Proverbs 30:4
Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the wind in his fists? who has bound the waters in a garment? who has established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if you can tell?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Who hath ascended up into heaven . . .—The reason of Agur’s sadness is here declared. He feels himself far off from possessing anything that may be called knowledge of God or of His works. (Comp. Galatians 4:9; 1Corinthians 13:12.) The questions in this verse are intended to bring out the nothingness of man as compared with the might of the Creator of the Universe; they resemble Job 38-41, and Isaiah 40:12 sqq.

Who hath bound the waters in a garment?—Stretching out the clouds as a “curtain” (Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22), to keep the rain from falling upon the earth. (Comp. Job 26:8.)

What is his name?—We may call Him the Self-existing (Jehovah), Powerful (Shaddai), Strong (El). Awful (Eloah) Being; we may describe Him as merciful, gracious, etc. (Exodus 34:5 sqq.), but no words will describe Him adequately, for not till the next life shall we see Him as He is (1John 3:2), and He has been pleased to reveal Himself only partially to us.

What is his son’s name?—See the description of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22 sqq., and the notes there.

Proverbs 30:4. Who hath ascended, &c. — What mere man hath ascended into heaven to learn the mind of God, who dwells there? None have. And descended — To teach men below what he had learned above. No man can fully know and teach us these things unless he hath been in heaven, and sent down from thence to the earth for that end. Who hath gathered the wind in his fists — To hold them in, or let them out at his pleasure? And none but he who made and governs all creatures, can know and teach these things. The waters — Those above, the clouds, and those below, the sea, which God keeps as it were within doors, and the waters which he shuts up in the bowels of the earth. The ends of the earth — The whole earth, from one end to another, which God upholdeth in the air by the word of his power. If thou canst tell — If thou thinkest there be any man who can do these things, produce his name; or, if he be dead, the name of any of his posterity.30:4, there is a prophetic notice of Him who came down from heaven to be our Instructor and Saviour, and then ascended into heaven to be our Advocate. The Messiah is here spoken of as a Person distinct from the Father, but his name as yet secret. The great Redeemer, in the glories of his providence and grace, cannot be found out to perfection. Had it not been for Christ, the foundations of the earth had sunk under the load of the curse upon the ground, for man's sin. Who, and what is the mighty One that doeth all this? There is not the least ground to suspect anything wanting in the word of God; adding to his words opens the way to errors and corruptions.Man is to be humbled to the dust by the thought of the glory of God as seen in the visible creation.

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? - The thought is obviously that of the all-embracing Providence of God, taking in at once the greatest and the least, the highest and the lowest. The mysteries of the winds and of the waters baffle men's researches.

What is his son's name - The primary thought is that man knows so little of the divine nature that he cannot tell whether he may transfer to it the human relationships with which he is familiar, or must rest in the thought of a unity indivisible and incommunicable. If there is such an Only-begotten of the Father (compare Proverbs 8:30), then His nature, until revealed, must be as incomprehensible by us as that of the Father Himself.

2-4. brutish—stupid, a strong term to denote his lowly self-estimation; or he may speak of such as his natural condition, as contrasted with God's all-seeing comprehensive knowledge and almighty power. The questions of this clause emphatically deny the attributes mentioned to be those of any creature, thus impressively strengthening the implied reference of the former to God (compare De 30:12-14; Isa 40:12; Eph 4:8). Who? what mere man? None at all; and therefore I may truly say, that I have not that which no mortal man ever yet had.

Hath ascended up into heaven; there to learn the mind of God who dwells there, and that wisdom which is from above.

Or descended; or rather, and descended, to teach men below what he had learned above. The meaning of the place is, No man can fully know and teach us these things unless he hath been in heaven, and sent down from thence to the earth to that end; whence our Saviour Christ justly applies these words to himself, John 3:13, and appropriates this work of declaring God’s nature and will to men to himself, upon this account, that he alone was in his Father’s bosom, John 1:18.

Hath gathered the wind in his fists, to hold them in, or let them out, and rule them at his pleasure. Where is there a man that can do this? And none but he who made and governs all the creatures can know and teach these things. The waters; those above in the clouds, and those below, the sea, which God keeps as it were within doors, and in a garment and swaddling-band, as it is expressed, Job 38:8,9; and the waters which he shuts up in the bowels of the earth.

