|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
30:7-9 Agur wisely prayed for a middle state, that he might be kept at a distance from temptations; he asked daily bread suited to his station, his family, and his real good. There is a remarkable similarity between this prayer and several clauses of the Lord's prayer. If we are removed from vanity and lies; if we are interested in the pardoning love of Christ, and have him for our portion; if we walk with God, then we shall have all we can ask or think, as to spiritual things. When we consider how those who have abundance are prone to abuse the gift, and what it is to suffer want, Agur's prayer will ever be found a wise one, though seldom offered. Food convenient; what is so for one, may not be so for another; but we may be sure that our heavenly Father will supply all our need, and not suffer us to want anything good for us; and why should we wish for more?
Verse 8. - Here is the first request: Remove far from me vanity and lies. Shay, "vanity," is inward hollowness and worthlessness, and "lies" are the expression of this in words. The prayer might indeed be taken as an entreaty against being polluted with the companionship of the evil, like "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;" but it is best taken subjectively, as a supplication for personal truthfulness and sincerity in all relations both towards God and man. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Both extremes are deprecated: the mean is the safest and the happiest, Horace, 'Carm.,' 3:16. 424
Desunt multa; bene est, cui deus obtulit
Parca, quod satis est, manu."
"The 'ever craving' is Want's slave and thrall;
The gods most wisely thus their gifts accord,
Giving 'enough,' they amply give to all."
(Stanley.) Theognis, 'Patron.,' 1155 -
Οὐκ ἔραμαι πλουτεῖν οὐδ εὔχομαι ἀλλὰ μοι εἴη
Ζῇν ἀπὸ τῶν π᾿λίγων μηδὲν ἔχοντι κακόν
"I want not wealth; I only ask to live
On frugal means without corroding care." Feed me with food convenient for me; literally, give me to eat the bread of my portion; that which by God s providence is determined for me (comp. Genesis 47:22, which speaks of the portion assigned for the support of the priests; Job 23:14; and below, Proverbs 31:15). It is natural to refer to τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν ἐπιούσιον of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:11); but the idea is not the same. In the latter, bread for the needs of the coming day is meant; in our passage it is more indefinite, a casting one's self on the Divine love, in readiness to take what that love assigns. "Having food and covering," says St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:8), "we shall be therewith content." Septuagint, "Appoint for me what is necessary and what is sufficient (τὰ δεόντα καὶ τὰ αὐτάρκη)."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Remove far from me vanity and lies,.... This is the "first" request, to be preserved from sin, in general; which is a vain, lying, and deceitful thing; promising pleasure, profit, liberty, and impunity, which it does not give. Agur desires to have vain thoughts removed out of his mind, vain words from his mouth, and vain actions from his life and conversation; to have his eyes turned from beholding vanity, and his feet from walking in it; and his affections taken off from the vain things of the world, the lusts, pleasures, profits, and honours of it; as well as to be kept from all errors and false doctrines, which are lies in hypocrisy; with which men that lie in wait to deceive would, if it were possible, deceive the very elect: Agur conscious of his own weakness, and proneness to evil, desires the Lord would not lead him into temptation, but deliver him from all evil, doctrinal and practical. Some understand this of the forgiveness of sin; which is sometimes expressed by a putting or removing it away, 2 Samuel 7:13, Psalm 103:12;
give me neither poverty nor riches; this is the "second" request, not to be extremely poor nor too rich; but to be in a middle state between both, neither rich nor poor; which Horace (b) calls the golden mean, and which Agur wisely judged to be the happiest state; most free from care, least liable to temptation, and the best situation to serve the Lord in: a like wish was made by Theognis (c), I neither love to be rich,
"nor desire it; but to live on a little, having no evil;''
so Martial (d). Both riches and poverty are of God; men are rich or poor, as the Lord pleases; he suffers poverty in some, and gives riches to others: Agur deprecates both, as having their separate, peculiar, snares and temptations; though no doubt this request was made with submission to the will of God; and not as considering either of them as evils in themselves, but as they might be attended with bad consequences, and what is next mentioned being more eligible;
feed me with food convenient for me; not merely what was agreeable to his palate, suitable to his constitution, and sufficient for nature; nor for him personally, but for his family also; and what was proper and suitable to the condition and circumstances in which he was, and to the rank and quality he held, whether in a more private or in a more public capacity. Some render it, "the food of my allowance" (e); what is allotted and appointed for me It seems to be the same which Job calls his "necessary food", and Christ "our daily bread": it takes in both food and raiment, which having, men should be contented with; see Job 23:12. The allusion seems to be to the stated measure of food allowed to servants by the day, or rather by the month, called "demensum", and which was but small and scanty (f); yet with this Agur could be content.
(b) Camin. l. 2. Ode 10. v. 5. (c) Sententiae, v. 1151, 1152. (d) "Nunquam divitias deos rogavi, contentus modicis, meoque laetus; paupertas, veniam dabis, recede", Epigr. l. 4. Ephesians 65. (e) "panem statuti mei", Montanus; "demensi mei", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (f) Vid. Juvenal. Sat. 14. v. 126. & Not. in ibid.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. vanity—all sorts of sinful acts (Job 11:11; Isa 5:18).
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