In the last class I took, we took a personality test called the Enneagram. At the end you found out what number of personality you were – I was a one with a wing of a nine! Now, I know this doesn’t mean much to you; I’m only mentioning it here because they also assigned a representative creature to each number. The number of the one’s is the “ant”! I was a little put out to discover that I was an ant until I read up on ants and I found out that was okay, it was probably pretty accurate for me.
So, what does this have to do with today’s reading? After reading the whole book of Proverbs, I’ve come to the conclusion that this whole book is about living wisely in this world. The Proverbs are clear concise instruction on a multitude of subjects that if followed, would do all of us well in living Christian in a hostile world; living moral in an immoral world.
In verse 24 of chapter 30, the writer points our attention to four small creatures and The Message refers to them as “the wisest of the wise”. I was thrilled to find that the very first one mentioned was the ant! The other three were the rock badger or marmot, the locust, and the spider or in some translations the lizard.
What is so compelling in these small, even insignificant creatures that they would be listed as the wisest of the wise? First of all, they are all small and extremely vulnerable because of it. I certainly wouldn’t have come up with this list if I had been asked! But with further research, I’ve come to understand what the writer was trying to convey in this text.
The ant – as frail as the ant is, vulnerable to being stepped on at any moment – the NKJ tells it like this “the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer. They have foresight, they plan ahead, they aren’t caught unaware. I’ve also learned this about the ant, they are capable of carrying many times their own weight! They are very organized and see to their community’s needs, each fulfilling its role for the better good. They send out scouts to locate and gather food and leave a scented trail for those who come behind. They are the ultimate teamwork creatures; one writer saying that the ants could rule the world! Yes, I’m proud to be an ant!
The marmot or rock badger, I learned, builds its home on the rocks. It protects its home from the elements and also natural enemies.
Whatever you think about the locust, they work together to strip a field like an army regiment! They are the ultimate at cooperation with others to see the job well done!
The spider or lizard according to your translation have the same characteristics. They are both vulnerable by themselves, easy to catch. But, they manage to dwell in the most beautiful places in the land.
I somehow think that if we were to pay attention to the things these small creatures paid attention to, we might also be considered the wisest of the wise! If we had foresight, planning for the future (eternity is coming) and positioning ourselves through fiscal discipline and good stewardship, we could be a blessing to those in need and take care of our families at the same time. If we built our homes on the “Rock”, we would protect it from the elements and also our enemy! If we worked well with others, we could see the Kingdom of God flourish and take territory and see the job Jesus left us with well done. We, if we were wise, would rid our homes of vermin and reach the place of power in the land if God has planned that for us – just as the spider or the lizard.
I think the wise Christian has all of these characteristics. Let’s learn from the most vulnerable how to be wise!