Beyond Me

Proverbs 30:18-19

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

Too Wonderful?

In this modern age, there are a lot of wonders to behold. The majority of those wonders consist of man-made technologies that capture and hold our attention only as long as they are new. Once the newness is gone and another gadget or upgrade hit the market (which is about every thirty seconds), the “wonderful” suddenly becomes boring and old.

Is there anything in this world that is made by man that is “too wonderful” to understand? For some people, the answer would be “yes.” For example, I will probably never understand how a person can manage to play a whole symphony on a horn with just three valves, much less how a rocket gets to the moon and back. But anything that is made by man can be understood by man, duplicated, and marketed. And once something is fully understood, the awe is gone.

Yes, Too Wonderful!

However, there are some things, no matter how much we learn, that will still be “too wonderful,” so much so that it will elude the wisest men alive (or ever lived). Not even the writer of this proverb could figure these things out.

Some things seem simple on the surface, but wind up far more complicated and intricate once we begin to examine them more closely. But even when we figure out the mechanics of some things, we later realize that there is a “way” about them that defies explanation: the way of a soaring eagle; the grace of a serpent moving across a rock; how a little boat survives in the midst of the sea; how ugly men attract beautiful women (Seriously!).

There are some things that are just beyond me, and I’m glad.

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Beware the Birds

Proverbs 30:17.

“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (KJV).

Family Devotions:

My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and we have four children that are now between the ages of 12 and 17. From the time they were young, we have always made our family devotion time a priority. No matter how busy our lives get, we always endeavour to gather together around the table at dinner time to share a meal together, connect, pray and read the Bible together. Sometimes we have read through a family devotional booklet, and other times we have simply read through a passage right out of the Bible and discussed it together.

When our children were much younger, we were reading through a little devotional booklet with wisdom Scriptures from the book of Proverbs. During that time, we came across the above Scripture from Proverbs 30:17. We told our kids, “You better make sure you don’t give your parents a dirty look, or the birds will come and pluck out your eyes!” Raised eyebrows and pensive glances soon followed, and I’m sure at least one of them was wondering if that would really happen. For some reason, this became one of their favourite Bible verses – or, at least one that they talked about the most!

Understanding Wisdom Literature:

From the time I graduated from Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC in 1999, I taught there as an adjunct professor of Bible Research and Hermeneutics until I moved to Manitoba in 2007. One of the textbooks I used for my Hermeneutics class was Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This excellent little volume explains how to accurately interpret the different genres of Bible literature – history, poetry, epistle, apocalyptic literature and the like.

In this book, they wrote: “The Book of Proverbs is the primary locus of prudential wisdom – that is, rules and regulations people can use to help themselves make responsible, successful choices in life… Proverbs teaches what might be called old fashioned basic values.” They also go on to explain that the Proverbs are generalizations, that is, that they express the normal course of events, and therefore, they are not to be viewed as absolute divine promises or guarantees. In other words, if you mock your parents or disobey them, this doesn’t literally mean that a bird will come and pluck your eye out. So what is this Scripture saying then?

In simplest terms, Proverbs is saying that it is wrong, bad and sinful to disrespect or dishonour your parents. Although there may not be an immediate consequence, sooner or later, you are going to reap a negative result in your life for sowing the seeds of rebellion. The wages of sin, the Bible warns us, is death. So don’t mock your parents! Honour, obey and respect them, and God will bless you for it.


Bloodsuckers!

Proverbs 30:15-16

“The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.”

Leaches

Different sources disagree as to what a “horseleach” actually is, at least in the context of this verse. However, the general consensus is that what this proverb is referring to is a leach of some sort. Either way you put it, however you define it, a leach is a leach.

I am not a leach expert, so what I am about to say about the nasty parasite should not be taken as the gospel truth, but it seems that leaches have suckers at both ends. This could be why this proverb describes the horseleach as having two “daughters” that cry, “Give! Give!

Unsatisfied

Verse sixteen describes four things that are never satisfied. The first is the grave, followed by a “barren womb,” the dry earth, and then fire. All four are linked to the leach, the bloodsucker, that is never satisfied, always wanting more and more.

