Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Humility by Annie Lee
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
— Proverbs 30:7-9
The last chapter of the book of Proverbs opens with the line The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy... clearly indicating this was written by a different hand to the earlier collection. The contents of the chapter also establish this, being different in style and content to most of what precedes. Hard to image Solomon asking to be denied riches! And after all, it is unlikely Solomon was the only man of wisdom in his day.1
Agur reminds us, as Buddha did 3-400 years later of the spiritual importance of the middle way, or path.2 In a society who had strayed far from Mosaic law, where people like Solomon had wealth beyond imagination while others starved and struggled, this is a fierce confrontation to the system. Claiming a lack of education and learning, Agur speaks from his heart,
Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.3
He calls on those of us who, like him, may lack the status, education or intellectual articulation to argue against a rotten system. Agur makes it clear that we too have the sensitivity to know when something is wrong, and the God-given right to speak up. Agur appears nowhere else in the Bible, and very little is known of him. Whether he was truly uneducated is unlikely, and in fact matters not. He appears here to walk in our shoes, and teach us something important. This reminds me of someone else who appeared 950 years later, in Nazareth.