Included in Hezekiah’s collection of Proverbs were writings by Agur and King Lemuel. “The proverbs of Agur, son of Jakeh, and those of King Lemuel appear to have existed independently before they became part of the biblical book. Most commentators assume they were of Arabian descent, a theory supported by a slight textual variant. Neither Agur nor Lemuel is known outside these biblical references, and their origins remain in doubt.” – (Encountering the Old Testament by Arnold and Beyer)
Agur begins by confessing his lack of knowledge and elevating the word of the Lord – “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” Since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), the Lord gives His pure word to His people, so that by hearing and understanding His word they may put their faith and trust in Him as their shield and protector.
Agur asks the Lord for two things: 1) to make him a man who speaks the truth and 2) to give him neither riches nor poverty. Agur knows that either being rich or being poor would be stumbling blocks in his life – “Lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Agur is a man who does not put his trust in his own knowledge or resources which will lead to pride — He trusts in the Lord.
Agur rebukes a generation that curses their parents, is pure and lofty in their own sight, and devours others. This type of generation — one that does not recognize their own personal sin, does not seek to walk in the ways of the Lord, and does not recognize their need for a Savior — will wreak havoc in their personal lives, in their communities and on the nations. Therefore, the Lord will not be their shield and protection because the Lord resists the proud – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).
Proverbs 31 (vs 1-9) is wise advice given to King Lemuel from his mom. She says not to give yourself over to sexual appetites and to intoxicating drinks, as both would dull the senses and distract the king from his mission of faithfully leading the people. She tells her son to judge righteously and protect the poor and the needy who do not have a voice in the community. Her desire for her son is that he use his position of power to help others and not to indulge himself with women and wine.
In the remaining verses of Proverbs 31 (10-31), Lemuel’s mother describes the attributes and deeds of a woman who would be a godly wife to her son. This woman is one who is trustworthy, kind, wise, faithful, hard working, considerate of the poor, good to her spouse, respected in the home and outside of the home, resourceful, but most importantly… she fears the Lord— “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” External beauty fades, but internal beauty will last forever. A woman who walks with the Lord will shine His goodness through her life and be a blessing to those around her. Her deeds may go unnoticed by the world but not by the Lord. He sees her, and He will reward her faithfulness.
That concludes the Book of Proverbs. Tomorrow we begin day 1 of 12 days reading the remaining psalms, so keep reading! (Proverbs 30:1-31:31)