WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?

Proverbs 30:18-20 (CSB)

It doesn’t make sense… no matter how often or expressively you try to explain the pitfalls, kids are going to try it out anyway… “They’ll learn” you tell yourself, but you wish they would just take your word for it, and not have to get that wisdom the hard way. Wishes like these don’t often come true though, so you’re left wondering, “what’s wrong with them?” Agur was a man who can relate, and he gave his two cents in the book of Proverbs.

In the middle of a chapter full of frustration about a younger generation, he helps us relate with his confusion. In verses 18-19, he speaks of four things he can’t figure out, though notably, he only calls three of them “wonderful.” If you’ve ever seen an eagle flying, and wondered how it just floats sometimes, or marveled at how a snake can move along a smooth surface like rock without any legs, you can join in Agur’s moment. If you’ve ever wondered how ships can sail in a certain direction, riding on waves without sinking, and using wind power, even if it isn’t coming from directly behind, you can feel Agur’s amazement. Even with modern science in our back pocket, we still struggle to answer some of these questions about forces like the wind.

To these mysteries, Agur adds the interaction between a man and a virgin. This interaction he observes is most likely not good. Within the context of the generation he has been speaking about, we expect a young girl, and a debonaire young man, playing the flirting game, more than willing to make some mistakes in the name of “love.” Agur wants to call out to the girl “Trust Me! He only wants one thing! This isn’t what lasting love is made of.” He want to tell the young man “Stop playing these games. Be better than this. Be noble.” But they won’t listen. They’ve heard it before. They want to make a mistake… Why?... Who knows… But like the wind in a sail, foolish hearts drive them forward.

Much like any adult talking about the foolishness of the younger generation, Agur has probably forgotten that he too once chose foolishness and disregarded the wisdom of his elders. The challenge for Agur – and for us – is to look inside and consider this: what wisdom are we still missing, or choosing to learn the hard way? What have we still failed to hear from those that have gone before? Are we compelled by those same invisible forces of pride, ignorance and foolishness, or are we able to humble ourselves and listen, so that we can avoid the pitfalls that still lay ahead of us? Are those who have gone before us looking back at our lives and wondering, “What is wrong with them?”

by Ben Urban

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