Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.
These harsh and critical words are the key to wisdom. These are the words of a prophet. Will you humble yourself like this for wisdom? He knows you are foolish, so the sooner you admit it, the sooner He will give you wisdom. This is how Solomon became wise.
When God offered young Solomon anything he wanted, he humbly said he was a child in understanding and asked for wisdom (I Kgs 3:5-9). God blessed this perfect request with very great blessings of understanding and much, much more as well (I Kgs 3:10-13).
The fastest way to wisdom is to be a fool; God resists the proud, but He will give grace to the lowly (I Cor 3:18-20; Jas 4:6,10). The fastest way to folly is to think yourself wise, for God will destroy the proud (Pr 26:12; Is 5:21; Ro 1:20-25; I Cor 1:19-21; Gal 6:3).
This proverb is by the prophet Agur (Pr 30:1), revealing his humble spirit and modest thoughts about teaching two students, Ithiel and Ucal. He used “surely” to strengthen his admission of his own ignorance, but what does “brutish” mean?
Brutish. Of or pertaining to the brutes, or lower animals, as opposed to man. In want of intelligence or in failure to use reason: dull, irrational, uncultured, stupid.
Agur opened instruction to his pupils by claiming to be more ignorant than any man, like a brute beast; and there is no false humility here, for he wrote by prophetic inspiration.
The prophet Agur and King Solomon are not alone, for the same spirit was also in Moses (Num 12:3), Elihu (Job 32:6-7), David (I Sam 18:23; Ps 131:1), Asaph (Ps 73:21-22), Jeremiah (Jer 1:6), Daniel (Dan 2:30), Amos (Amos 7:14-15), and Paul (Eph 3:8).
Do you detect a pattern? Great men of God do not claim to be wise, for their secret to success lies in their total humility before their Creator and Lord. This is God’s order for your thinking (Ro 12:16), as this brings Him the greater glory (I Cor 1:27). The great God of heaven respects the man poor in spirit and that has a contrite heart (Is 57:15; 66:1-2).
Men today cannot grasp Agur’s words, and they would never say them. They are drunk on the lies of self-esteem and self-love, so they cannot and will not see themselves as they truly are. Let God by His Spirit and word humble you today and save you from such narcissistic folly and heresy. Man at his best state is altogether vanity (Ps 39:5)
Pride is a terrible crime and sin. God hates it, but He will give wisdom to the humble. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Pr 11:2). “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Pr 13:10). The great king Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that God will abase the proud (Dan 4:37).
But God will bless the poor in spirit with riches of wisdom and other spiritual blessings (Matt 5:3; Luke 6:24). The man who says, “I do not know what to do,” can stand still and see God work for him (II Chr 20:12,17). Go to Him this way today and become wise. The crucial ingredient for you to become wise is to first be humble. God loves humility.
Many dream of hearing an offer like God gave Solomon, but they fail to realize that they have the offer in writing, in James 1:5, where God offered to you, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas 1:5). What a promise! Do you want wisdom? Ask for it! Now!
Humility about wisdom has its limits. No man knows anything as perfectly as he should (I Cor 8:2), but you should respond with confidence when answering questions or confronting enemies (Pr 22:17-21; Job 32:6-14; 33:1-3; 36:1-4; Luke 1:3; I Cor 14:20; II Tim 3:17). The truth and wisdom of inspired scripture is your confidence, not yourself.
Has there ever been a more humble or meek man than Jesus Christ? Never! Yet He had all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). He was lowly in heart, forbad promotional efforts, and never raised his voice in the street (Matt 11:29; 12:15-20). Where is He now? Exalted in glorious majesty and power at the right hand of God! Love Him and praise Him today, and follow His perfect example of humility unto honor.
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