Proverbs 30:21

For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

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The goal of wisdom is to please God and men (Pr 3:3-4; Luke 2:52), so Agur listed four kinds of people that are irritating and annoying. If you are wise, you will never be one, and you will reject those who are. Here are four kinds of people that disrupt the world, and you must learn to avoid being like them, being around them, or approving of them.

This chapter of Proverbs contains lists of things to teach wisdom (Pr 30:11-31). The wise prophet Agur used this method to teach inspired wisdom to Ithiel and Ucal (Pr 30:1-6). In this particular list, four kinds of people disquiet the earth – they disturb the peace and pleasure of life. The earth cannot bear them; they are irritating and frustrating to others.

Most men love a quiet life – one of peace, pleasure, and security. But that goal is ruined, if one of these four is near. You will be angered by their disrespectful and intolerable conduct. Relaxation and rest will be impossible, for they only know how to make life miserable for others, even though they never grasp at all how much others despise them.

The first is a “servant when he reigneth.” God made masters and servants, leaders and followers. When this divine order is altered, and a person God created to serve is put in authority, the power corrupts their weak character and makes them unbearable. Solomon despised this perversion of roles (Pr 19:10; Eccl 10:5-7). It is found today in labor unions, employee committees, some deacon boards, political polls, spoiled children, and so forth.

The second is a “fool when he is filled with meat.” Prosperity and pleasure are a curse to the fool, for they flatter his depraved soul and cause him to boast and offend. The best thing for a fool is a beating and starvation (Pr 20:4; 26:3). The worst thing you can give a fool is honor and kindness (Pr 19:10; 26:1,8). Such fools today are rebellious youth with pampered lives, athletes with excessive salaries, actors with huge contracts, etc.

The third is an “odious woman when she is married.” Here is a common curse to mankind – an irritating, overbearing, and obnoxious wife. Many men have had their lives ruined by these deplorable creatures. Solomon warned about her many times (Pr 11:22; 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24; 27:15-16). She will hide her ugly soul and character while dating in order to entrap a foolish man, but after marriage he will discover marital hell. It is wise and important for young men to let married men meet and interview their dates.

The fourth is a “handmaid that is heir to her mistress.” A female servant could become heir of her mistress by legitimate service, earning the approval of her mistress, or by marrying her master (Gen 16:1-4). Either the prospect or the possession of the mistress’s position had a subverting effect. Though of low origin and character, the servant would swell in pride and haughtiness. If promotion comes, men must remember their humble beginnings and reject arrogance. Today you see excessive divorce settlements, haughty politicians from slums, critical employees with stock option plans, and estate battles.

These four kinds of people ruin a peaceful and pleasant life. You must examine yourself to see if you are like any one of them, and repent before God and men if you are. Do you seek or have a position above your God-given abilities? Does your foolishness come out when prospered or in pleasure? Are you an overbearing woman? How many good men and women love your company? And are you from humble origins? Then stay humble!

You must also identify such people around you and oppose them. Do not approve promoting employees over employers. Do not allow fools to enjoy honor or pleasure. Do everything you can to keep odious girls and women single. Protect foolish young men. And remind those from poverty that their promotion is mainly by God’s grace (I Cor 4:7).