The grave yards are not getting smaller. As a matter of fact, in some places like Japan grave spaces are rented because space is so limited. Death and the grave keep crying out, “More! More!”

I have known women that cannot have children, yet their desire never goes away. I have watched water get soaked up by dry ground. I have often witnessed the insatiable desire of flames as they burn with increasing fury, yet are never satisfied with what they have destroyed. Perpetual unsatisfaction is a pitiful thing to witness.

I Can’t Get No

Do you remember the old song by the Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction?” In my mind I can hear the famous phrase Mick Jagger repeated over and over throughout the song, “I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried.” And no matter how hard he tried, still he would say, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

But that’s the world for ya’. Nothing in this world has any lasting effects. No thirst is ultimately quenched…no burning desire is ever fully satisfied…no expectation is ever completely realized. Even when people get what they think they want, they find they “can’t get no satisfaction.”

The Well

However, there is hope. There is hope for the weary, the heavy-laden, the lonely, the wounded, the hungry, and those whose thirst is beyond anything a mountain spring can quench.

In the book of John, chapter four, we read about a woman that came to draw water from a well. She was thirsty. But at that well she met Jesus.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.”  But then he said, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).

What is the answer to an undying thirst? The Water of Life.


The Last Generation

Proverbs 30:14

11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.
12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

The Plain Truth

The previous three verses have looked at what “a generation” or “a people” may do that are considered wicked and unwise. These are people who disrespect or even curse their parents (v. 11). These are people who think they are good people, but they are in fact covered in their own filth (v. 12). These are people who think they know better than anyone else, and they do not need to answer to anyone (v. 13).

In the last “generation” we get this final picture of truly cruel and wicked people. They are people who know how to tear another to shreds with their words and show contempt for others.

The Prophetic Truth

The Bible has more to say about the “last” generation:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
2 Timothy 3:1-8, ESV

Consider that state of things today:

  • Children disrespect their parents on a regular basis.
  • Everyone is taught they make their own truth and are basically good.
  • In the age of the internet, everyone thinks they are an expert in everything.
  • The shows and movies that are viewed the most are full of violence, coarse language, sex, and innuendo.
  • We care more for saving animals and the planet than saving people.
  • We turn away from the Truth and lead others away from the Truth.

Christ may not return for His Bride the Church today, but the evidence seems to be mounting that He will soon.

Are we ready, or are we helping to devour the poor and the needy?

Lord, come quickly, but give us the grace, patience, wisdom, and time to reach as many as possible with Your truth and grace.


Looking Down One’s Nose

Proverbs 30:13  

There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.
They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances. (NLT)

I remember driving one of my children to a soccer tournament at a private school. Leaving the road there was a long private driveway leading up to the school where parents of children belonging to the school were directed to a tarmacked/asphalted area close to the playing fields to park their Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMWs. Those of us from the state schools were pointed in the direction of an un-surfaced car park at the rear of the school. During the tournament the parents of the private school kids stuck out a mile. They were easily recognizable by the way they dressed, the way they spoke, and to be honest – the names of their children. They did not mix with the rest of us, and most of the state school parents concluded that these people were looking proudly around, casting disdainful glances at us. Consequently, much pleasure was derived from the fact that our team won the tournament.

Pride and arrogance are often attributed to the wealthy and those who consider themselves to belong to a superior social class. On this occasion that is just how it seemed, but in hindsight I would say that we state school parents also had an attitude problem. Just as we felt we were being judged, we also judged. And that is the danger with lofty eyes. Any human being can fall into the trap of looking down on others. Jesus had strong words for the religious leaders of His day on this subject in Matthew 23. There is always danger in considering ourselves better than someone else, and that is surely why such a warning is included in Proverbs.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
 by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
 by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 1-8 NIV)


This Generation

Proverbs 30:11.
“There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.” (KJV).

Today’s Generation of Young People:

There are several different definitions for the word generation: “the entire body of individuals born and living at about the same time; a group of individuals, most of whom are the same approximate age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, etc.” I believe that both of these definitions can aptly describe what Agur means by generation in this passage. And I believe that this passage is truer today than has ever been true before:

this generation

There is a generation – an entire body of individuals alive today – who both curse their father and don’t bless their mother. This has almost become the defining characteristic of today’s generation of young people. They are disrespectful – not only to their parents, but also to all forms of authority – government figures, police, teachers, coaches and even pastors. Just turn on the TV and you will be hard-pressed to find a positive program that promotes healthy family values, where the children honour and respect their parents. What a sad commentary on today’s society!

