Proverbs 30:1 says the chapter’s words are “the sayings of Agur son of Jakeh.” Agur was writing “to Ithiel and Ucal” (NAS); these men could have been disciples or friends of Agur, although some Bibles translate the meaning of the two names with the assumption that they do not refer to actual people. Most commentators believe Agur lived in the same era as Solomon. We don’t know much about Agur except what we can glean from this one chapter.
The name Agur comes from a Hebrew word meaning “collector.” Agur and Jakeh are only mentioned here in the Bible and are otherwise unknown.
Agur’s proverbs offer insight regarding his thoughts on life. Agur was weary and worn out (verse 1), he did not consider himself wise (verses 2–4), and he considered God’s words completely true (verses 5–6). In Proverbs 30 Agur expresses to God a request that the Lord remove lying from him and give him neither riches nor poverty (verses 7–9).
Agur’s teachings include a warning not to slander servants (verse 10) and an observation that many people see themselves as better than they really are (verses 11–14). Agur then begins a numbered list of sayings that includes three things never satisfied (the barren womb, the land’s need for water, and the end of a fire, verses 15–16). Verse 17 adds that the person who mocks his parents will experience judgment.
Verses 18–19 list four things beyond Agur’s understanding: an eagle in the sky, a serpent on a rock, a ship on the seas, and a man with a woman. In verses 21–23 is a list of four things that cause the earth to tremble: a slave who becomes king, a well-fed fool, an unloved married woman, and a servant who replaces the wife in the household. Verses 24–28 note four small things that are very wise: ants, rock badgers, locusts, and lizards. Verses 29–31 specify four proud things: a lion, a rooster, a goat, and a king with his army. Verses 32–33 advise that, if you have been foolish in exalting yourself, you need to stop; also, prodding someone to anger is unwise.
These simple yet profound observations on life reveal many aspects of this otherwise unknown man named Agur. For example, Agur realized God’s wisdom was greater than his own. He understood the temptation of riches. He knew many aspects of life and of God’s creation would remain a mystery beyond his understanding. And Agur knew the importance of controlling anger, avoiding foolishness, and living for God. He encourages his readers to refrain from a life that dishonors God and results in judgment. Rather, Agur promotes living life with a proper fear of God and concern for other people.