The Words of Agur
30 The words of [a]Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle:
The man says to Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal:
Surely [b]I am more brutish and stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man [for I do not know what I do not know].
I have not learned [skillful and godly] wisdom,
Nor do I have knowledge of the Holy One [who is the source of wisdom].
Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name?
Certainly you know!(A)
Every word of God is tested and refined [like silver];
He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him.(B)
Do not add to His words,
Or He will reprove you, and you will be found a liar.
Two things I have asked of You;
Do not deny them to me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
So that I will not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I will not be poor and steal,
And so profane the name of my God.(C)
Do not slander or malign a servant before his master [stay out of another’s personal life],
Or he will curse you [for your interference], and you will be found guilty.
There is a generation (class of people) that curses its father
And does not bless its mother.
There is a generation (class of people) that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
There is a generation (class of people)—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are raised in arrogance.
There is a generation (class of people) whose teeth are like swords
And whose jaw teeth are like knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
The leech has two daughters,
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four that do not say, “It is enough”:
[c]Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “It is enough.”
The eye that mocks a father
And scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young vultures will devour it.(D)
There are three things which are too astounding and unexpectedly wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.
This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth
And says, “I have done no wrong.”
Under three things the earth is disquieted and quakes,
And under four it cannot bear up:
Under a servant when he reigns,
Under a [spiritually blind] fool when he is filled with food,
Under an unloved woman when she gets married,
And under a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
There are four things that are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
The ants are not a strong people,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;(E)
The [d]shephanim are not a mighty folk,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;(F)
The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in groups;
You may grasp the lizard with your hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.
There are three things which are stately in step,
Even four which are stately in their stride:
The lion, which is mighty among beasts
And does not turn back before any;
The [e]strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And the king when his army is with him.
If you have foolishly exalted yourself,
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.(G)
Surely the churning of milk produces butter,
And wringing the nose produces blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.
The Words of Lemuel
31 The words of [f]King Lemuel, the oracle, which his mother taught him:
What, O my [g]son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what [shall I advise you], O son of my vows?
Do not give your [generative] strength to women [neither foreign wives in marriages of alliances, nor [h]concubines],
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,(H)
Otherwise they drink and forget the law and its decrees,
And pervert the rights and justice of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink [as medicine] to him who is ready to pass away,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And no longer remember his trouble.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless;(I)
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And administer justice for the afflicted and needy.(J)
Description of a Worthy Woman
[i]An excellent woman [one who is spiritual, capable, intelligent, and virtuous], who is he who can find her?
Her value is more precious than jewels and her worth is far above rubies or pearls.(K)
The heart of her husband trusts in her [with secure confidence],
And he will have no lack of gain.
She comforts, encourages, and does him only good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with willing hands in delight.
She is like the merchant ships [abounding with treasure];
She brings her [household’s] food from far away.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And assigns tasks to her maids.(L)
She considers a field before she buys or accepts it [expanding her business prudently];
With her profits she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.
She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task]
And makes her arms strong.
She sees that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out, but it burns continually through the night [she is prepared for whatever lies ahead].
She stretches out her hands to the [j]distaff,
And her hands hold the spindle [as she spins wool into thread for clothing].
She opens and extends her hand to the poor,
And she reaches out her filled hands to the needy.
She does not fear the snow for her household,
For all in her household are clothed in [expensive] scarlet [wool].(M)
She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry.
Her clothing is linen, pure and fine, and purple [wool].(N)
Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.(O)
She makes [fine] linen garments and sells them;
And supplies sashes to the merchants.
Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure;
And she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].
She opens her mouth in [skillful and godly] wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue [giving counsel and instruction].
She looks well to how things go in her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.(P)
Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired);
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying,
“Many daughters have done nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness],
[k]But you excel them all.”
Charm and grace are deceptive, and [superficial] beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord [reverently worshiping, obeying, serving, and trusting Him with awe-filled respect], she shall be praised.
Give her of the product of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city].(Q)
- Proverbs 30:1 The identity of Agur, author of this chapter, is uncertain.
- Proverbs 30:2 This may be viewed as either a sarcastic response to an unknown critic, or simply the sincere reflections of a humble man.
- Proverbs 30:16 Hades, the nether world, the place of the dead.
- Proverbs 30:26 Small, shy, furry animals, (Hyrax syriacus) found in the peninsula of the Sinai, northern Israel, and in the region around the Dead Sea; kjv coney, orig NASB badgers.
- Proverbs 30:31 Lit girt in the loins. The meaning of the Hebrew is unclear. Other translations propose greyhound.
- Proverbs 31:1 The identity of King Lemuel is uncertain; however, ancient Jewish tradition connects Lemuel with Solomon.
- Proverbs 31:2 This chapter consists of two poetic sections. The first (vv 2-9) details the qualities needed to be a wise ruler, and the second (vv 10-31) the qualities describing an excellent wife.
- Proverbs 31:3 See note Gen 22:24.
- Proverbs 31:10 The following verses are written as an acrostic poem (each of the twenty-two verses begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Aside from the artistry, the acrostic structure also aided memorization.
- Proverbs 31:19 I.e. the staff that holds the textile fibers for spinning.
- Proverbs 31:29 The source of this remarkable woman’s success and competence is revealed in v 30, and it is a source available to everyone. She is wise because she understands and puts into practice the message contained in 9:10.