Proverbs 30 contains the wisdom of Agur, son of Jakeh. I find his words very interesting and they read as if he were just pensively reflecting about the things he has observed on the earth. He finds a number of illustrations to remind him of God’s glory, of His majesty, of His remarkable creativity, of His holiness and of His deity. He finds three things too wonderful for him, three things that disturb the earth, four things little on the earth but wise, and three things majestic in pace. He asks the Lord for two things, and to have them before he dies,
“Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches – Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.” [Proverbs 30:8-9]
Agur understands the omnipotence, the mystery, and yet the beauty of God. He sees God in life, in creation, and recognises His power at work on the earth. He understands that when we know God, we are satisfied. Paul also expresses this understanding in Philippians 4. He gives these two points of insight:
- “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” [Philippians 4:8]
- “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Philippians 4:11-13]
So, I want to look at the wisdom Agur sees in four little creatures – what revelation of God can we see in them?
Proverbs 30:24-28 describes this:
“There are four things which are little on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer; The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags; The locusts have no king, Yet they advance in ranks; The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces.”
Four creatures are mentioned, each either small, or described with some sort of weakness. Yet each one is said to be exceeding wise.
The Ants – Preparation for the Coming Time
The ants are described as “a people not strong”. However, their wisdom comes in how they gather their food in summer. This reminds me of how we are to prepare for the coming time.
In particular, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins comes to mind. Though all the virgins fell asleep before the bridegroom arrived, those who were wise ensured they had oil in their lamps, while the foolish ones had none. This is the oil of intimacy, which requires time. We cannot give this oil to others, but it is accumulated through time spent with the Lord, growing closer to Him. The parable is found in Matthew 25:1-13. Verse 13 gives us the instruction to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Part of this watching includes investing time in the secret place, developing our relationship with the bridegroom King Jesus that when the day of His arrival comes, we will recognise Him, and He will know us also.
Investing in intimacy with God does not require strength, but it is as we are weak that we see His strength. Jesus is not taking the strong with Him, He is taking those who have submitted their lives to Him, who have stored up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth by following His commands and loving Him. May we gather while it is still summer – to invest in intimacy and to submit ourselves to the ways of the Lord.
The Rock Badgers – Built Upon a Solid Foundation
The rock badgers are described as being “a feeble folk”, but their wisdom is in how they make their homes in the crags (ie. The rocks/mountains/cliffs). This makes me think of three things – (1) The importance of building our home upon a solid foundation, (2) That the pursuit of building a solid home may be steep, and (3) We take a new name from what we consider our “home”, or our purpose.
Let me explain further. Firstly, when I speak about our home, I am speaking about the underlying purpose of our being, about what our sights are set upon, and what drives us to lives as we live on earth. I make my home Jesus – I abide in Him and I look forward to the day when He returns and we are with Him in eternity. Consider the following:
- John 15:4 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
- Matthew 7:24-25 describes the image of those who declare the name of the Lord, and also bear fruit through their obedience to His word – “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and th rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
- Ephesians 2:19-10 identifies Jesus as the chief cornerstone, upon whom the whole church is built together – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
What do you see as “home”? What do you abide in?
Secondly, the way of the Lord is not always easy. There is a famous book called “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. It is an allegory of the Christian life and throughout the book, Christian (the main character), undergoes many trials, and travels many hard and dangerous roads. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Despite the difficulties of the narrow path, we have the assurance of a compassionate, faithful and powerful God who not let us out of His hand.
Are you willing to take the steep and narrow path that leads to life in Christ?
Finally, our home and purpose gives us a name. We have titles for our weekday jobs – Postman, Doctor, Fashion Designer, Mum, for example. What about our spiritual names? Are we called by Christ’s Name? Do we know we are His son, His daughter? Are we faithful stewards, or hired workers? One thing is certain, whatever we serve in life, whatever we betroth ourselves to, that is the Name we will take upon ourselves.
Who are you betrothed to? – work, money, relationships, or God?
The Locusts – United in Advance
Despite having no king, it seems the locusts advance in ordered ranks, making them effective in their work. Locust plagues are associated with extensive, widespread destruction of crops and vegetation. Locusts are bent on devouring crops, and even without a king, they achieve this goal simultaneously. It drives them, and they are incredibly hard to stop.
Imagine the impact the church could have if we were united in the Kingdom of Christ. When the church is united in purpose, knowing God is worth everything, what can stop His power expressed through us? I remember a passage in Rick Joyner’s “The Vision”. He describes an ordered army passing through the land, with beauty and life springing up from wherever they trod. He also described a disorder and chaotic army who destroyed everything in its path. I don’t actually remember what this vision was in relation to now, but certainly there is a major difference in the outcomes of these armies.
The church, in unity, has the power to destroy and to build life. Throughout history, the church, acting in unity has affected the world powerfully. The church, acting in disunity, has also affected the world in significant ways. We need to remember what the true purpose of the church is. We can influence the world in politics, in government in people’s personal lives and in the spiritual realm but the church must not lose its primary focus – that is, to love and worship God, and to be His physical presence here on the earth. Ephesians 2:22 describes the purpose of the church as members of the household of God, built upon Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone – “… in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
Furthermore, unlike the locusts, we actually have a commander and king. Revelation 19:11-14 describes Him as Faithful, True and Just.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God, and the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”
We also have a description of the meaning of this white linen in Revelation 19:7-8
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
So, as members of the army of Christ, and as His church and bride, we can prepare by obedience to His word, in clothing ourselves with righteous acts of faith and love. A visiting pastor at my church described the role of the church in manifesting God’s presence on earth in the following way (I’ve just summarised it here):
- Authority – teaching the Spirit-Inspired Word of God
- Love – Fruit of the Sprit (character)
- Power – Gifts of the Spirit (miracles, healing, ministry)
The Spider – Grasping for Glory
What is the spider grasping with its hands? It is grasping silken threads, thin and strong, to weave into a beautiful but deadly web. No human weaving, sewing or tapestry can compare the natural wonder of a spider’s web.
How can we learn from the wisdom of the spider? The passage describes how the spider “skillfully grasps” with its hands. This makes me think of what we grasp for? How do we grasp for it? What do we work towards? I want to be found worthy of my calling, I want to reside in the house of the Lord, and I want the fruit of my life on earth to be pleasing to Him. To fulfil these things, I need to dedicate myself to growing in Christ, keeping my eyes on the things above.
Colossians 3:1-2 sums this up beautifully:
“If then, you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Wow. Indeed there is so much wisdom to be learnt from each of these four creatures and the way they live. I pray we may, as Paul encourages, meditate on all things good, and true, noble and pure, virtuous and praiseworthy. May God give us greater revelation of who He is as we seek His glory and His purposes. Amen.