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Give me, give me, give me and 5 sets of 4

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Read Proverbs 30:15-33

Have you ever looked at the sunrise over the ocean or the sunset over Oklahoma? Such sights bring wonder to the heart but few words that adequately describe them.

Photographs and paintings only do justice to a portion of their majesty.

At best, we can take it all in and cherish the moment.

We read of all the things that transpired to bring about the birth of the Savior in a manger in the City of David and we accept them as the Christmas story, but Mary stored up all these things in her heart.

Sometimes that’s all that we can do is to store up our witness to God’s majesty in our hearts.

We come to a place in the proverbs where what we read may not tell us what to do. We come to a place where the author just says, “These are things that I have seen or understand or can’t understand or that amaze me. The best I can do is say, ‘Here they are.’”

Let’s start with greed.

The leech has two daughters.
‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

The Message puts it this way.

A leech has twin daughters
named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.”

The author doesn’t explain greed; he just says that greed is never satisfied. Perhaps our counsel here is the same quip that every alcoholic knows.

One drink is too many and a thousand is never enough.

Likewise, greed can never be satisfied so abstinence is the best, perhaps only course of action in this area.

Now we come to the first set of 4.

There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

Three of these deal with things that are dead or barren. The last one consumes and leaves a wasteland.

In something of an interlude, this next quip again speaks to parenting and discipline; except in this presentation, the child has consequences.

The eye that mocks a father,
that scorns an aged mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
will be eaten by the vultures.

We have read much about how the parents feel when their child lives wisely or corruptly, but in this case it is the child that bears the consequences.

What is the parent supposed to do with such information?

Leave it in plain sight for the kid to accidently stumble upon next to an eye patch with the child’s name on it. Every parent resorts to a little fear every now and then.

Now on to the next set of 4.

There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman.

These might collectively just be called mysteries. Sure, science can explain a lot, but there are some things that just take your breath.

Once again we go from a set of 4 to a single quip.

This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth
and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.

Agur returns to the warnings that came early on in the Proverbs. The adulterous woman and the prostitute stand in stark contrast to Lady Wisdom and to the Virtuous Wife of the next chapter.

The Proverb says that just as amazing as the soaring eagle or the palpitations of young love is the fact that the very carnal woman feels no remorse. Her life goes moment to moment without purpose. She thinks only, “OK, who is next?”

And it is on to the next 4.

Under three things the earth trembles,
under four it cannot bear up:
a servant who becomes king,
a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
a contemptible woman who gets married,
and a servant who displaces her mistress.

The author says that there are some things that are so absurd they make the world appear upside down.

Today we might say, here’s what’s crazy:

· People who make more for not working that for getting a job.

· Twenty-four checkout lanes in Walmart and two checkers, one of whom needs a CSM.

· Four bucks a gallon for gas because there might be another Tsunami next year.

· A television show called American Idol in a country shouting really loud that we are a Christian nation. At least we’re shouting when we are not texting in our votes.

There are plenty of things that we see every day that don’t seem to make any sense.

We know that we live in a broken world but we also know that the original design was spectacular so we still have high hopes of a world in sync with God.

Sometimes we get a glimpse of that.

Sometimes we see insanity all around us.

We in this generation are blessed to know how the end of the age wraps up, but until then, we bear witness to some things that are just upside down.

We move to the next set of 4 without the intermission of a lone proverb.

Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
hyraxes are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

When we think of ants, badgers, locusts, or lizards, wisdom seldom comes to mind, but sure enough, these creatures accomplish some remarkable things.

The ant practices husbandry. The badger is creative in finding a home in the rocks. Locusts somehow manage some uniformity. The lizard lives with royalty.

Today, we might say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or “The proof is in the pudding,” or “Good things come in small packages.”

Wise people can learn from what is right in front of us.

Yogi Berra put it this way. “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

The wisdom of God is revealed in the magnitude and the miniscule nature of the creation.

The Apostle Paul would go so far as to say that any person should be able to discern there is a Creator by witnessing the miracle of the creation itself.

The fabric of wisdom that is woven into the creation exists right before our eyes.

It is time for 4 more.

There are three things that are stately in their stride,
four that move with stately bearing:
a lion, mighty among beasts,
who retreats before nothing;
a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
and a king secure against revolt.

This is about things that are stately. What is it to be stately? It is to have a dignified, unhurried, and grand manner; or to be majestic in manner and appearance.

This is not to be aloof and distant. It is to be confident in who God made you to be.

When we scramble to be who the world thinks we should be, we are frazzled, hurried, and just out of sync with the universe.

When we traverse this life using God’s wisdom to navigate, we are unhurried and majestic.

There is majesty in a sunrise and there is majesty in living God’s way.

And so we come to the end of the chapter and depart from the previous mode and end up getting some advice.

If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
or if you plan evil,
clap your hand over your mouth!
For as churning cream produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife.

If you are up to no good or engaged in foolishness, stop it!

Stop it!

Without apologies to Nike, JUST STOP IT!

And so the wisdom given to us courtesy of Agur, son of Jakeh, comes to an end.

How can we sum it up?

Majesty! Open your eyes and witness the majesty of the Lord. Learn just from observing the wisdom with which God created the universe.

And if you are up to no good, just stop it.

Amen.

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