Proverbs 30:13-33

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Proverbs 30

13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

They resemble someone who has said, If there are only two righteous men in the world, I and my son are the two. If only one, I am he. They are characterized by pride and arrogance. They are haughty. They are mentioned in contrast to Agur's attitudes of humility and reverence.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords [i.e. (like) swords], and their jaw teeth as knives [i.e. their fangs (are like) knives], to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

Those who oppress the poor are fiercely oppressive. They are like voracious animals. They are so greedy for wealth that they rip, tear, and devour the poor in order to gain their wealth. They require long hours, low wages, and provide miserable working conditions.

15 The horseleach [i.e. leech] hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

In verses 15-16 examples of desires that are never satisfied are seen. These illustrate what is stated in verse 14.

There are three things . . . yea, four things . . . . is a literary formula used to gain the reader's attention.

These daughters of a leech have an endless capacity for sucking blood from their victims. They graphically depict the attitude of having more of whatever they desire.

16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled [i.e. satisfied] with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough [i.e. which never says, "Enough!"].

The grave always has room for another victim of death.

The barren womb is never willing to accept sterility but is always hopeful of motherhood.

The earth is never satisfied with water. No matter how much rain falls, the earth can always absorb more. Even after a flood when the ground is saturated, the earth will absorb more water within a week or so after the flood waters have receded.

The fire never says enough. There is always more to burn.

17 The eye that mocketh at his father [i.e. that mocks his father], and despiseth to obey his mother [i.e. and scorns (his) mother], the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

A son who mocks his father and disobeys his mother will die a violent death and will be denied a decent burial. To the Jewish mind it was a great tragedy and disgrace for a body to be unburied. The fate of the wayward son is for his carcass to be devoured by vultures.

18 There be three things which are too wonderful [i.e. amazing] for me, yea, four which I know not [i.e. four (which) I do not understand]:

Agur lists four things which are too wonderful [or amazing] for him.

19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid [i.e. with a virgin].

He is amazed by the flight of an eagle. For centuries men admired the flight of birds and wished that they could fly. This came to pass in the last century.

Agur is amazed by the way a snake can move on a rock without benefit of arms, legs, or wings.

Agur is amazed by the ship in the midst of the sea.

Agur is also amazed at the way of a man with a virgin, which may refer to the instinct of courtship or to the seduction of a virgin.

20 Such [i.e. This] is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness [i.e. wrong].

A fifth wonder is apparently thrown in for good measure. It is the way of an adulterous woman who can satisfy her lust and then wipe her mouth and claim to be innocent. She takes a casual approach to her sinful ways, treating them as lightly as eating a meal and asserting that nothing is wrong with adultery.

21 For three things the earth is disquieted [i.e. quakes, trembles, or is perturbed], and for four which it cannot bear:

Four things are listed which bring turmoil on the earth. The earth represents people who live on it. Social turmoil follows the sudden elevation of inexperienced, unqualified people to positions of power and success.

22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat [i.e. food];

A servant when he reigns becomes arrogant and overbearing. He is carried away with his newfound importance and power.

The prosperity of a fool who is filled with food causes him to be more foolish or insolent than ever. He lacks spiritual perception and sensitivity.

Harmony in society is encouraged when people maintain their proper roles and do not assume positions they are not capable of handling.

23 For an odious [i.e. hateful, unloved] woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

An odious woman is a hateful woman. Her wretched disposition would normally have kept her single, but for some reason she lands a husband. Then she becomes haughty and taunting to those who are still unmarried.

A maidservant who succeeds her mistress doesn't know how to act with refinement and grace but is course, rude, and vulgar.

24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

Agur now turns to four things which are wise even though they are small. Their wisdom triumphs over strength.

25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat [i.e. food] in the summer;

The ants are very tiny and seemingly helpless. They are always busy preparing their food.

26 The conies [badgers, rock badgers] are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

Conies are rock badgers. They are known as the hyrax and are not to be confused with the common badger. Adult hyraxes are 12-20 inches long and weigh between 9 and 11 pounds.

27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands [i.e. in ranks];

The locusts have no visible ruler, but the order in which they advance is remarkable.

28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.

The spider is successful in getting into inaccessible places.

29 There be three things which go well [i.e. which are stately (i.e. majestic or graceful) in their march], yea, four are comely in going [i.e. which are stately (i.e. majestic or graceful) when they walk]:

30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;

The lion is majestic and unruffled as it walks.

31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up [i.e. a king whose army is with him].

A greyhound runs gracefully.

A he-goat is a ram or male goat. It pictures nobility as it strides at the head of a flock.

A king who marches or struts with regal dignity.

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself [i.e. in exalting yourself], or if thou hast thought evil [i.e. plotted evil or devised evil] , lay thine hand upon thy mouth [i.e. put your hand on (or over) your mouth].

If someone in his folly has lifted himself against God or others or has even thought about it, he should listen to the voice of reason and lay his hand upon his mouth, i.e. not say anything more. He should stop making trouble.

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth [i.e. produces] butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood [i.e. produces blood]: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife [i.e. produces strife].

Such will be the result of rising up against God or others mentioned in verse 32. Trouble awaits him if he doesn't change his ways.