do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
When I was little (chronologically, not physically), I was fascinated by the grandfather's clock in the hallway of my grandparents' home. "Don't touch!" was often repeated to me as I longingly gazed at it. The pendulum swinging back and forth was absolutely mesmerizing.
We can experience pendulum swings in life, too, can't we? They are not nearly so pleasant as those of my childhood, but it appears they happen to everyone. Our writer here is asking God to give him "just enough."
He's afraid that if he has too little; if his bills outstrip his income; if he is below the poverty line, as politicians like to say, that he will find it far too easy to justify his sin. He may cheat and steal, just to fill the bellies of his family. He may fall into other sins as well, and all of these will serve to dishonor the name of his Lord.
On the other hand, if he has wealth, it may be too easy to forget where the blessings came from. He fears the apathy and the nonchalance of "well, I have all these things -- why do I need God?" He knows the human soul and the tendency to think that somehow we deserve all of these things, or that they are ours simply because of us -- not the holy God Who gave them to us.
So Agur is reaching out and trying to stop the pendulum right in the middle . . . not all the way on one side, where the wealth and riches are, but not all the way on the other side, either. That is where the poverty and want are. He is hoping to be right in the middle.
But you know, if we always are in the middle, we'll never, ever grow! It takes times of poverty to test us and allow us to grow in faith. And it takes times of blessing to see if we can respond in wisdom to the wealth God gives us.
Psalm 66:10 For you, oh God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried, refined, and purified.Yes, "just enough" is a good place to be, but when life's pendulum swings to one extreme or the other, let's try to accept the testing and ask for His wisdom to handle it --- because we know it may swing the other way soon!
Hebrews 2:18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
James 1:3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
II Corinthians 8:2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.