Things that perturb the Earth

Old Testament: Pro 30.21–23

To read the Bible in a year, read Proverbs 30–31 on September 16, In the year of our Lord Christ 2022

By Don Ruhl 

Some things are just out of place, and those things trouble the earth. The Book of Proverbs uses a literary device to get us to see a truth that the writer wanted to emphasize. While we might use bold type or italics, those methods of emphasis were not available to the ancient writers. One of the devices they used was this one. First, note the method, then we will talk about the content: 

For three things the earth is perturbed,
Yes, for four it cannot bear up:
For a servant when he reigns,
A fool when he is filled with food,
A hateful woman when she is married,
And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.

– Proverbs 30.21–23 

First, the writer, Agur (v 1), announced that three things perturb the earth. We want to know what those three things are. Then he added that there are four that the earth cannot bear up. He added a fourth item. Now we want to know what that fourth item is. We will see what he means with the first three and agree with him, then he reveals the fourth. 

  • It bothers the earth when a servant reigns because he is a servant. 
  • It bothers the earth when a fool has enough food because food comes from wisdom. 
  • It bothers the earth when a hateful woman is married because marriage is about love. 

Then he revealed number four. It bothers the earth when a maidservant succeeds her mistress because the mistress is the head of the house. It happens this way sometimes, nevertheless, it still troubles the earth when it does because it is not the natural order of things. 

He did not argue that these things are wrong, just that they do not seem fitting to the earth. 


  • What upside down things bother you? 
  • What do you think when a fool has luxury? 

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