Proverbs 30:18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Yes, four which I do not understand: (NKJV)
Only three? Four? Agur must have been some kind of guy. In the next 60 seconds I can think of a hundred things that are too wonderful for me, and at least 4000 things I don’t understand.
There is no obvious interpretation or meaning of these verses (for us that is, God certainly knows the exact meaning). Commentators are all over the place in their explanations. So I don’t fancy any idea that I’m going to give some definitive observations about them. They are curious, thought provoking statements and its interesting to see what insight God gives to different readers. Each person’s life experiences, biases, spiritual depth and emotions will evoke different reactions to these verses. So what follows, for what its worth, are just my own thoughts and not really some attempt to interpret them.
- There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Yes, four which I do not understand:
Just the fact that Agur was a person who could still be awed and amazed at things he didn’t understand speaks well of his character. We live in an age today where people are not amazed or wonder at much of anything. Kids don’t wonder about much of anything because electronic entertainment has raised the bar of “sensation” so high that “boring” things likes bugs, rainbows, mountains and autumn foliage produces nothing but yawns. Adults are not typically far behind.
This is a sad development because for the person with Godly eyes, there is hardly a second that goes by that something amazing, wonderful and unexplainable is not in view: a cloud, a caterpillar, young love, a snowflake, a flower, an airplane, art, music, beautiful woodwork, ants, electricity, technology….
God has given us a whole world to marvel at and amaze us with His creativity. There is absolutely no end to the wonder that awaits those who see God’s hand in everything around us.
Also, just the fact that Agur admitted to not understanding these subtle things showed that he really thought about life and spent time observing it. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, our entertainment mad society doesn’t NEED to think deeply about life. We have endless resources of stimulation and entertainment to keep us occupied.
There are few traits that all four things have in common:
- None of these things leave a path, or trail
- None of them are mechanical; they have a flowing, unpredictable quality
- All of them are mysterious and beautiful in their own way
- The way of an eagle in the air
What makes an eagle so distinctive? In Agur’s day, or now, it is seen as an example of grace and power. It is a marvelous thing to watch an eagle, whether perched or flying. They almost seem to be other-worldly sometimes, masters of all they survey. Eagles are truly wonderful, amazing and it is hard to explain their majestic presence.
- The way of a serpent on a rock
I know snakes are scary. Most people don’t stand around and enjoy watching them slither along. But you should sometime. It is truly amazing to a see a creature with no legs, no appendages, no visible means of pushing or pulling itself glide effortlessly over any terrain, wet or dry. Snakes are an incredible example of extreme contrasts.
In reality, they are beautiful, beneficial, mostly passive creatures. With few exceptions, they are not aggressive and basically just want to be left alone. They are the “rodent police” and are actually very handy to have around if you want to get rid of mice (outside your house that is!).
Have you ever thought about why snakes seem so evil? They are just animals. There are many other animals much more dangerous and threatening. The obvious answer is because of the Old Serpent in Genesis that deceived Adam and Eve. That answers the question for Christians, or those knowledgeable of the Bible. But what about everyone else? There is almost a universal fear of snakes. And not just a fear… a sense that they are somehow evil. It’s a wonder and mystery that these beautiful, graceful, resourceful creatures have such a notorious reputation.
Snakes are quite fascinating to observe. Even if they do give you the creeps.
- The way of a ship in the midst of the sea
The sea has always been the source of mystery, intrigue, legends and myths. A ship, any ship, no matter the size, is at the mercy of the power of the sea. Only God Himself can protect a ship against the overwhelming fury of the ocean. On the other hand, what is more beautiful than a ship sailing off into the sunset on calm beautiful waters.
Ever been on the sea? It can be quite intimidating. Nothing but water as far as the eye can see, day after day. You can’t just snap your fingers and be on land. Only God knows the way of a ship in the midst of the sea. You are truly in God’s hands out in the middle of the ocean.
- And the way of a man with a virgin.
What is more mysterious, powerful and amazing than the first experience of love and intimacy between a man and woman? It is a moment that comes and goes once for each person never to be the “first” again. The power of love and physical attraction is one of mankind’s most real forces. It truly is something that cannot be understood by mere mortals.
Well that’s all interesting, but so what? For me, as I really spend time pondering these things, it’s a refreshing reminder that life is much more than what is six feet in front of me, and that every day can be a day of wonder and amazement at the beauty and mystery of God’s creation. It is a reinforcement that God has so much more in store for us and that the mysteries of life are firmly within His grasp and control.
These verses also help me to realize that I don’t have to understand everything, know everything and have life all figured out. God is doing quite well taking care of things all by Himself.
Great & Amazing God, what wonder and mystery You have blessed us with. Help us to marvel at the mysteries of life, and take comfort in knowing that You understand them all and they exist for Your glory. In Jesus Name, amen.
Contemplation: Does anything amaze you anymore other than the latest blockbuster movie, theme park or entertainment extravaganza? How about the breeze? An ant? A bird? A flower? The clouds? Are you teaching your family to be amazed at God’s creation, or man’s concoctions? Do your kids yawn in boredom at a beautiful sunset, a landscape or autumn leaves even while adjusting their portable CD player and finishing a handheld electronic game on your vacation to the mountains?
Application: It’s a simple equation. If you constantly over-stimulate yourself with what the world has to offer, you will not be amazed, marveled or awed at the wonders of God. Nor will your kids or family. Entertainment is passive and does not engage the deep thinking processes of your mind (abstract thinking). Learn to examine and wonder at God’s creation, think about it, be amazed by it, learn about it… God has given us a lifetime of stimulating and fulfilling discovery. We just have to want it.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?