Three Things, Four
Copyright 1994 by Release Magazine, reproduced with permission
"There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, The way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden." Proverbs 30:18-19
I may have liked the sayings of Agur when I was a kid because they got in at the end of the book of Proverbs like third string players get in for a few seconds in the fourth quarter of a game that is already safe or unsalvageable. Solomon pretty much dominates the first 22 1/2 chapters, the anonymous "Wise" gets the next 7 1/2, then Agur gets one and finally Lemuel. Lemuel concentrates on wine and women; Agur focuses on song.
Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
Coneys are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
Locusts have no king,
yet they go forth in ranks;
A lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in king's palaces. Proverbs 30:24-28
I might have liked Agur because he had such an ugly name. Few people really like their own names - not many have as much reason to hate it as did Agur. Most people dislike their names much like they dislike their noses or ears or eye-brows - it's pretty much just a symptom of adolescent self-contempt. I just think that no matter how uninflated his ego may have been, he may likely have wanted a more flattering name - at least maybe one slightly less appalling.
Two things I ask of You, oh Lord;
do not refuse me before I die;
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me my daily bread.
Otherwise I might 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. Proverbs 30:7-9
Of course he came to terms with it - given his sense of wonder and his practical approach to prayer. He didn't apparently fuss over religiosity - there is nothing fancy in what he asked of God. He may have gone a little overboard with requests (considering that he says he is asking two favors and ends up asking for five) but I suspect that God took into account his spirit instead of checking his math. Agur might have snuck the answer to his prayer into his very request - a guy with this bad math may have had no idea how much he had or didn't have, he may not have known if he was poor or wealthy. He knew only enough to ask God to be involved - to, in fact, be the focus of his life, the source of his security, the object of his desires.
It is sometimes amazing what you can find tucked away in these much overlooked books of the Bible. It is amazing what shines through the sometimes supposed cracks. It's wonderful what a third-string, nearly unknown guy with an ugly name and a poorly developed sense of math might have to say to us.
Don't stop reading. Don't stop listening. There are many things that are too amazing for all of us, many more that can empower us beyond what we can understand.