“The words of King Lemuel,
That his mother taught him.”
Who is Lemuel? This is the only mention of him here. He is a lot like Agur. He may be a real person or another name for Solomon since he talks about his mother’s teaching, which would have been David’s wife Bathsheba. This is either an oracle or a king of Massa, or just like Agur, another name for Solomon.
“There are those who curse their fathers.
They do not bless their mothers.
There are those who are pure in their own eyes.
Yet they are not cleansed of their filthiness.
There are those who have lofty eyes.
They lift their eyelids high.
There are those whose teeth are swords.
Their teeth are like knives.
They want to devour the poor from off the earth.
They want to devour the needy from among men.”
This interlude with Agur concludes as he considers four types of sinners. The first type of sinner is the disrespectful child who curses his father and does not bless his mother. Next are the self satisfied who pretend to be pure but are actually filthy. Thirdly, the arrogant lift their eyes and eye lids high in distain. Finally, there are the avarice ones with their sharp teeth. They want to devour the poor and the needy among us.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches.
Feed me with the food that I need.
Shall I be full?
Shall I deny you?
Shall I say?
‘Who is Yahweh?’
Shall I be poor?
Shall I steal?
Shall I profane the name of my God?”
Agur wanted neither to be rich or poor. All he wanted was enough food to eat and sustain his life. Should he deny God? Should he profane the name of God? Should he ask about Yahweh? Will he have enough to eat? Will he be poor? Will he steal things? This Agur seems to be a savant who asks interesting questions about himself and his life.
“Two things I ask of you.
Do not deny them to me before I die.
Remove far from me falsehood.
Remove far from me lying.”
Agur wants to be removed from anybody or anything that is false before he dies. He wants to get away from all liars.
“Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of his hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is the person’s name?
What is the name of the person’s child?
Surely you know!”
Then Agur asks a serious of penetrating questions. This is something like a riddle. Some Christians have interpreted these questions to be an allusion to Jesus. However, this seems to be an allusion to a creative God. This God came down and went back to heaven. He gathered the wind in his hand and the waters in his garments. He established all the ends of the earth. Then there is that intriguing question. What is his name? What is the name of the son or child of that person? Then in a sarcastic tone, he admonishes all that surely everyone should know who he is and his name.
“Surely I am too stupid to be human.
I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom.
I do not have knowledge of the Holy One.”
In a rare expression of humility, this Agur proclaims that he is too stupid to even be a human. He admits his human limitations since he does not even have human understanding. He has never learned about wisdom. He does not even know the holy one.
“Thus says the man.
I am weary.
I am weary.
How can I prevail?”
This is the opening statement of Agur. Some have interpreted this as the names of people, Ithiel and Ucal. Nevertheless, this is a weary man who is crying out to God. Notice that it is not Yahweh. He wants to know how he can prevail in this life.
“The words of Agur
Son of Jakeh
Who is this Agur? Agur was the compiler of this collection of proverbs that bears a great similarity to the prophet Isaiah, chapter 40. This Agur might be another name for Solomon. Another explanation is that Agur means someone brave in the pursuit of wisdom. It is highly unlikely that these two Hebrew terms refer to personal names since the names of Agur and Jakeh are not seen anywhere else in the Bible or in any other Israelite document. The lack of parallel language elsewhere makes it difficult to settle on a particular meaning. Perhaps Agur is a foreign sage from the East since sometimes this oracle is translated as Masa, a land east and outside of Israel. Either this was a real person, or as some have suggested, it was a fanciful or symbolic name for Solomon.