Proverbs 30:7

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
– Proverbs 30:7

Verses 7-9 bring Agur’s opening to a close with the only prayer in the book of Proverbs. The word for require means to ask or request. It can mean demand, but probably is not that forceful here. The request is given for the timeframe of his mortal life—before I die. His concern is to end his life well and with wisdom. From the following verses of the prayer, wisdom entails controlling speech and natural desires (Proverbs 15:16; 19:1, 22).

Proverbs 30:4

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
– Proverbs 30:4

Agur asks six questions and most commentators have asked a lot more. The questions echo passages like Job 38, where the loftiness of God above humans is highlighted. The questions ask of might works, like Proverbs 8:24-29, which are creative acts of divine power and so, separate from men. Opinions vary about the “son” mentioned in the last line. Ultimately, Agur writes that wisdom belongs to God alone and comes down to earth in his Son.

Proverbs 30:1


The book of Proverbs ends with three collections of sayings that cap the book similarly to the beginning in chapters 1-9. Chapter 30 is the collection known as, “The words of Agur.” This collection of sayings is unique in ways form the other wisdom collections in the book. It is more autobiographical and not as generalized. In this regard, the collection reminds us of Ecclesiastes more than other proverbs. These sayings are called a “prophecy,” or oracle. It also contains the only prayer in the book (Proverbs 30:7-9). These sayings also clearly reflect the old covenant law, as there are clear references to four out of ten of the commandments.

The dominant theme of this chapter is the limits of human understanding and the human search for wisdom. Agur seems to acknowledge the noetic effects of the fall on human beings. Agur acknowledges that God’s wisdom had to be brought down to man. He also makes us of Psalms covenantal language for protection and deliverance.

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
– Proverbs 30:1

This collection opens with several proper names we have no information about, Agur, Jakeh, Ithiel, and Ucal. Various scholars have tried to find some connection to Solomon, or have sought to take the names as words rather than names. We know there were wisdom sages besides just Solomon (1 Kings 4:30-31), so it’s unnecessary to try to make every wisdom saying somehow coded to Solomon. The attempts at interpreting the names as words has yielded some interesting results, but no coherent translation.

The word for prophecy is most often translated burden. It refers to an oracle from God and is most often used in connection with the prophets. This means the sayings in this collection were given to Agur by revelation.