Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jesus and Proverbs 30:8-9

In Proverbs 30:8-9, we read:

"Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither
poverty nor riches; feed me with the bread of my daily
need: lest I be full and deny [thee], and say, Who is
Jehovah? or lest I be poor and steal, and outrage the
name of my God" (Darby).

The words above are said to be the utterances of Agur
the son of Jakeh (Prov 30:1 Darby). However, for our
present purposes, who pinned the words is not as
important as the intended meaning of the individual,
who spoke or wrote these words.

Agur says that he desires neither poverty nor riches;
he only wants "the bread of his daily need" or "the
food that is [his] portion" (NASB). In other words,
Agur believed that there is a "golden mean" between
the two pecuniary extremes of poverty and riches. He
sought a proper monetary balance and only wanted
sustenance and covering for each day. In this way, he
would avoid becoming either self-satisfied or
(morbidly) autarchic (i.e., self-sufficient) and forget
his God or steal because of depleted funds and thereby
assail the name of his God, YHWH.

Those of us who accept the full inspiration (= the
theopneustic or God-breathed character) of the sacred
writings believe that Almighty God Himself inspired
the words of Prov 30:8-9. We think God is telling us
that we should seek a balance when it comes
to money or material possessions. This is why I find
Paul's words in 2 Cor 8:9 of so much interest:

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,
so that you by his poverty might become rich" (ESV).

There are many "gems" contained in this verse, but one
point I would like to consider is the thought of
God's Son becoming poor, so that we might become rich
by means of his poverty.

Jesus was materially poor during the time of his
earthly enfleshment. (This assertion does not imply
that I believe Jesus is still enfleshed in the
celestial heights.) He evidently did not experience that "golden
mean" which Agur suggests in Prov 30:8-9 since Jesus
did not even have a place to lay his head. Yet we are
told that Christ set an example for us by the way he
conducted himself on earth. Did he therefore show us a
new and more exalted way than that espoused by Agur?
How do we harmonize Prov 30:8-9 with 2 Cor 8:9, if
such a harmonization is even necessary? Is there
anything we can learn from Paul's words about how we
ought to view pecuniary matters in our respective
lives as Christians? Thomas Aquinas would later write
that the poverty of Christ was voluntarily undertaken
for our sakes.

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