Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Did you hear about the husband and wife who went to a fertility clinic, gave DNA samples, and discovered that they are fraternal twins?
Websites around the world covered their remarkable story. Their biological parents were killed in a car crash when they were infants, and they were eventually adopted out to separate families. Due to a filing error, neither family was told that their adopted child had a twin. The couple met during college and eventually married. Now they are considering the future of their relationship.
Here’s the real news: everything you just read is fake.
A news outlet calling itself the Mississippi Herald told the story. It turns out to be part of a network of fake local news sites that recently began generating hoaxes. At a time when media are supposed to be on the lookout for fake news, this completely false story still ended up on major news websites.
I’ve been reading through Proverbs lately and discovered the only prayer in this amazing book. A man named “Agur son of Jakeh,” otherwise unknown to Scripture or history, was the author of Proverbs 30. In verse 5 he testified that “every word of God proves true.” In response to this fact, he offered his prayer two verses later: “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” (vv. 7–9).
Agur recognized that both poverty and riches can tempt us into materialism and away from dependence on God, an insight that is obviously relevant in our consumer culture. But the part of his prayer that most impresses me today is his plea for God to “remove far from me falsehood and lying.” “Falsehood” translates an extremely negative Hebrew term that describes deceit, fraudulence, wickedness, and destruction. “Lying” refers to the verbal means by which “falsehood” is conveyed.
I see two important lessons here for us.
One: We cannot determine falsehood without God’s help.
Agur was wise enough to be a contributor to one of the wisest books in all of literature, but even he needed to pray for God to remove falsehood and lying from him. Otherwise, he might not detect their presence and could believe what he should reject.
It is the same for us. Satan is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44) who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is far better at deceiving us than we are at recognizing his deception. We need God’s wisdom in refusing his lies.
Two: We cannot speak the truth without God’s help.
Agur wanted to avoid deception, but he also wanted to avoid deceiving others. He prayed for divine assistance because that was the only way he could consistently speak the truth.
It is the same for us. Scripture says of humans, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive” (Romans 3:13). We can consistently speak the truth only with the help of the One who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
“Remove from me falsehood and lying.” Will you make Agur’s prayer yours today?