Cursing Instead of Blessing:

When I was younger, there were fewer people who would dare to disrespect their parents – at least not openly and to their faces. Yet today, there is a generation that curses their father. Today, they talk disrespectfully to their dad, and they talk disrespectfully about him behind his back. And not only do they curse their father (and their mother, too), but they also neglect to fulfill their duty to bless their mother (and father) by honouring and obeying them. It’s no wonder our world is in such a mess today!

In the Ten Commandments – God’s Top Ten of rules for living life that He gave His people when He delivered them from slavery in Egypt – one of those top ten rules was about how children were to treat their parents: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12). These are not the Ten Suggestions or the Ten Options – they are God’s Ten Commandments! We are commanded to honour our parents, whether we feel they deserve our respect or not, and whether we feel like it or not.

But notice that here is the first of the commandments with a promise of blessing: If we honour our parents, we will prolong our life. Quoting this commandment in the New Testament, Paul says that when we honour and obey our parents: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Eph. 6:3). Do you want to be blessed? Do you want things to go well with you? Do you want to live long and prosper? Then refuse to be a part of this generation that curses its father and refuses to bless its mother. Honour and obey your parents in the Lord – for this is right. Amen!


The Stinky House Connection

Proverbs 30:10

“Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.”

My Story

The following story is not a perfect example of Proverbs 30:10, but it is close. Let me tell it to you, after which I will try to make a connection.

A little more than a decade ago I was an insurance agent for a large, well-known life and health insurance company. My primary job was selling life insurance, which sometimes required I simply knock on doors in search of new clients.

One day, as I was canvassing a neighborhood, I came to a house and immediately smelled a very strong, nauseous odor, accompanied by the loud barking of dogs inside. The odor coming from inside the house was so bad it made me worry something was terribly wrong.

I left the house, continued to knock on doors close by, but inquired of neighbors if they had recently seen the homeowner coming or going. None had, which led one neighbor to tell me he’d ask another neighbor, a policeman, to go check things out. I did not stay, but went on my way, returning to my office a few hours later.

Upon arriving at my office in Nashville, Tennessee, I was immediately called into a meeting. My sales manager was very angry and began berating me for “sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.” Come to find out, the one living in the house that stunk was alive and well and very upset that the police had paid him a visit. The resident demanded that I be reprimanded for invading his privacy and causing him trouble.

After several minutes of being yelled at, I was told to go to my desk and stay out of other people’s business.

The Rescue

I went back to my cubicle feeling completely defeated. I had only tried to be a good citizen, but now I was about to lose my job! Just then I received a phone call…it was the father of the man living in the house…the father of the man who wanted me to be fired.

“Are you the one who visited the house on _______ Street?” asked the man on the phone. “Yessir,” I answered. “And did my son call your boss and get you in trouble?” he asked. “Yes, sir, he did,” I replied.

“Son, my boy has been nothing but trouble for me, and I have threatened to throw him out,” said the father. “He stays there rent-free, but he’s nearly destroyed my house, and I’m tired of those stinking dogs!” The man on the phone then told me not to worry about my job, or my manager, or about getting into trouble. “I’ll take care of it for you…you did the right thing…don’t worry,” he said.

The old man on the phone then told me, “Young man, I am a federal judge. Give me your boss’s phone number and I promise he will not give you any more problems. That’s my house, and I overrule my son.”

Ten minutes later I was called to my sales manager’s office once again. He was very nice to me, to say the least.

The Connection

Honestly, I don’t know what that powerful federal judge told my sales manager, but it was enough to make him act like a whipped pup. And I don’t know whatever happened to the son who lived in the house that smelled horrible, but my guess is he was made to move.

Were my actions appropriate? Was it right to report that house? I don’t really know.  All I do know is that when I was accused to my “master,” somebody besides me was found “guilty.”