What does Proverbs 30:28 mean?
ESV: the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings ' palaces.
NIV: a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.
NASB: The lizard you may grasp with the hands, Yet it is in kings’ palaces.
CSB: a lizard can be caught in your hands, yet it lives in kings’ palaces.
NLT: Lizards — they are easy to catch, but they are found even in kings’ palaces.
KJV: The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.
NKJV: The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces.
Verse Commentary:
Here, Agur (Proverbs 30:1) uses a Hebrew word derived from the root semāmit, which has some connection to the idea of "desolation." That, in turn, might be a reference to the wilderness or to something like poisoning. Some translators have rendered the word as "spider," but most indicate it as some kind of lizard. This is the last of four examples showing that small, insignificant things can accomplish amazing feats. Tiny ants can gather food. Hyraxes can live in cliffs and rocks. Locusts swarm and conquer like organized armies.

Semi-tropical climates around the world are filled with examples of small reptiles who manage to get into homes despite efforts to keep them out. The lizard noted here seems to be small, possibly like a gecko. As it happens, such lizards are excellent climbers, finding their way into almost any open space. A person would be hard-pressed to sneak into a king's palace; the lizard does it with relative ease. This is especially ironic since they are not difficult to catch by hand. However, they can also harbor bacteria or fungus which easily infect a bite; while not literally "venomous," they might be thought of that way.

This demonstrates God's providential care of the animal kingdom as well as human beings. Human beings are frail and mortal, but God loves all human beings and gave His Son to provide for their salvation. It is wise to trust in God not only for salvation but also for our daily needs. Jesus taught us to put God and His kingdom first, promising, "and [life's essentials] will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). The apostle Paul promises, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Verse Context:
In Proverbs 30:15–31 Agur (Proverbs 30:1) gives several numerical observations. He lists four things which never lead to satisfaction, only increased desire. Another four ideas are said to be "wonderful," here meant in the sense of being hard to grasp. Next are four examples of the dangers of putting people in sudden positions of power. Then, four seemingly humble animals who achieve great tasks. The last is a series of examples showing the "stately" nature of confidence.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains the teachings of Agur, who is only known through this passage. Humility and a sense of one's own limitations are key themes in this section. Agur prays for God's providence and warns about the sins of arrogance, greed, and rebelliousness. He marvels at how the ungodly can sin without care, not realizing their fate. He then notes the way some insignificant animals accomplish great things and comments on the effects of confidence. The chapter ends with a reminder that stirring up anger leads to trouble.
Chapter Context:
This chapter falls between a collection of Solomon's wise sayings (Proverbs 25—29) and King Lemuel's proverbs (Proverbs 31). Chapter 30 contains the wise sayings of Agur, who is otherwise unknown. He may have been the son of Jakeh. His teachings are called an oracle: a weighty message from God. Humility and warnings about arrogance are recurring themes in this chapter.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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