Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
This prayer may justly be considered as ejaculatory. It consists of two petitions, the one relating to spiritual blessings, the other to temporal blessings.
I. "REMOVE FROM ME VANITY AND LIES." The words show Agur's concern to be delivered from everything like ostentation or self-confidence, and from the desire to utter as true things which he might not fully comprehend, with the view of being admired and applauded for his wisdom and penetration. The prayer reaches to the removal of the natural atheism and impiety of the human heart of every false notion of God, and of every imaginary ground of hope on which the unrenewed mind is apt to depend.
II. "GIVE ME NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES." There is not a wise man acquainted with the frailties of human nature, or with the temptations incident to a condition either of peculiar difficulty or prosperity, who, if he were to express any wish concerning it at all, would not cordially join with Agur. To perceive this to be the case, consider —
1. The evils incident to a state of poverty. The incapacity of discharging necessary obligations is almost enough to mar the flight of the boldest faith, and deaden the efforts of the strongest devotion. And how often do the devices of injustice start up in the minds of the poor! In all their transactions they are ever in hazard of grasping at what is not their own, of practising falsehood, dissimulation, and even perjury.
2. The evils incident to a state of affluence. By riches we understand that surplus of wealth or property which any one enjoys above what is absolutely necessary to procure those conveniences and comforts which are suited to the condition wherein he is placed. Such riches may be a blessing, and give power to do good; but alas! they almost uniformly tend to corrupt the heart, to undermine those sentiments of dependence on God which are so becoming to the character of man, and to foment a spirit of rebellion against the Divine authority. They engender selfishness, pride, arrogance, and unbearable insolence towards others.
III. BY MEANS OF A MIDDLE STATE WE ARE IN GREAT MEASURE EXEMPTED FROM THE EVILS OF BOTH THESE STATES. Such a man has sufficient to feed, end nourish, and clothe himself and those who are dependent on him. His dependence on God is neither weakened by his having too much of the world, nor his affection withdrawn from Him by having too little. Such a man is peculiarly favourable to the dispositions he should feel, and the duties he should perform towards those that are around him. Remember that God alone has the disposal of your lot. Of this you may be assured, it is the one which He knows to be best fitted for you.
(James Somerville, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: