Wesley's Notes on the Bible
The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
30:1 Jakeh - Who lived either in Solomon's time, or rather afterwards, and was famous in his generation for wisdom and piety. The prophecy - The prophetical instruction; for as the prophets were public preachers as well as foretellers of things to come, so their sermons, no less than their predictions, are commonly called their prophecies. And Ucal - Two friends and co - temporaries of Agur, who desired his instructions.
Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.
30:2 Surely - This he utters from a modest and humble apprehension of his own ignorance.
I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.
30:3 I neither learned - I have not been taught in the schools of wisdom. Of the holy - Of the holy prophets. I have not such Divine inspirations as prophets strictly so called have received.
Who hath ascended up into 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?
30:4 Who - What mere man? None at all. Ascended - To learn the mind of God who dwells there. 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. 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 water which he shuts up in the bowels of the earth. The earth - The whole earth from one end to another, which God upholdeth in the air, by the word of his power. If - 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.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
30:5 Pure - You must not expect the full knowledge of Divine mysteries from me, nor from any man, but from the word of God.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
30:8 Vanity - All vanity of heart and life; a vain conversation, or a love of the vain things of this world. Lies - All falsehood and deceit in my words and carriage. Convenient - Moderate and suitable both to my natural necessities, and to that condition of life in which thou hast put me.
Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
30:9 Deny thee - By trusting to riches, which is a denial of God, and by unthankfulness for, and abuse of his mercies. Who is the Lord - That I should serve him. Lest I take - Use false oaths either to vindicate myself when I am suspected, or to gratify others, as poor men frequently do.
Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.
30:10 Accuse not - Without sufficient cause: for otherwise, in some cases this may be a duty. Curse thee - Desire God to punish thee. Guilty - By God, who is ready to plead the cause of the afflicted.
There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.
30:11 A generation - A sort of men.
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
30:12 Not washed - Who imagine they are truly religious, when they live in a course of wickedness.
There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.
There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
30:14 Devour - Extortioners, and cruel oppressors.
The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:
30:15 The horse - leach - An insatiable creature, sucking blood 'till it is ready to burst. Two daughters - The following things resemble the horse - leach in its insatiableness; nothing being more ordinary than to call those persons or things the sons or daughters of those whose examples they imitate. Three - Though he begins with two, yet he proceeds from thence to three, and four, all which are said to be the daughters of the horse - leach.
The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
30:17 The eye - He that scorneth or derideth his parents, tho' it be but with a look or gesture, and much more when he breaks out into opprobrious words and actions.
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
30:18 Wonderful - The way whereof I cannot trace.
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.
Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
30:20 Such is - So secret and undiscernible. Eateth - The bread of deceit in secret.
For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:
30:21 Four - Which are intolerable in human societies.
For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;
30:22 A servant - For such an one is commonly ignorant, and therefore commits many errors; he is poor, and therefore insatiable, he is proud and imperious, and usually injurious and cruel. A fool - A conceited fool. When - When he abounds in wealth.
For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.
30:23 An odious - Proud, and perverse. Married - For then she displays all those ill humours, which before, she concealed. Is heir - Which great and sudden change transports her beside herself, and makes her insufferably proud and scornful.
There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
30:27 Bands - Several companies, in exact order.
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.
30:28 Hands - With her legs, which he calls hands, because they serve her for the same use, to do her work, to weave her web, and to catch gnats or flies. Palaces - Is not only in poor cottages, but many times in palaces also.
There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:
A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;
A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.
30:31 An he - goat - Which marches in the head of the flock in a grave and stately manner, conducting them with great courage and resolution, and being ready to fight for them, either with beasts or men that oppose him. A king - Heb. a king and his people with him, a king when he hath the hearts and hands of his people going along with him in his undertakings.
If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.
30:32 Thought - Designed any injury against thy neighbour. Lay thine hand - Do not open thy mouth to excuse it, but repent of it, and do so no more.
Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
30:33 The forcing - The stirring up of wrath, either in a man's self towards others, by giving way to passion; or in others by reproaches, or any other provocations. Bringeth forth - Is the cause of many quarrels.