Four Comely Things
1. This is the last in a series of things Agur describes using the same poetical pattern:
a. Vs. 15-16 – Two things that are never satisfied.
b. Vs. 18-20 – Three, no four things that are too wonderful to know.
c. Vs. 21-23 – Three, no four things that are disquieting and unbearable for life on the earth.
d. Vs. 24-28 – Four things that are little, but wise.
e. Vs. 29-31 – Four comely things
2. In this series, Agur mentions a lion, a greyhound, a goat, and a king.
a. These are the four comely things.
b. And they have a valuable lesson for us.
“There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going.”
1. Here we see the familiar pattern: three things, yea, four.
a. In this series, there are three things from the animal kingdom: lion, greyhound, and a he goat.
b. The fourth is from mankind – a human king.
2. In each series, each of the things mentioned have something in common.
a. In the series in vs. 18, all four things were too wonderful too know.
b. In the last series, the four things were similar in that they were all small but wise. (Vs. 24)
c. In this series, the four things mentioned also have something in common: they “go well” and are “comely in going.”
3. They all “go well.”
a. The word “go” means: “stride; walk; step.”
b. The word “well” means pleasing; good; successful; beautiful; beneficial; favorable.
c. The expression (go well) speaks of a walk that is beautiful; admirable; favorable.
4. They all “are comely in going.”
a. The term “going” is not the same as the previous word translated “go.”
b. The word translated “going” means to travel; to walk; to walk about; to march.
c. The word translated “comely” means do well; beautiful; poise; stately.
d. The two expressions are virtually synonymous.
e. Agur tells us that what these four things share in common is a poised walk, an upright gait, a dignified step.
f. There is something impressive and noble about their “strut” or the way they walk… their gait.
“A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any.” (vs. 30)
1. The first creature mentioned with a stately walk is the lion.
a. The lion is called the king of the jungle. They walk around like they really believed it too. They walk about like they owned the jungle.
b. There is a huge difference between the royal strut of a lion and the way a tiny sand piper flits across the beach and away from anything that comes near.
2. The lion is strongest among the beasts.
a. This is quite a contrast between the creatures mentioned previously. (vs. 24- little upon the earth.)
b. The ants are a people not strong. (vs. 25)
c. The conies are but a feeble folk. (vs. 26)
d. The locusts and the spider are also comparatively small and weak.
e. But that is not the case with the lion. He is strong. And he walks about as if he realized his strength.
3. The lion “turneth not away for any.”
a. In other words, the lion doesn’t back down from anyone.
b. Sometimes a tiny mouse can spook a horse or even an elephant; but a lion is not easily spooked.
c. The lion is fearless. The lion is courageous. The lion is bold.
d. He is not like the cony that runs under a rock for shelter when he sees another animal coming.
e. The lion turns away from no other creature.
“A greyhound; an a he goat also” (vs. 31)
1. In vs. 31a, we have two more creatures mentioned that are “comely in going.”
2. Greyhound: This term is problematic in interpreting.
a. It is problematic because its name is idiomatic. It literally means “girt about at the loins.”
b. Sometimes animals are named according to what they look like.
c. That is evidently the case here.
d. The KJV translates the term the best they could from the idiom as a greyhound. The greyhound is certainly a creature that is “girt about at the loins.” (slender waist)
e. “Girt at the loins” is also a way saying “ready to run.” The long robe is pulled up around the waist and girted with a belt so the man could run.
f. A greyhound is certainly a good example of an animal that is girt about the waist and prepared for running. They are known for running and speed.
g. Again, most Bible dictionaries do not list a particular animal. They simply give the Hebrew idiom. Some have suggested that it is an extinct animal.
h. The Hebrew idiom is translated in this passage variously as a greyhound, rooster, war horse, and even a zebra.
i. If I had to pick between those four, the greyhound certainly stands out as having a slender waist and is known for running.
j. However, I am just going to refer to this as some kind of a fast creature with a slender waist.
k. Whatever creature Agur had in mind, what we DO know is that it was stately, poised, and comely (beautiful) in the way it ran.
3. The third “thing” mentioned is the he goat.
a. Goats were very common creatures in Bible times. There is no question as to what this creature is.
b. And goats also walk about somewhat like a lion.
c. There is something stately about the way a goat walks—even on rocks. They are unbelievably sure-footed. They walk with their heads up… very dignified.
d. The male goat holds his head up high and has almost an arrogant look about him—like he owned the world.
e. Some years ago we had to get rid of a pet goat named Alfalfa. We gave him to a farmer and assured the farmer that he was gentle and easy to get along with. He never once bit or butted us. But when the farmer took our goat and put him in a large pen with a huge pig, within seconds, the goat butted the pig and knocked him over. He just wanted the pig and any other creature there to know that the king of the pen had arrived. He made it clear in the first few seconds in the pen that he was in charge and tolerated no rivals.