All the ends of the earth; the whole earth, from one end to another, which God upholdeth in the air by the word of his power, and secureth from the rage of the sea, by the banks and shores wherewith he hath begirt it for that purpose.

What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? The sense is either,

1. Seeing it is apparent that no man hath this power, and consequently this knowledge, but that this is the prerogative of the great God, declare, if thou art able, his name, i.e. his nature and perfections, and the eternal generation and the perfections of his Son. Or rather,

2. If thou thinkest there be any such man who can do these things, I challenge thee to produce his name; or if he be long since dead, and gone out of the world, the name of any of his posterity that can assure us that their progenitor was such a person; which because thou canst not do, I must conclude that none can thoroughly understand this matter but the blessed God, and his Son Christ, and they to whom God shall reveal it by Christ. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?.... That has been thither to fetch knowledge of God and divine things, and has returned to communicate it. Enoch was taken up to heaven before this time: and Elijah, as is very probable, after; but neither of them returned again, to inform mortals what was to be seen, known, and enjoyed there: since, the Apostle Paul was caught up into the third heaven, and came back again; but then the things he heard were such as it was not lawful for a man to utter: and indeed, since the coming of Christ there is no need of any further revelation to be made nor of any such expedition, in order to obtain it, Romans 10:6. And, properly speaking, there never was any besides him, whose names are Ithiel and Ucal, that ever did this: he lay in the bosom of the Father, and was privy to his whole mind and will; he descended from heaven to earth not by local motion, but, by assumption of nature; and when he had made known his Father's will, and done his work, he ascended far above all heavens, and received gifts for men; to fill his churches and ministers with them, in order to communicate and improve spiritual and divine knowledge; and therefore, with great propriety and pertinence, he applies these words to himself, John 3:13;

who hath gathered the wind in his fists? not any mere creature; not any man or set of men; it is not in the power of any, either men or angels, to restrain or let loose the winds at pleasure; nor has Satan, though called the prince of the power of the air, that is, of the devils in the air, any such command of them; none but he that made them can command them to blow, or be still; even he who brings them out of his treasures, and his own son, whom the wind and seas obeyed; see Psalm 135:7; The Heathens (w) themselves are so sensible of this, that the power of the winds only belongs to God, that they have framed a deity they call Aeolus; whom the supreme Being has made a kind of steward or store keeper of the winds, and given him a power to still or raise them as he pleases (x);

who hath bound the waters in a garment? either the waters above, which are bound in the thick clouds as in a garment which hold them from pouring out; or the waters of the sea, which are as easily managed by the Lord as an infant by its parent, and is wrapped about with a swaddling band, Job 26:8. But can any creature do this? none but the mighty God; and his almighty Son the Ithiel and Ucal, who clothes the heavens with blackness, and makes sackcloth their covering: even he who is the Redeemer of this people, and has the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to them Isaiah 50:2;

who hath established all the ends of the earth? fixed the boundaries of the several parts of the world, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and the several countries in them? settled the foundations of the earth, and secured the banks and borders of it from the raging of the sea? None but these next mentioned; see Job 38:4;

what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? if thou surest it is a mere man that does all these things tell his name; or, if he be dead, say what is the name of his son or of any of his family; so Jarchi and others interpret it: or rather, since it is the Lord alone and his own proper Son, to whom these things can he ascribed say what is his name; that is, his nature and perfections which are incomprehensible and ineffable; otherwise he is known by his name Jehovah and especially as his name is proclaimed in Christ and manifested by him and in his Gospel: and seeing he has a son of the same nature with him, and possessed of the same perfections, co-essential, and co-existent, and every way equal to him, and a distinct person from him, say what is his nature and perfections also; declare his generation and the manner of it; his divine filiation, and in what class it is; things which are out of the reach of human capacity, and not to be expressed by the tongue of men and angels; see Matthew 11:27. Otherwise, though his name for a while was a secret, and he was only called the seed of the woman and of Abraham, Genesis 3:15; yet he had many names given him under the Old Testament; as Shiloh, Immanuel, the Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and Prince of peace; the Lord our righteousness, and the Man, the Branch: and under the New Testament, Jesus the Saviour, Christ the Anointed; the Head of the church, the Judge of the world; the Word of God, and King of kings, and Lord of lords. This Scripture is a proof of Christ's being the eternal Son of God; of his equality with his divine Father as such, their name and nature being alike ineffable; of his co-existence with his Father as such; and of his omnipresence and omnipotence, expressed by the phrases here used of ascending, &c. and of his distinct personality from the Father; the same question being distinctly put of him as of the Father. Some render the last clause, "dost thou know?" (y) thou dost not know God and his Son, their being and perfections are not to be known by the light of nature, only by revelation, and but imperfectly.

