O God, I beg two favors from you before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. — Proverbs 30:7-8
As late as the 19th century, leeches were used by physicians in the treatment of a variety of ailments. The green and brown worms were attached to the patient, and the sucker at each end of the leech’s anatomy went to work. The leech’s saliva contains an anticoagulant to stop the blood clotting, an anesthetic so the patient (victim!) feels no discomfort, and a substance which dilates the vessels to facilitate the blood flow. Leeches are highly sophisticated suckers!
Dissatisfaction is a leech. Agur, a writer of proverbs, said, “The leech has two suckers that cry out, ‘More, more!’ There are three other things—no, four!—that are never satisfied: the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire” (Proverbs 30:15-16).
The person who is never satisfied, who cries out continually for “more, more” is probably anesthetized to the fact that, because he concentrates on what he doesn’t have, he is incapable of enjoying what he does have. And all the time, joy, delight, contentment, and thanksgiving flow freely away from his thoughts, leaving him depleted and spiritually anemic.
The picture of the leech is sufficient to portray the attitudes and condition of the dissatisfied man. But the further analogies of grave, barren womb, thirsty desert, and blazing fire serve to underline his serious condition. Not only does his dissatisfied soul find no satisfaction, but his dissatisfaction creates further dissatisfaction and he sinks into the grave of deadened delight while the fires of insatiable longings consume him. His life becomes barren like a desert, and the inner longings of his soul cry out unheeded, unanswered, and unmet. So what can be done about it?
Agur prayed a mature prayer, which should be echoed by every person concerning his financial status and spiritual condition: “O God, I beg two favors from you before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ and if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (30:7-9).
The poor man, who, understandably, is not satisfied with his poverty, may be tempted to steal in order to have enough to survive. His dissatisfaction can lead him into an endless cycle of trouble. So Agur wisely prays to be delivered from poverty. But the pathologies of abundance need to be addressed as well. For abundance and affluence not only create a desire for more, but also a dangerous tendency to self-sufficiency. For the man who has everything—even if he wants more—may decide he doesn’t need God. So Agur prays to be delivered from abundance, and asks for just enough to satisfy his needs (30:8).
The leeches of dissatisfaction will drain you—but the vitamins of contentment will sustain you.
For further study: Proverbs 30:1-16
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.