Do you remember the first time you hid your sin? Adam and Eve first tried in the garden, and we’ve been grasping for fig leaves ever since. Knowing I was born with instincts to hide, my mother chose Numbers 32:23b as the first verse I memorized, “… be sure your sin will find you out.” That truth prevented me from grabbing fig leaves out of my closet more often than I did.
Agur knew what my mom knew: we all have a sin nature and the instinct to hide it.
In Proverbs 30:18-20 Agur presents truth for everyday life that makes sense to young and old. This man mines truth out of daily things like churning butter (v.33) and nose bleeds (v.33). A closer look out of our fig leaf coverings reveals a truth in his riddle not to be ignored. He begins by admitting three things that are too wonderful, even “four I do not understand” (v.18).
“…the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin” (v.19).
Like analogies on the SAT test, these four natural things share something in common. An eagle’s flight in the sky leaves no trace. A snake moving across a rock leaves no trace. A ship sailing on the sea leaves no trace. A man’s relationship with a woman leaves no visible trace. All four conceal evidence that they ever happened.
Like most riddles, a clue is found (verse 20): “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and say, ‘I have done no wrong.’” We all have a sin nature and the instinct to hide it.
Sin may be easy to conceal when an adulteress cleans up, conceals evidence, and nonchalantly claims innocence, but it doesn’t change the truth. The eagle has flown. The snake has slithered. The ship has sailed. The man has loved. The adulterers have offended. We may try to hide the evidence; we may try to hide our shame, but we can be sure our sin will find us out.
Adultery has many appearances. Perhaps Agur used the eagle, snake, ship, and man, so we wouldn’t fall into the trap of seeing only a beautiful seductress dressed in veils, inviting men to her lair. His riddle leaves me asking:
- “How do I commit adultery against God by loving other things and keeping passions ‘secret’ while claiming to be a lover of God?
- Does my public image reflect my private heart?
- Am I committing spiritual adultery against my Love, then wiping my hands, covering my heart, and presenting false innocence to those around me?”
Expose any wicked ways in me. Leave a trail behind me that leads me to confession and real cleansing. Thwart attempts I make at concealing my sin, and help me to be wholly Yours.