(w) , &c. Homer. Odyss. 10. v. 21, 22. "Aeole, namque tibi divum pater atque hominum rex, et mulcere dedit fluctus, et tollere vento", Virgil Aeneid. l. v. 69, 70. (x) See a Sermon of mine, called "Christ the Saviour from the Tempest", p. 17, 18. (y) "ad nosti?" Noldius, p. 393. No. 1337.

Who hath ascended into {d} heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

(d) Meaning, to know the secrets of God, as though he would say, None.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. ascended … descended] That he should go there and learn, and come back again to earth and tell what is done there. Comp. John 3:13 : “No man hath risen into the region of absolute and eternal truth, so as to look upon it face to face, and in the possession of that knowledge declare it to men.” Bp Westcott. It is something of this conviction that calls forth the deeply humble confession of Proverbs 30:2-3; but it leads not to agnosticism, but to the reverent yet trustful acknowledgement of “the Holy One” who knows all. Comp. for the following questions, Isaiah 40:12-17; Job 38:41.

a garment] “The wonder of the clouds, floating reservoirs of water, which do not burst underneath the weight of waters which they contain. Men bind up water in skins or bottles; God binds up the rain-floods in the thin, gauzy texture of the changing cloud, which yet by His power does not rend under its burden of waters.” Job 26:8, note in this Series.

his name … his son’s name] Can you describe Him, and can you tell whether He is absolutely alone, or has He imparted His nature and attributes to any other, who may in any sense be called His “Son”? The question is of deep interest, betokening the early yearnings, awakened by the Divine Spirit in the spirit of man, which were to find “when the fulness of the time came” their complete satisfaction in the great revelation of Sonship in the Gospel.

The wise Teacher “has meditated on the wonderful facts of the physical world; he has watched the great trees sway under the touch of the invisible wind, and the waves rise up in their might, lashing the shores, but vainly essaying to pass their appointed boundaries; he has considered the vast expanse of the earth, and enquired on what foundations does it rest, and where are its limits? He cannot question the ‘eternal power and divinity,’ which alone can account for this ordered universe. He has not, like many thinkers, ancient and modern, ‘dropped a plummet down the broad deep universe, and cried, No God.’ He knows that there is a God; there must be an intelligence able to conceive, coupled with a power able to realise, this mighty mechanism. But Who is it? What is His name, or His Son’s name? Here are the footsteps of the Creator; but where is the Creator Himself?” Horton.

