Bridges on Proverbs 30:1-3
 
Charles Bridges on Proverbs 30:1-3
 
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1.  The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, 2.  Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. 3.  I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. {have: Heb. know}
 
THE two concluding chapters of this Book are an appendix to the Proverbs of Solomon. Nothing certain is known of the writers; and it is vain to speculate where God is silent. Far better is it to give the full interest of our mind and heart to the matter of instruction, than to indulge unprofitable curiosity respecting the writers. Our ignorance of the writers of many of the Psalms in no degree hinders their profit to us. We know their author, when the penmen are hid. It is enough for us to be assured, that they were “holy men of God,” who wrote “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21.)
Agur was doubtless one of the wise men found in many ages of the Old Testament Church. His words were a prophecy; — that is — divine instruction† given unto Ithiel and Ucal (Ithiel especially) probably two of his scholars, whose names are equally unknown to us. Perhaps they came to him for instruction, and he was led to express himself in the most humbling sense of his own ignorance. ‘You come to me for instruction. But surely I am more brutish than any man; not having the advantages of learning wisdom (Amos 7:14, 15), or the knowledge of the holy God (Daniel 4:18), and of the holy revelation of his name.’
His language is indeed strong. Stronger could scarcely have been used. He confesses himself to be, not only brutish, as man is by nature;† but, though enlightened by heavenly teaching, more brutish than any man. Were these the words of truth? Or were they the affectation of modesty? Or was it false humility, dishonorably denying the work of God? He was now speaking from the mouth of God. And how could he dissemble in his name? He spake the truth as it really is, as consciousness could not but speak; as self-knowledge under divine teaching dictated. For let a man take “the candle of the LORD;” given him to “search all the inward parts of the belly” (Chapter 20:27); and what a mass of vanity will he find there! Such folly mixed with his wisdom! such ignorance with his knowledge! that, instead of pluming himself upon his elevation above his fellow-men, he can but cry out in shame — Surely I am more brutish than any man! Whoever knows his own heart, knows that of himself, that he can hardly conceive of any one else being so degraded as himself.†
Add to which — it is the child of God comparing himself with his perfect standard. And in the perception of his own short-comings, the most discerning clear-sighted penitent feels, that he can never abase himself as he ought before his God — He would lie low, lower still, infinitely lower, in the dust. Holy Paul, comparing himself with the spirituality of the perfect law, exclaims — “I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14.) Isaiah, in the presence of a holy God — cries out — “Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5.) Job in the manifestation of the power of God sinks into absolute nothingness and unworthiness. (Job 40:4; 42:6.) David in the full view of the wisdom of God is made to see the perverseness of his own folly, and take up the very confession of Agur — “So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee”!† The nearer our contemplation of God, the closer our communion with him, the deeper will be our self-abasement before him; like the winged seraphs “before the throne, who with twain cover their faces, and with twain cover their feet.” (Isaiah 6:2.) Well, therefore, may the wisest and holiest of men, though “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10), take up the humiliating confession — Surely I am more brutish than any man — Genuine humility is the only path of wisdom. Unless a man stoops, he can never enter the door. He must become “a fool, that he may be wise.”† And when he is humbled in his shame, then let him see the house of his God in its breadth and length (Ezekiel 44:5); enjoying clearer, and panting still for clearer manifestations of the incomprehensible God.
But how reverently should we approach this divine presence! With what holy hands should we open his revelation! dreading a careless, light, and presumptuous spirit; yet withal cherishing those nobly ambitious desires for deeper and higher knowledge; yea — reiterating them before our God with that repetition, which to a carnal mind would be nauseating tautology; but which he who knows our hearts loves to hear, and will beyond our desires abundantly fulfill.