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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 30:1 A burden

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 5, 2021

The last two chapters of Proverbs serve as a kind of appendix. The beginning of this chapter (30:1-9) seems to be a dialogue with an unbeliever or a skeptic. In God’s eyes, there is no difference. This is followed by a series of proverbs varying in length that describe different kinds of sinners. This is balanced by chapter 31 and the description of the ideal or heroic wife.

PROVERBS 30:1

30 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an oracle:
  This man declares, “I am weary, O God;
  I am weary, O God, and worn out.”

We don’t know who Agur was, nor his father Jakeh, although that name is similar to Jakim, the eldest son of Shimei the Benjamite in the family of King Saul. Shimei was the man who cursed King David and threw rocks at him during Absalom’s rebellion in about 984 BC (2 Samuel 16:5-6).

Some readers might want to connect Agur with the Latin and English word augur (a pagan prophet, prophecy, or portent), but the Hebrew name could mean either “one who is gathered” (see Proverbs 6:8); “sojourner” (see Psalm 61:5) or “lion’s cub” (see Nahum 2:11). Without any further explanation, it would be unwise to say the name means one thing but not another.

Agur says that his message is “an oracle.” This is the same word, massah, that we find in many of the prophets (Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1; Isaiah 13:1, 17:1; Jeremiah 17:22-22, etc.). This is a sermon that is a burden to share, one of law as well as gospel. There is more than good news here. There is also a condemnation of sin and error. We will get to this in verses 2 and following.

The second part of verse 1 confuses both translators and readers. I will spare the reader my study of the possibility of an error in the copying of this verse in the Hebrew. The explanation might do more to confuse than to help. But the Hebrew text might describe who the man is declaring his words to: “To Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal” (see NIV text and footnote). In that case, these could be the names of his sons, or other unknown people. But the words might also be as I have translated them: “I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.” If this is correct, and we’ll take it at face value this way, then this describes the exhausted emotions of the child of God after having the kind of conversation that follows, a back-and-forth sparring session with an unbeliever. It is mercifully brief as we have it here in Proverbs 30:1-9.

Since this first verse is not essential to understanding the rest of the section or the chapter overall, maybe we don’t need to say much more. But anyone who has had an exhausting battle of words over their faith will understand how frustrated we can feel after such an exchange. But we also need to remember that it isn’t up to us to argue anyone into the kingdom of heaven. Often, a victory of logic or reason is ultimately a loss. The word of God is what changes hearts, not our clever words or bullet points. When we are the messengers, we can sometimes lose sight of this, but consider Paul’s confession, grateful he was sent to preach the gospel, “not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17). And again: “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1), “so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:5). Almost all of the important differences between the religions of the world and even the various denominations of Christianity come down to the way that we answer two questions: Who is God? How are we saved? The second question is answered by the simple assertion that we are saved by Christ alone, by his blood shed for us on the cross. This is the gospel of Christ. So when Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16), he is reminding us that although anyone might pick up a Bible and read it, nobody can decide to believe it or to put their faith in Jesus. This only happens by the power of God at work through his word.

So when “I am weary and worn out” because of an exchange with someone who rejects Christ, I can be comforted that I shared the word of God. It is the only tool that works. I might wear myself out, but no one’s salvation depends on my personal labor. The salvation of mankind depends entirely on Jesus on the cross. I am only a messenger. Weary or refreshed, you and I carry the word where it needs to go. Praise God for doing the rest.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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