What does Proverbs 30:33 mean?
ESV: For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.
NIV: For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."
NASB: For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose produces blood; So the churning of anger produces strife.
CSB: For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife.
NLT: As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.
KJV: Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
NKJV: For as the churning of milk produces butter, And wringing the nose produces blood, So the forcing of wrath produces strife.
Verse Commentary:
Agur's last teaching (Proverbs 30:1) in this passage speaks about the expected outcomes of certain actions. Whether one wants that result is irrelevant. Each of the three components of this teaching use the same Hebrew word: miyts. This refers to forceful handling: as one would "churn" milk or "twist" someone's nose or "agitate" a person's anger. Modern readers also miss a subtle wordplay: the Hebrew word for "anger" is a reference to flaring nostrils, so it begins with the syllable used for the word "nose."

Much of the book of Proverbs warns about the consequences of natural cause-and-effect (Proverbs 8:33–36; 10:16; 14:24; 18:6; 19:23). Agur's warning is that stirring up anger leads to controversy and unhappiness. That's not merely one possible outcome—it's the natural result of those actions. If you thrash milk, it turns into butter. Whether you intended to make butter or not, that's what happens. Wrenching on a person's nose or punching them squarely in the face causes a nosebleed. Likewise, agitating other people's anger leads to conflict (Proverbs 10:12; 29:22). A person cannot provoke someone else and be shocked when they react angrily. For that reason, it's worth taking strong measure to avoid sin (Proverbs 30:32).

"Pressing" people into anger is usually driven by some level of arrogance. In his teaching, Agur has insisted that humility is far superior to slander and cursing (Proverbs 30:10–11). He rebukes those who use threatening words. He compares their words to the use of swords and knives (Proverbs 30:14). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul decries uncontrolled anger (Colossians 3:8), and associates it with a pre-salvation, unconverted way of life (Colossians 3:9). Writing to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of love's patience (1 Corinthians 13:4). He points out further that love "does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful" (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 30:32–33 completes Agur's contribution. He warns the person who realizes they are speaking foolishly to stop—even if that means clamping a hand over their own mouth. Such things naturally lead to disruption and disaster. This is as natural and as certain as churning milk makes butter and striking a person's nose draws blood.
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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