Neither Poverty nor Riches
1. Verses 8-9 are part of a prayer request that began in verse 7.
2. In this section the author makes two requests.
a. The first request was that God would remove vanity (falsehood) and lies from him. Evidently the author had a problem in this area.
b. The second request we are going to consider tonight: that God would keep him from temptations associated with material goods.
3. These were extremely urgent and earnest pleas.
a. His earnestness is seen in the words, “Deny me not!”
b. It is also seen in the words, “Before I die.”
c. This seems to imply that the two requests he made reflected his two most spiritually damaging besetting sins.
d. It sounds like the plea of a man who desperately wants to experience victory over these sins before he dies.
e. He doesn’t want to go to the grave with these sins as his slave master.
f. He did not want to die with lies and falsehood as his master. Nor did he want to die with material temptations as his master.
What He Didn’t Want: Poverty or Riches
1. Agur pleas that God would not give him poverty.
a. Nobody wants to be poor. Nobody would choose to have no money to pay the bills or buy life’s necessities.
b. When you get behind financially, it can become an obsession. It’s all you can think about. It dominates your mind and heart—and that is not good spiritually.
c. Agur is no different than anyone else. He does not want to be poor and asks God to prevent that from happening.
2. This request is made with the assumption that Agur is doing his part.
a. He is not asking God to provide for him as he sits on the couch and eats snacks all day long.
b. He is asking God to provide for him AS he is diligent in his work.
c. Prov. 6:6-11 – His request assumes that he was not being lazy; for then he had no right to ask God for help. God already stated the outcome of laziness, “so shall thy poverty come.” He shouldn’t expect anything other than poverty.
d. Prov. 23:21 – His request also assumes that he is not wasting his money on excess: drinking and gluttony. That man should expect poverty. (eating, drinking, shopping, spending lavishly)
e. Prov. 28:19 – His request also assumes that he is not following vanity—empty, foolish people or empty, foolish pursuits instead of working every day. (playing video games; hanging out downtown or at the pool hall; etc.)
3. But even when a man IS doing his part (willing to work; diligently looking for work; willing to take whatever work he can get)… poverty can still come his way.
a. Farmers are dependent upon the weather for their crops.
b. Fishermen are dependent upon the amount of fish in the sea.
c. Businessmen are dependent upon the overall economy.
d. Kings are dependent upon the economy and world events—relationships with other nations.
e. And everyone’s welfare is affected by natural disasters.
f. Hence, praying is a very good idea—for God is sovereign over all of these things that affect every one of us.
1. Everyone knows that poverty is a trial and a burden.
2. Agur was wise enough to understand that riches can also be a trial and a burden—and a temptation.
3. Though he did not have a copy of I Timothy, he did seem to understand an important truth found in I Tim. 6:9-11a: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11But thou, O man of God, flee these things…”
4. There have been many stories of individuals who have won the lottery and become instantly wealthy. They assumed that all their troubles were over… but discovered a Pandora’s Box of troubles they never imagined before!
5. Agur understood the pitfalls of poverty and prayed for God to deliver him from them. He also understood the pitfalls of riches and asked God to deliver him from that as well.
6. This is an exceptionally wise prayer request.
a. It speaks of a man who is aware of his own weakness… the frailty of the flesh to earthly temptations.
b. It speaks of a man who really knows what is best for him spiritually and seeks after it.
c. It speaks of a man who is concerned with his relationship to God and would rather have God as his treasure than any earthly treasure.
d. It speaks of a man who has probably observed the evil affect that money has had on others and doesn’t want it for himself.
7. All of us would certainly pray for God to deliver us from poverty… but would we pray for God to deliver us from riches?
a. The tendency in us all is to assume that we could handle that kind of a trial!
b. Maybe it would cause others to go astray, but not me… I can handle it. It won’t affect me.
c. Those are famous last words of many a man who has pierced himself through with many sorrows because of his desire for riches.
What He Did Want: Food Convenient for Me
1. Agur prayed for “food convenient.”
a. Convenient defined: An appointment; a measure; a share; a portion; an allotment; a quota.
b. The idea behind Agur’s request was that he wanted God to appoint him just what he needed.
c. He didn’t want poverty; nor did he want riches.
d. He wanted “just enough.”
e. This was a prayer for God’s providential allotment. God “assigns” such things as He deems best.
2. Ex. 16:15, 18, 35 – God provided an “allotment” of food for the Israelites when they left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness.
a. They got only what they needed each day.
b. And God provided it every day.
c. They couldn’t hoard it—for it would melt or be covered with maggots.
d. Each person was allotted a portion each day.
3. Matt. 6:11 – Jesus taught His Jewish disciples to pray along these lines: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
a. Daily implies an allotment… a daily allotment.
b. Nothing is hoarded or stockpiled.
c. Today’s needs are met and that should be enough.
4. In today’s world, this would be the equivalent of living “paycheck to paycheck” and being happy to do so.
a. Most of us live that way, but how many of us would pray for that to continue?
b. Isn’t it true that what we really wish is to have an abundance?
c. Having “just enough” doesn’t seem to satisfy today.
d. I Tim. 6:6-8 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
• We need to learn to be content with food—even if there is no gravy.
• We need to learn to be content with raiment—even without the ornaments and extras.
e. Phil. 4:11-13 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
f. This is the crying need for all of us – to LEARN to be content.
5. Prov. 15:16 – “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” This is a great lesson to learn: that little is better. Not too little; not too much; but a little—for today. Agur seemed to understand this.