So, summer has ended, and next week we start looking at the Book of Nehemiah. 95% of the time, I look up commentaries to make sure I’m on the right track in writing the devotions. This time I’m using a book by Charles Swindoll – Hand Me Another Brick. I’m excited. The Book of Nehemiah really hits home today as we watch Nehemiah try to fix a mess with God’s help.
Did you know that the last 2 chapters of Proverbs were not written by Solomon? Proverbs 30 was written by Agur and Proverbs 31 was written by King Lemuel. I’m going to leave Proverbs 31, maybe until Mother’s Day, since it has that famous passage about how amazing women are.
Gotquestions.org helped me find out who Agur was – sort of.
“Proverbs 30:1 says the chapter’s words are “the sayings of Agur son of Jakeh.” Agur was writing “to Ithiel and Ucal” (NAS); these men could have been disciples or friends of Agur, although some Bibles translate the meaning of the two names with the assumption that they do not refer to actual people. Most commentators believe Agur lived in the same era as Solomon. We don’t know much about Agur except what we can glean from this one chapter.
The name Agur comes from a Hebrew word meaning “collector.” Agur and Jakeh are only mentioned here in the Bible and are otherwise unknown.”
Proverbs 30: 1 – 9 NLT
“The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message.
I am weary, O God;
I am weary and worn out, O God.
2 I am too stupid to be human,
and I lack common sense.
3 I have not mastered human wisdom,
nor do I know the Holy One.
4 Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down?
Who holds the wind in his fists?
Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?
Who has created the whole wide world?
What is his name—and his son’s name?
Tell me if you know!
5 Every word of God proves true.
He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
6 Do not add to his words,
or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.
7 O God, I beg two favours from you;
let me have them before I die.
8 First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”
Have you ever felt as confused as Agur seems to be in these verses? My guess is ‘yes’. I think we all have moments when we feel so inadequate. Agur feels “weary and worn-out”, unable to think clearly, and even feeling he doesn’t have the intelligence to live well. Life seems overwhelming to him.
I know I’ve felt that way many times. Something breaks and you don’t know how to fix it, or who you can call to help out. One of your kids is involved in something that scares and concerns you, and you don’t know how to get him/her back on track. They just won’t listen. A serious illness or crisis – like loss of a job – happens in family life, and you feel helpless. During this pandemic, you want to see friends and family, but you’re not sure if that is a safe decision. Do you go out to restaurants? Do you send your kids back to school? Am I really smart enough to deal with the problems life brings?
Agur does know that there are no humans on earth that have God’s power. (v. 4) No one has the ability to do life perfectly and solve all problems, or if there is, who is it? “What is his name – and his son’ name? Tell me if you know!” But, Agur also knows one more thing – “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (v. 5) We may feel overwhelmed and not smart enough to figure out what to do, but … God does!
One of the key things to staying calm is realizing that we can turn to God. We don’t have to do everything by ourselves. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6) I think Agur lived that way. He had a prayer which asked God to help him be honest in everything. He also asked God to provide him a life that was just adequate enough to keep him humble and trusting God. Think about those requests for a minute. Being open and honest, and trusting God can lead to a much calmer life without overwhelming worry.
Here are some verses in one of my favourite chapters in the Bible that reinforce that concept of trusting God.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (v. 8)
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” (14 – 16
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (v. 26 – 28)
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (v. 31)
We can feel overwhelmed with whatever is coming our way, but God is for us, taking care of us.
Our song for today is God of All My Days by Casting Crowns