Proverbs 30:18

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

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Meditate wisely on four mysteries. Beyond human comprehension, they cause the mind to consider the Creator responsible for their unique properties. Beyond man’s ability to fully grasp or to duplicate, they humble the mind to admit the great need for wisdom.

The inspired prophet Agur used sets of four things to teach Ithiel and Ucal (Pr 30:1). God created these things with great wisdom, as He did the entire universe (Pr 8:22-31). Man cannot fully explain them, let alone duplicate them, so he should humbly admire them.

Should a teacher admit ignorance? Agur did earlier (Pr 30:2-4), and he did again here. If the purpose is to glorify God’s wisdom or cause others to muse, it is a good technique of instruction. Here, Agur’s goal is to exalt these four things for their mysterious properties.

What is the lesson? It is the fourth wonderful thing – the way of a man with a maid. The other three things, wonders of nature, lead toward the fourth. The glory and power of young love between a man and the wife of his youth is incomparably precious. For more details of that fourth thing and its practical application, see the notes on Proverbs 30:19.

The way of an eagle in the air is gloriously mysterious. Floating and gliding on thermal updrafts, the eagle can soar and circle majestically with hardly a movement of its 7-foot wing span. Diving toward earth to catch unsuspecting prey in the air, on the land, or in the water, it can exceed 100 mph! Eagle courtship includes spectacular aerial displays in which the birds grasp each other’s feet high in the air and plummet toward the earth, cartwheeling with their wings and legs outstretched. Who can grasp its wise design?

The way of a serpent upon a rock is likewise amazing. The snake has no arms, legs, or feet. Slithering and twisting through grass or sand is one thing, still quite a sight to consider, but how about on a smooth rock? Where does it find any leverage? How can it move forward and upward on the slippery surface without hands or feet? Angry or frightened, it moves quickly and directly toward or away from an enemy. It uses no toeholds and leaves no tracks, yet it moves efficiently. Who can grasp its wise design?

The way of a ship in the midst of the sea is also remarkable. A sailing vessel has no propeller, oars, or other visible means of propulsion, yet it scoots along the water easily. Its huge size is directed by a very small helm and rudder. It leaves no path to follow behind its slight wake; it can handle most storms without capsizing; and it crosses large bodies of water without signposts or landmarks to its desired port. And it is the air in front of the sail that moves it, not the air behind the sail. Who can grasp its wise design?

The way of a man with a maid is wonderful and mysterious. A virgin girl – a maid – is protected well for 14-18 years. She can be happily content with chores, school, job, hobbies, nature, friends, and family. Love and sex barely disturb her. But consider the change when a man charms her! With attention, words, and promises, he lights a fiery response never seen before. A few embraces and kisses, and she is emotionally obsessed and physically willing to give him anything and everything. She will eagerly leave all to follow him, without fear, and in spite of any warnings. Who can grasp its wise design?

Admire the eagle; respect the snake; appreciate sailing; and consider emotional and sexual romance in a young marriage. God has made all things wonderful in their own time and place, but men have sought out ungodly inventions and abuses of them (Eccl 3:1-11; 7:29). Wisdom appreciates God’s wise design and uses it according to His will. There is no place for romantic or sexual seduction outside of intended or actual marriage.

A far greater wonder than these four things is God’s wisdom and power in redeeming His people from their sins by the substitutionary death of His virgin-born, only begotten Son (I Cor 1:17-25; Eph 1:3-14; Heb 10:1-14). The Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, accomplished much more for them than the first Adam had ruined by his sin (Rom 5:12-19; I Tim 2:15). Believe God’s record about His Son in the Bible and revel in its wonder.