7 "Two things I ask of you, O 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.
At first glance, we might tend to gloss over this prayer and think it has a flowery sweetness of many of the pew prayers we so easily utter in Church on a Sunday. “Gee Lord, it really hurts me when I am lied to, so please keep falsehood and lies far from me. And, since the two things common to all people are death and taxes (and I usually pay all of my taxes), I would really appreciate it someday – (no rush, now) – if you would help me (before I finally die) become the kind of person you would like me to be and help me ‘clean up my act’ so that I don’t tell lies either....and oh by the way, thanks for the deal I got on the new snow shovel the other day – what a bargain!”
No, this prayer has something about it that can reach out and take the reader by the throat! The proverbs written in chapter 30 are ascribed to a person named Agur (son of Jakeh). While I believe that the prayer is written in an instructional way, I think when the prayer was originally prayed, it might have been prayed by a person who was very desperate. This might have been Agur (many years earlier) or a close friend of his. I think the person might have been so saturated in stealing and lying about it that they had reached a point where they hardly knew the meaning of truth. I think that they might have received revelation from the Lord that he was going to hold them accountable for their actions, and that death was very near! But the clincher – I think that the person realized that it was beyond their ability to stop their behavior. They realized they needed divine intervention, or they were ‘dead meat’! So, they prayed this prayer and got the help they needed!
Observation 1: The person who first prayed this prayer, asked the Lord “to keep falsehood and lies far from them” an interesting thing to pray for an action that we are normally supposed to be able to control. An element, I think, that should be included for all prayers of relief from addictive behavior.
Observation 2: I suspect that while this person’s original entry into the practice of stealing might have been tied to a need OR WANT that was NOT met. Like, “Lord, you are my shepherd, but I still have some wants and needs that have not been met?!?” (If this is you, read the book of James). I suspect that it slipped quickly into a false means of self actualization or fulfillment (addiction) that spun quickly out of control. I suspect this person was crafty and very good at what they did, and found a quirky sense of fulfillment in it.
Observation 3: In their dialogues with God about this desperate situation, they found the wisdom to ask the right thing – that led to their deliverance. “Please don’t give me too much, and please don’t give me too little – but PLEASE meet my need – and grant me gracious contentment in the process!!!!!!!!!!”
The rest is history.
Lord, please free us all from our quirky (and often sinful) addictions through your wisdom and grace and powerful deliverance – ‘keep this from me’! And give us the strength, conviction and power to do our part!
Two links that helped inspire this writing (be prepared, they are somewhat gut wrenching) but eloquently done: ABC’s “What would you do? Stealing from the Blind!”