Proverbs 30:4

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

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Who can find wisdom? No man can! No man will! God must reveal wisdom to any man. Paul said, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Cor 2:11).

Rationalization or the scientific method is worthless for wisdom or truth. True knowledge and understanding are only by inspired revelation. Man knows nothing of importance without God revealing it to him. Do not trust men. Put all your trust in the LORD. Go to Him and His word for the hidden wisdom and mysteries of the universe (I Cor 2:6-10).

Proverbs 30 is an appendix to Solomon’s proverbs. Agur, a wise man, taught Ithiel and Ucal (Pr 30:1). His lessons are inspired wisdom, for they are called “the prophecy” (Pr 30:1; 31:1). He introduced his lessons by first confessing his great natural ignorance (Pr 30:2-3), then by proving man’s inability to find out God and wisdom (Pr 30:4), and finally by defining the absolute necessity and sufficiency of Scripture (Pr 30:5-6).

The seven rhetorical questions in this proverb prove no man can find out God or wisdom by human effort. The answer to each question is an obvious negative. No man has gone to heaven, or come back, or conquered the elements to learn the ways and wisdom of God. Agur forced Ithiel and Ucal to admit by force of reason there was no man. They could not name any man who had done such a thing, and they could not name his son.

Agur proceeded to teach that every inspired word of God is pure and necessary (Pr 30:5). Not a single word was to be deleted or degraded. Putting trust in God and His words was the surest defense against dangers in this world or the next. Furthermore, man’s words were not to be added, for this would corrupt God’s words, and He would be angry (Pr 30:6). If you do not have confidence in a word-perfect Bible, you are truly blind and lost.

The seven rhetorical questions are a device teaching man’s inability to discover the real truth and wisdom of the universe. Since knowledge and understanding are with God, what man has ascended up into heaven to learn them, or returned back to earth to teach them? No man! Having confessed his own ignorance (Pr 30:2-3), he used these questions to condemn all men as ignorant (Pr 30:4). Wisdom is beyond the reach of mortal men.

Consider three very similar questions. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom 11:33-36).

The seven questions are not simply answered with “God.” The first two questions are in the perfect tense, which precludes them from being a prophecy of Christ. Neither can they refer to God, for He fills heaven and earth (Jer 23:24). He had neither ascended nor descended, for He is altogether present in both places simultaneously. And what would His ascent or descent have to do with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? Nothing!

The first two questions are also connected by the coordinating conjunction “or,” which positively indicates a hypothetical alternative. Did God ascend? Or did He descend? Applying the questions to God creates confusion. The questioning is rather rhetorical about man. No man had gone to heaven to get wisdom, nor had any man come from heaven with it. Agur taught Ithiel and Ucal man’s great dependence on God for wisdom.

He proceeded further to humiliate man in the face of God’s glorious creation. Who, like God, has the wisdom and power to control and harness the wind in his fists? No man! God proved Job’s inferior wisdom and power by a consideration of the wind (Job 37:14-24). And David and Jeremiah used the same impossibility (Ps 135:5-7; Jer 10:13; 51:16).

Who, like God, has the wisdom and power to gather large amounts of water in the clouds? No man! God proved Job’s inferior wisdom and power by a consideration of the water in clouds (Job 36:24-33; 37:11-24; 38:33-37). And David and Jeremiah used the same impossibility to leave man short of wisdom (Ps 135:5-7; 147:7-8; Jer 10:13; 51:16).

Who, like God, has the wisdom and power to establish all the ends of earth, to lay the foundation and build upon it? No man! God proved Job’s inferior wisdom and power by these very considerations (Job 38:4-7). And Solomon reasoned about wisdom’s great value through God’s use of it to create the world and settle the mountains (Pr 8:25-26).

Is there any such man? No, not one! Agur pressed further. If there is such a man, what is his son’s name? If a man had ascended to heaven and found wisdom, then surely it would be with his son. They had to answer in the negative. There is neither man nor son that knows or understands these things. They are too high and wonderful for man (Ps 131:1).

The seven questions are not simply answered with “God.” The middle three questions are true of God, but that is not his argument. You can see above that the first two questions create a hypothetical alternative. The last two questions create an unanswerable dilemma. What is learned by supplying “God” and “Jesus”? Nothing! Agur taught there is no man or son that has the wisdom of the blessed God, Who created all things by understanding.

Man has no knowledge or wisdom of his own, and he cannot find out God’s knowledge or wisdom by himself (Is 8:20). Agur knew it to be true of himself and all men, so he convinced his students by these rhetorical questions. Wisdom is a matter of revelation: God must give it by inspiration (Deut 29:29). And Agur will conclude his introduction by identifying that perfect wisdom in the inspired words of God’s scriptures (Pr 30:5-6).

The wisdom of God is too high for man to reach (Job 11:5-12). Though he might look and search in many places, he will not find it by any natural means (Job 28:12-28). The wisdom of God is revealed supernaturally through inspiration, and then men have no need for trips to heaven or across the sea for it (Deut 30:11-14; Rom 10:6-8). No wonder David considered God’s word so very delightful and precious to him (Ps 19:7-11).

Those who see an allusion to eternal generation here have found only an illusion. Their desperate efforts to support Origen’s hallucination are again found wanting. God did not yet have a son, for the Word had not yet been made flesh (Luke 1:35; Jn 1:14). David and Isaiah knew God’s Son was future (Ps 89:19-37; Is 7:14; 9:6). As in the personification of wisdom (Pr 8:22-31), many seek mystical or spiritual allusions where there are none.

The rhetorical questions are nonsensical, if they are merely answered with “God.” God and His name of Jehovah were well known by all three men (Pr 30:5,9). Agur did not teach Ithiel and Ucal that God had created the wind, clouds, and earth. They already knew that. He taught them that no man had wisdom close to that of the Creator God. It is our privilege and duty to see a dark saying here (Pr 1:6), not childish questioning.

Since only God has the infinite wisdom implied by our proverb, prudent men will value and treasure every word of His inspired Scriptures (Pr 30:5-6; Matt 4:4). Since every word is pure, you cannot take any away (Pr 30:5). And you are told not to add your words (Pr 30:6). Do not take away from them nor add to them (Deut 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19). Hold fast to a Bible that is word-perfect and keep every precept in it (Ps 119:128).

No mere man can ascend up to heaven, nor descend from it, to obtain wisdom. But Jesus descended and then ascended to sit at God’s right hand (John 3:13; Eph 4:9). He made all things by His power; by Him all things consist; and He upholds all things by the word of His power (John 1:3; Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and He has been made wisdom for each of the elect (Col 2:3; I Cor 1:30-31).