We all know what it is like to be in need. From the time we are infants we are aware of being in need of someone else. Once we grow and have people that we are responsible for we understand that we are needed. Somewhere there is a shift from being in need to supplying the need for others. Actually, there is no shift at all. We are never totally out of the realm of having need. We may fool ourselves or we may just ignore it, but the truth is that we are in need. Our need for something outside of ourselves only grows as we grow, despite how we may feel or process our world.
Proverbs 30:1-9 echoes this idea of need. This is not just need of human aid, but of the divine. Let’s read this passage:
“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]
2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
I do not have human understanding.
3 I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
Surely you know!
5 “Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words,
or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
We don’t know a lot about our brother Agur here. The passage lacks biographical information about him. While this is not a Wikipedia entry, we can learn a lot about Agur and who he is based on his words. From a very macro-level we learn that Agur is a man that is in need. He readily acknowledges in vs. 2 that he does not have understanding. Further, in vs. 3 he admits that he has not attained as much knowledge as the Holy One (Moses, Jesus?). There is a sense of frustration and need here. Agur over and over makes a point to show how great God is and how he is not, well, great. He is a man in need of God.
Agur’s need isn’t just implicit here – it’s not just something that we read into the text. He explicitly asks God for two things. First, that God would keep falsehoods and lies from Agur. Second, that God would give him neither poverty nor riches. He wants to make sure he keeps his relationship to God in a proper perspective. Of all the things that Agur is – he is a man in need.
Returning to my first comments here, i.e. not needing help as we grow. Agur seems to be mature beyond his years. For the purposes of our reflection today, there is one more thing that Agur is: Agur is humble. He acknowledges his need for God despite his age or wisdom that he may or may not have attained. This is seen no more clear than in vs. 5-6. Agur emphasizes the importance and truthfulness of God’s Word. God (and His Word) is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. When Agur is in need, he knows where to go.
This is a very fitting passage for Lenten season. During this season we reflect on our need for Jesus. We, like Agur, are in need of God’s Word. We are fortunate enough to have God’s Living Word with us in the person and work of Christ Jesus. Jesus is our refuge if we allow ourselves to admit our need for Him.
Father, Pastor, Writer