Proverbs 30:5-6. From the uncertainty of human speculation he finds relief in the certainty of Divine revelation.Verse 4. - The questions contained in this verse are such as compelled Agur to acknowledge his ignorance and nothingness before the thought of the glory and power of the great Creator. We may compare Job 38, etc. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who is he that hath his seat in heaven, and doeth works on earth? Who is he whose universal providence is felt and experienced? Where is this mysterious Being who hides himself from human ken? Christ has said something like this, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13); and St. Paul (Ephesians 4:9). In biblical language God is said to come down from heaven in order to punish, to aid, to reveal his will, etc. (Genesis 11:7; Psalm 18:9, etc.); and he returns to heaven when this intervention is finished (Genesis 17:22; Genesis 35:13). Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath the control of the viewless wind, so as to restrain it or release it at his pleasure? (Psalm 135:7; Amos 4:13). Septuagint, "Who hath gathered the winds in his bosom (κόλῳ)?" Who hath bound the waters in a garment? The waters are the clouds which cover the vault of heaven, and are held, as it were, in a garment, so that, in spite of the weight which they contain, they fall not upon the earth. As Job says (Job 26:8), "He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them." And again (Job 38:37), "Who can number the clouds by wisdom? or who can pour out the bottles of heaven?" So the psalmist, "Thou coveredst it [the earth] with the deep as with a vesture" (Psalm 104:6). (See above, Proverbs 8:27, etc.) Who hath established all the ends of the earth? Who hath consolidated the foundations, and defined the limits, of the remotest regions of the earth? (comp. Job 38:4, etc.). The answer to these four questions is "Almighty God." He alone can order and control the forces of nature. What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? or, if thou knowest. It is not enough to acknowledge the power and operation and providence of this mysterious Being; Agur longs to know more of his nature, his essence. He must have personality; he is not an abstraction, a force, a quality; he is a Person. What, then, is his name, the name which expresses what he is in himself? Men have different appellations for this Supreme Being, according as they regard one or other of his attributes: is there one name that comprehends all, which gives an adequate account of the incomprehensible Creator? The question cannot be answered affirmatively in this life. "We know that if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is" (1 John 3:2). The further question, "What is his son's name?" has given some difficulty. The LXX. has, "What is the name of his children (τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτοῦ)?" as if there was reference to Israel, the special children of God. But the original does not bear out this interpretation, which is also opposed to the idea of the enigma proposed. The inquiry might mean - Are we to apply to the Supreme Being the same notion of natural relationship with which we are familiar in the human family? But this seems a low and unworthy conception. Or the "son" might be primeval man (Job 15:7) or the sage; but the answer would not be satisfactory, and would not tend to solve the great question. There are two replies which can be made to Agur's interrogation. Looking to the marvellous description of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22, etc., we may consider Wisdom to be a denotation of the Son of God, and the inquirer desires to know the name and nature of this personage, of whose existence he was certified. Or he may have arrived at a knowledge of the only begotten Son of God, as the idea of the Logos is more or less developed in the Book of Wisdom, in Philo's treatises, and in the Alexandrian school; and longs for more perfect knowledge. This, indeed, is hidden: "He hath name written, which no one knoweth but he himself" (Revelation 19:12). It is useless to put such question to a fellow man; no human mind can fathom the nature of the Godhead, or trace out its operations (Ecclus. 18:4, etc.). 25 Fear of man bringeth a snare with it;

     But he that trusteth in Jahve is advanced.

It sounds strange, Hitzig remarks, that here in the Book of an Oriental author one should be warned against the fear of man. It is enough, in reply to this, to point to Isaiah 51:12. One of the two translations in the lxx (cf. Jerome and Luther) has found this "strange" thought not so strange as not to render it, and that in the gnomic aorist: φοβηθέντες καὶ αἰσχυνθέντες ἀνθρώπους ὑπεσκελίσθησαν. And why should not חרדּת אדם be able to mean the fear of man (cowardice)? Perhaps not so that אדם is the gen. objecti, but so that חרדת אדם means to frighten men, as in 1 Samuel 14:15. חרדת אלהים, a trembling of God; cf. Psalm 64:2; פחד איב, the fear occasioned by the enemy, although this connection, after Deuteronomy 2:25, can also mean fear of the enemy (gen. objecti). To יתּן, occasioned equals brings as a consequence with it, cf. Proverbs 10:10; Proverbs 13:15; the synallage generis is as at Proverbs 12:25 : it is at least strange with fem. infinit. and infinitival nouns, Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 25:14; Psalm 73:28; but חרדּה (trembling) is such a nom. actionis, Ewald, 238a. Regarding ישׂגּב (for which the lxx.1 σωθήσεται, and lxx2 εὐφρανθήσεται equals ישׂמח), vid., at Proverbs 18:10. He who is put into a terror by a danger with which men threaten him, so as to do from the fear of man what is wrong, and to conceal the truth, falls thereby into a snare laid by himself - it does not help him that by this means he has delivered himself from the danger, for he brands himself as a coward, and sins against God, and falls into an agony of conscience (reproach and anguish of heart) which is yet worse to bear than the evil wherewith he was threatened. It is only confidence in God that truly saves. The fear of man plunges him into yet greater suffering than that from which he would escape; confidence in God, on the other hand, lifts a man internally, and at last externally, above all his troubles.

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