24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.Proverbs 30:24-28
Proverbs 30 is attributed to Agur, son of Jakeh. This chapter is the only mention of him in the Bible. He claims to be a person of below average intelligence and understanding (vv. 2, 3). However, I would say he was a pretty wise person to have assembled these sayings at the leading of the Holy Spirit.
This chapter looks a bit different than most of the book in that he takes several verses to talk about a few different topics. These longer topics are more like chapters one through nine.
Towards the end of the chapter, Agur gives several groups of “four things.” These are: four things that are never satisfied (vv. 15-17), four things that seem too wonderful for the writer to comprehend (vv. 18-20), four things that don’t make sense (vv. 21-23), four things that are exceedingly wise (vv. 24-28), and four things that are proud (vv. 29-31).
We will just look at the “four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.”
He says of ants that they are not strong, yet they prepare for the future. I’m sure there are ants in most habitable places of the world. I know they certainly like hanging around our house every place we’ve lived. While they are considered a pest, I have been fascinated by ants since I was a kid.
I grew up in west Texas where it was fairly dry most of the time. We didn’t have luscious grass lawn. Therefore, it was easy to see the red ants and black ants crawling around on the grey-brown dirt. These weren’t your runty little ants that I see most places. Ours were so big that even a grandpa without his glasses could see these.
Though I would get bitten occasionally, I still enjoyed playing with them by making “dams” in their “rivers.” That meant putting sticks and rocks in their little paths that they made between their homes and their food source. When they left their homes, they were always walking, walking, walking. Always gathering food for that time of year when they seemed to go dormant.
Small, yet wise enough to work and prepare for the future.
These are animals that I’m not familiar with from my childhood, but they are mammals more commonly known today as a hyrax. They are common in much of Africa and the Middle East.
Agur says they are feeble, but are wise enough to make their homes in a protected area. They live among the rocks where they can be protected from common predators.
They practice the lessons learned from Proverbs 27:22 in being prepared for the evil that comes their way. Of course they didn’t read the Bible to learn that, but God put that instinct into them and then pointed us to them to help us learn to be wise in our preparation for the dangers that come up in life.
Another pest we had growing up was what we called locusts, but would more appropriately be called cicadas. Cicadas are not the type of animal talked about here. The Bible is referring to what is more commonly known as grasshoppers.
Doing a little research on these little creatures, I learned that they are called grasshoppers until they form swarms. At that point they are called locusts. They can devastate crops and whole economies. As I write this, the world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there are two recent gigantic locust swarms that are destroying much of the crop production in east Africa today. The plague of locusts will probably be as deadly for the people in Africa as the pandemic will be.
Locusts have no leader, yet they are as destructive and deadly as many armies because of their strength in numbers.
Spiders can be found everywhere: clean houses, dirty houses, palaces and even barns with pigs named Wilbur. They are industrious and constantly working.
Some spiders build a new house each evening for catching insects just to tear them down the next morning and build them again that evening. Others maintain a web for months.
No matter how often their web gets torn down, they will build it again. They work their way into the position they hold in the king’s palace.
Agur tells us about ants that are careful planners, conies who seek safety from the predators around them, locusts that find safety and strength in numbers and the humble spider who industriously works their way into the palace. Each has a lesson for us today.