Proverbs 30:24-33

In Proverbs 30:24-33 Agur gives us another list – this time of things on earth that are little but mighty. Agur looked to the world of animals and noted four small animals, yet they are exceedingly wise. No human trained them in their wisdom; they are truly taught of God – and so we may also be. Size doesn’t determine wisdom. There are big fools and those who are small and not just wise, but exceedingly so. Agur listed these four examples which each teach a principle of wisdom. “Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.”

His list is:

  1. The ants – Ants are small and don’t have much strength compared to a person or a large animal. Their wisdom is shown in that they prepare their food in the summer. They work in the time when work can be done, and aren’t lazy or procrastinators. Hard work can overcome individual weakness.
  2. The rock badgers – The rock badgers don’t have the speed or strength to stand against a large predator, especially one with sharp teeth. But they wisely make their homes in the cliffs and make the strength of the rock their own strength. Find refuge among the strong.
  3. The locusts – The locusts don’t seem to have any kind of appointed leadership or structure. Yet they have the wisdom to advance in ranks, overwhelming anything that is in their way. If the locusts fought against themselves, they would get nowhere. They fight against the vegetation that they consume. Teamwork can win the day.
  4. The lizard – The lizard isn’t loved, but it wisely uses its skill and unique abilities to go anywhere it wants to, even in king’s palaces. Using your gifts and unique skills can take you anywhere.

Agur then goes on to share four examples of majesty. For the fourth time in his brief collection of proverbs, Agur used the three-and-four structure to explain four wonderful things, four examples of majesty. “Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.”

His list is:

  1. The lion – The first example is given a brief explanation. A lion has respect from all other animals, moves swiftly, and never retreats (does not turn back before any). Courage displays majesty.
  2. The strutting rooster – This is also translated greyhound in some versions – the word is unclear in the original text. In either case the animal struts about exhibiting its majesty.
  3. The he-goat – When we think of the stubborn persistence of the male goat, we see majesty.
  4. The King whose army is with him – When we think of the power and determination of a king whose troops are with him, marches with force, trampling on his conquered foes. In that we see majesty.

Each of these moves with majestic pace, swiftly, stubbornly, or powerfully. Agur dvises his readers to not be foolish in exalting yourself. Instead, follow what James wisely told us to do: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. If you start to exalt yourself, put your hand on your mouth.

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