I am weary, O God;
I am weary and worn out, O God.
I am too stupid to be human,
and I lack common sense.
I have not mastered human wisdom,
nor do I know the Holy One.
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!
Every word of God proves true.
He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
Do not add to his words,
or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.
(Proverbs 30:1-6, New Living Translation)
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
And yet…as I read these first lines of chapter thirty, the mere beginning of the “sayings of Agur,” I had to chuckle. How fitting this journey should near its end with a confession of “stupidity” and a lack of common sense! For while I have felt some growth in understanding wisdom, as I look at my life, I’m not sure if I’ve yet become any wiser. Yes, Agur, I must agree—I have not mastered wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.
I am grateful for Agur’s example here. Ironically, there is wisdom in his confession that he lacks a mastery of human wisdom. For he realizes that for all his effort (he is ‘weary and worn out’, v. 1), he has just begun. He has made it to the top of what he thought was the summit, only to discover it was merely one peak in a vast mountain range of wisdom yet to be explored. And as he stands there, he rightly reflects on the One who holds all wisdom. “He acknowledges the limits of human understanding and humbly confesses that only God is truly wise [even as he challenges us all] to admit that no one has achieved direct understanding of the world and the truth behind the world” (Garrett). No one, that is, save the Holy One.
For it is God, and God alone, who has gone up to heaven and come down.
God holds the wind in his fists.
God wraps the oceans in his cloaks.
God has created the whole wide world.
Yahweh is his name, and Jesus, his Son.
I stand before this God, and his Son, with my hand over my mouth, and easily, freely admit that no words in this 31 day journey of simple articles are worth staking one’s life on. It is every word of God that proves true, not mine, nor any man’s. He is the One who is a shield to all who come to him. And part of that shielding is found in his revelation having been proven true in the real world of human experience. Proverbs has been tested, tried, and passed the test. There IS wisdom here.
So it is not mine nor Agur’s objective to add to God’s words. Rather, the hope has been to declare God’s words, and in the declaration, to give the sense of them so that people may understand and apply them (Nehemiah 8:8).
It is my prayer that the coming end of this series will not be the end of your exploration of wisdom, and thus the pursuit of a good life. I know it will not be for me. This has been merely the beginning. We stand with Agur at merely the first peak, with the glorious vista of a mountain range of wisdom yet to be discovered and lived!
Thank you for the adventure of living as your sons and daughters in your ever-expanding kingdom. There is so much to learn, explore, discover, and achieve. Sometimes, on the weary days, that looks more overwhelming than exciting. But help us to remember we have your Spirit as our helper and guide on the journey! With him, we shall renew our strength, mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). May we take up your great guidebook, your Holy Word, and set out with the Spirit’s help, to pursue a wise and good life. For your glory, and our joy.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.