“A king, against whom there is no rising up.” (vs. 31b)
1. The fourth and final creature mentioned is not an animal but a human being, a royal human being, a king.
2. In a sense, Kings walk about like a lion.
3. They too walk with poise—like they owned the world. There is often an air about them. They sometimes have a look of dignity about them. They have been groomed, polished, and thus walk with poise with their heads held up high.
4. Here Agur says that against a king, there is no rising up.
a. They walk about like a lion—and lions don’t turn away from anything.
b. The king walks about (often surrounded by body guards and even his royal army) and is therefore afraid of nothing.
c. Very often, in reality, deep down inside, kings lived in fear. There was much intrigue and murder in royal courts. There was always someone who wanted to kill the king and overthrow the monarchy.
d. But Agur is talking about outward appearance—the way the king walked.
e. They walked about in dignity, in courage, and put on a show of courage and strength.
f. That was part of their job – to give the people a sense of safety and security.
g. The king walked about like a lion and no one could rise up against him.
Application: Lessons from these four things:
1. In the animal kingdom as well as in human affairs, there is order.
a. In the animal kingdom, some animals are small and feeble. However, they may be extremely wise.
b. There are creatures that are “over” the feeble animals.
c. They have much greater power and strength.
d. They are in a superior position. The lion is certainly superior to the ant and the coney.
e. This was by Divine design. God created His world this way. In the animal kingdom you might call it a pecking order.
2. The same is true in human affairs—there is order.
a. Kings and senators and governors are “over” the “little” people.
b. That doesn’t mean that the “common people” are not wise.
c. They may be exceedingly wise. But in God’s order, they are beneath others. But that does not mean inferior—just different. Different does not mean inferior. Women are different from men—but not inferior. There is a difference in God’s order for the home too… the husband is the head.
d. Kings and wealthy people are big and powerful—like lions.
e. Many of the common people are small and relatively weak—like ants.
f. And in the world, God has ordained that we (the common people) submit to those who are over us.
• Rom. 13:1 – Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…
• Submission is required by God not because the common people are inferior. Rather, it is to maintain order. There is order in God’s universe.
• Submission to leaders does not mean that those in high positions are necessarily wise and qualified. In fact, Daniel tells us that God sometimes raised up the basest of men to be in rulership positions.
g. We all have our lot in life. God wants us to accept it… submit to it… and be content in whatever state we find ourselves.
h. That is true in the home, in the local church, in our career, and in relationship to our government. There is a built in order in every realm of life.
3. The common man (like the ant) may not have the strength of a lion, but if he uses the talents he does have, (plans ahead; works diligently) then he can live very well. He may be small but is exceedingly wise.
4. Spiders live in the king’s castle.
5. Sometimes the “little people” live as well as the king.
6. We might not have the physical strength of a lion or the political strength of a king, but if we submit to God’s will for our lives, and do our best in whatever state we find ourselves, God will see to it that we BLOOM wherever we are planted and bring forth good fruit for God’s glory.
7. You don’t have to be a lion or a king. It’s not God’s will for everyone to be a leader or a ruler. Not everyone is in a position of strength and power.
8. It’s not God’s will for everyone to be the same.
a. There are differences.
b. How boring if we were all the same.
c. Not everyone is born with the same IQ. Not everyone is born in the same social standing. Not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Not everyone is born physically strong.
d. We shouldn’t complain about the differences and cry, “That’s not fair.”
e. In the natural world, some are lions and some are ants. Some are he goats and some are conies. They are all unique—and they don’t complain.
f. In the world of mankind, some are strong and powerful; some are weak and seemingly insignificant.
g. But there is a place for each one… and each one in its place.
h. That’s God’s order and design. And when we learn to accept our lot in life… and learn to submit to what God has ordained for us… and how God has created us… and get busy like an ant doing our best—we can all glorify God just as we are.
9. One other note: the lion, the greyhound, the he-goat, and the king all walk in a stately manner… with poise, dignity, and courage.
a. We too, as part of a royal priesthood, should walk in this world with poise, dignity, and courage.
b. Our attitude should be: I will not fear what man can do to me.
c. We can have the courage of a lion too.
d. Psalm 46:1-2 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
e. Prov. 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
f. There should be something comely and beautiful about the “walk” of a believer. Is that true of us?