7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord;
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.
If you had only two requests of the Lord, what would they be? Chances are slim that “give me neither poverty nor riches” would make many of our lists. Yet there is wisdom here, as the central concern of Agur is not his happiness but his character. Both requests have to do with temptation, the great deceiver of us all.
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me” may bring to mind “lead us not into temptation,” a well known part of the Lord’s prayer. Many believe there is nothing wrong with flirting with temptation, as long as you don’t sin. How many of us have fallen into that trap? Agur knows his own weaknesses, and does not wish to have them tested. You and I would be wise to have the same attitude. Is there a temptation in your life you ought to distance yourself from?
Perhaps the most widespread temptations in our world are centered around money. Having too little can be just as corrupting as having too much; both rich and poor tend to be preoccupied with their finances. Those who have too much are tempted to put their trust in their wealth, and forget their dependance on the Lord. Yet in times of suffering, what good is money? Those who have too little are subject to the temptation of envy, which “rots the bones.” Are you satisfied with what you have? If not, maybe the problem is within.