Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
He that hath neither too little nor too much must needs have a competency, or food convenient for him. It is not a prayer absolutely against riches, or absolutely against poverty. It is a prayer of choice, or a comparative prayer; as if he had said, "Rather than either riches or poverty, give me the mean between both."
I. THE THING PRAYED FOR. Begin with the affirmative. If we know the mean which Agur chooseth, we shall soon guess what he understands by riches and poverty, the extremes which he refuseth. Competent food is a competent maintenance. Competency is the mean between want and superfluity. It is the same as the prayer Christ taught us to pray, "Give us our daily bread." A competency is twofold, either in regard of nature or of a man's condition. That may not be sufficient for one man's condition which is sufficient for another's. It is not unlawful to have and enjoy riches in abundance, but it is unlawful to covet and seek after them. Desire no more of such things than thou canst lawfully ask God in prayer. A competency, or middle estate between want and superfluity, is in choice to be preferred as the best and happiest condition. Agur's choice was a wise man's choice.
II. THE REASON OF THE REQUEST. The rule of our desires and endeavours in the getting and enjoying of these outward things ought to be our spiritual welfare, and the bettering of us to God-ward. Men who abound in wealth and superfluity are much subject to the malady of impiety and irreligion. Consider the wickedness of men's nature, which abuseth the abundance of God's blessings to dishonour Him that gave them. Consider also the unreasonable folly of men so greedily to long for and pursue after that which so much endangereth their welfare and happiness. A lesson of caution to those who are rich, to keep a continual watch over themselves, that they forget not God in their abundance. Poverty and want of things needful hath her dangers and evils, as well as riches and abundance. Stealing, not merely by force and violence, but also by fraud, cozenage, or detention of another's due. Perjury, or false swearing readily follows on fraud. The one is likely to bring on the other. We must take care to avoid the occasion of such sin, as well as the sin itself.
(Joseph Mede, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: