Human beings disappoint, so we become wary and find it hard to trust. Politicians aren’t the only ones who fail to carry through with promises. Friends, colleagues, and family members also let us down.
For the latter groups, we need large doses of forgiveness and, sometimes, confrontation about their perfidy, in order to give them opportunity to change.
Looking inward, we discover we ourselves have also made promises that we couldn’t keep or that we decided to disregard.
So the following truth about God and his word provides us hope.
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
—Pro 30.5 ESV
This saying of King Agur appears in a section near the end of the book of Proverbs. Verses 1-9 emphasize that we “must acknowledge our inability to understand the ways of God before we can accept the revelation of God” (CBC).
We ourselves can’t figure God out. But he tells us who he is and what he is doing. “Word” in this verse is a term used only here in Proverbs and refers to the written revelation of God. The answer to our searchings, vv. 1-4, lies in the inspired Scriptures.
Because God’s self-disclosure is definitive and no human can supplement it, and because no one can improve upon it by speculation, this revelation must not be added to. So Agur hastens to say,
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar, v. 6.
Human reasoning darkens “knowledge of the Holy One” v. 3. Wisdom is also knowing what one does not know.
Behind the concept of God’s word proving true is a figure of speech which refers to the smelting process to remove impurities. The figure does not suggest that God’s word had impurities that had to be removed. On the contrary, it indicates the purity or flawlessness of his word. It is therefore totally trustworthy.
So much so that Agur uses another metaphor to refer to the speaking, revealing God. He is a shield, protection, safety to those who seek him for refuge. To those who know there is no room for misgiving, v. 5b, or improvement, v. 6, God’s word leads beyond the words to the Speaker in intimate security (Kidner).
CBC —Concise Bible Commentary, D.S. Dockery, gen. ed. Holman, 2010. Kidner—Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, by Derek Kidner. Tyndale OT Commentaries. IVP, 1964.