Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Vanity.—Falsehood either towards God or man.
Food convenient for me.—Literally, bread of my portion, such as is apportioned to me as suitable by the care of the heavenly Father. Comp. “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) in the sense of “proper for our sustenance.”
Neither poverty ... - The evil of the opposite extremes of social life is that in different ways they lead men to a false standard of duty, and so to that forgetfulness of God which passes into an absolute denial.
Food convenient for me - literally, "give me for food the bread of my appointed portion." The prayer foreshadows that which we have been taught by the Divine Wisdom: "Give us, day by day, our daily bread."Remove far from me; from my heart, and from the course of my life. This is the first of Agur’s petitions.
1. All vain and false opinions concerning God, or the things of God; all unbelief, idolatry, or misbelief. Or,
2. All vanity of heart and life; a vain conversation, an affectation of the vain things of this world, as riches, pleasures, or honours, the bewitching power and sad effects whereof he had observed in others, and feared in himself, as the following request implies.
Lies; all falsehood and deceit in my words and carriage towards God or men.
Give me neither poverty nor riches: this is his second request, which may seem to have some reference to the former, poverty being commonly the occasion and temptation to the sin of lying, and riches being the great occasions and enticements to vanity. Thus, as his first petition was against the sins themselves, so this latter is against the occasions of them.
Food convenient for me; moderate, and suitable both to my natural necessities, and to that estate and condition of life in which thou hast put me, and to that work and service which thou hast for me to do. And this mediocrity of estate is so amiable, that it hath been oft desired by wise heathens, as more eligible than a state of the greatest plenty and glory. 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.Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. food convenient for me] Heb. the bread of my portion, i.e. that is needful for me. The Heb. word is used of an appointed portion of labour, or a task, Proverbs 31:15; Exodus 5:14. Comp. “Give us this day our daily bread.”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)."
2 For I am without reason for a man,
And a man's understanding I have not.
3 And I have not learned wisdom,
That I may possess the knowledge of the All-Holy.
He who cannot come to any fixed state of consecration, inasmuch as he is always driven more and more back from the goal he aims at, thereby brings guilt upon himself as a sinner so great, that every other man stands above him, and he is deep under them all. So here Agur finds the reason why in divine things he has failed to attain unto satisfying intelligence, not in the ignorance and inability common to all men - he appears to himself as not a man at all, but as an irrational beast, and he misses in himself the understanding which a man properly might have and ought to have. The מן of מאישׁ is not the partitive, like Isaiah 44:11, not the usual comparative: than any one (Bttcher), which ought to be expressed by מכּל־אישׁ, but it is the negative, as Isaiah 52:14; Fleischer: rudior ego sum quam ut homo appeller, or: brutus ego, hominis non similis. Regarding בּער, vid., under Proverbs 12:1.
(Note: According to the Arab. בעיר is not a beast as grazing, but as dropping stercus (ba'r, camel's or sheep's droppings); to the R. בר, Mhlau rightly gives the meanings of separating, whence are derived the meanings of grazing as well as of removing (cleansing) (cf. Pers. thak karadn, to make clean equals to make clean house, tabula rasa).)
Proverbs 30:3 now says that he went into no school of wisdom, and for that reason in his wrestling after knowledge could attain to nothing, because the necessary conditions to this were wanting to him. But then the question arises: Why this complaint? He must first go to school in order to obtain, according to the word "To him who hath is given," that for which he strove. Thus למדתּי refers to learning in the midst of wrestling; but למד, spiritually understood, signifies the acquiring of a kennens [knowledge] or knnens [knowledge equals ability]: he has not brought it out from the deep point of his condition of knowledge to make wisdom his own, so that he cannot adjudge to himself knowledge of the all-holy God (for this knowledge is the kernel and the star of true wisdom). If we read 3b לא אדע, this would be synchronistic, nesciebam, with למדתי standing on the same line. On the contrary, the positive אדע subordinates itself to ולא־למדתי, as the Arab. fâa' lama, in the sense of (ita) ut scirem scientiam Sanctissimi, thus of a conclusion, like Lamentations 1:19, a clause expressive of the intention, Ewald, 347a. קדשׁים is, as at Proverbs 9:10, the name of God in a superlative sense, like the Arab. el-kuddûs.
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