Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but only my daily bread.
Agur son of Jakeh was not a major player in the biblical record. Neither were Ithiel and Ucal, but God spoke through Agur and they passed the message down to others and what he had to say, as he was carried along by the Spirit of God, is found in Proverbs 30. He had two requests of God He Hw and they were not what we would expect them to be.
If you knew you had the undivided attention of a wealthy and powerful man, who loved you and was predisposed to help you, what would you request? Whatever it might be, it would probably be different from what Agur requested of God: he showed the depth of his character and the height of his wisdom by asking for the better things in life.
First, he requested that falsehood and lies be kept far from him. That request considered not only what came from his mouth but what was said in his presence. He was praying out of the same desire that David expressed, “truth in the inner parts” of his heart and his thoughts (Psalm 51:6). It was similar in character to the way our Lord taught us to pray: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. It was a request to know the truth, the truth about ourselves, our sin, what we have to confess, and the truth about the forgiveness and grace of God. And it was a request not to be deceived by our pride, by the words of others, by our lusts, by the deceptions of the evil one, or by anything else in the universe.
Behind this was a commitment to learn and to study, because the only way to keep falsehoods at bay is to be built up with the truth. It was a commitment not to be dominated by emotions and fears, but to let the promises of God embraced by faith become the dominant factors in his thinking. It was also an acknowledgement that temptation will always come – keeping the false “far from me” admitted their allure and very real temptation to our hearts.
Many of the lies of life are based on our memories that twist things and avoid seeing events in the past with clarity. Our hearts and minds were created to hold the truth, and not to create a misshapen “memory” of events. This is why Christ taught us to pray the prayer of both confession for our sins and to ask for the help of God in forgiving others. Let our hearts and minds be built up by the truth, and one of the fundamental truths that must be considered is the reality of the grace and mercy of God that allows us to accept our own errors and to forgive others as well.
The second request was to just have his daily bread. It was in line with the first request, that poverty and great wealth can be deceptive in themselves. The first leads to cursing God for no reason; the second leads to baseless pride and arrogance, forgetting God. Instead he requested just enough for the day, just enough to have his needs met by a gracious and attentive God.
Agur was a wise man. He requested to be dominated by the truth, not by pride, lust or fear. If we can live by the truth, keep deception at abeyance, and embrace the eternal realities of life, if we can get up everyday for service and to fulfill our responsibilities, and receive enough for that day without fear and worry, if we can live this way, then we have the freedom to enjoy all of life under the love and Lordship of Christ. Our heads will be clearer and our hearts purer and our influence greater and our fulfillment in life limitless.
Lord, we ask of you the same things that Agur requested so long ago: keep lies and falsehoods far from us and give us our daily bread. Build us up with your truth and give us wisdom to see through the lies of the devil and the world, even the lies that come from our own hearts. As we serve and work, give us what we need to sustain physical life, and let us have the grace to share it with others. Lead us your way, not the way of temptation, not the way of worry and fear, and give us joy along the journey of life with you. Amen.