Wise enough to know our limitations

Proverbs 30 is ‘the sayings of Agur son of Jakeh.’

That’s all we know for sure about him, except that :

1) He was wise. A keen observer of nature – he philosophised from and about it. He drew sharp analogies about life from observation of (for example) ants, fire – even locusts, lizards and leeches! (three great Ls for a preacher there… ). The name ‘Agur’ means collector – he compiled knowledge wherever available. I bet he’d have loved the internet!

2) He was willing to admit what he didn’t know: There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand…

Only three or four? Wow – good going! I’m sure there was more, he was perhaps saying, “Today, I’m struggling to get my head around these particular things…”

I read a great book, “How to think like Leonardo da Vinci.”

The author notes how that great polymath was continually curious, asking questions and learning to applying knowledge in practical situations and learning from mistakes. He honed all his senses to observe in a way that combined science and art and formed connections between different observations and problems. The book has fantastic suggestions throughout to help us grow in such wisdom utilising Da Vinci’s techniques – for example, carrying a little notebook everywhere to record your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Leonardo was of course famously centuries ahead of his time – but the unknown Agur was ahead of him!

The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It starts when we know what we don’t know. Agur had the humility to know that however clever he was, he still had a lot to learn about the God who made the lion and the lizard: He starts:“I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.”

He finishes by warning of the danger of self exaltation.

“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself….clap your hand over your mouth!”

Wisdom indeed. But I think I’ll keep quiet.

One thought on “Wise enough to know our limitations

  1. I hope you can believe me when I tell you that in the past few days I have been working on starting my own blog and my very first bit of writing runs exactly along the same thread of what you are talking about here.

    In these last few weeks if not months, I feel God has been given me a few private lessons on his promise: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”, I am talking about the first half of that promise, of course. I feel like a player in a game whose counter falls on the wrong box and he is forced to go back to square one behind everybody else.

    You are so right! When one naively feels that they know pretty much everything there is to know about God or his heart,when we get too smug, we grieve the Holy Spirit and it flies away like a dove whose peace has been disturbed by a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. The very thing I dreaded, I have now become.

    On the plus side, in ridding me of my unhealthy pride, God has now set me FREE to be the person he created me to be, without having anything to prove to myself or anybody else. He has let me know He is all sufficient and all able to fight my battles. His grace still amazes me and my prayer for today would be that none of us ever lose that sense of amazement and awe as we stop to reflect on how God knows each and everyone of us in such an intimate and caring way that these things would be pointed to us and dealt with so that one day we may be worthy of at least touching the hem of His garment.

    By the way, AGUR in the Basque language means “Goodbye” and on that note Agur it is!

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