Little but Wise
1. In vs. 24-28 we have the fourth set of “things” Agur observed.
2. They all follow the same poetic pattern of numbering the things.
a. Vs. 15-16 – Two things that are never satisfied.
b. Vs. 18-20 – Three, no four things that are too wonderful to know.
c. Vs. 21-23 – Three, no four things that are disquieting and unbearable for life on the earth.
d. Vs. 24-28 – Four things that are little, but wise.
3. This section of “things” Agur observed consists of ants, conies, locusts, and spiders.
a. They are all small and yet they all manifest wisdom—in various ways.
b. They each have something to teach us.
c. Job 12:7 – “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.”
d. There are lessons we can learn from animals.
e. Tonight we are going to consider the ant.
f. What a thought! The infinite, eternal, omnipresent God – the Lord and Creator of the universe, commands His children to take the time to stop and think about something as tiny as an ant.
g. And if we do take the time to stop and meditate about one of God’s tiniest creatures, there are some wonderful spiritual lessons that have the power to enable each of us to become BETTER servants of God and thus acquire more rewards that will be our blessing for all eternity!
h. Just by thinking about an ant!
i. It is actually a little humbling isn’t it? …that we have things to learn from an ant? It is humbling, but true.
j. The fool will never learn these things because it requires humility. The fool is too proud.
k. Proverbs 24:7 states that “wisdom is too high for a fool.” He will never get that high because the way up is down. If we humble ourselves, (which the fool refuses to do) God will lift us up.
l. Pride keeps us from wisdom. But if we are humble enough to consider the ant (and the conies and spiders), then God will lift us up and give us wisdom!
m. We would do well to take to heart the lessons that the ants have to teach us. They are small, but wise.
Introduction to the Series (vs. 25)
1. That which each of these critters has in common is the fact that they are all small, but wise.
2. In one way or another, they all teach us that wisdom is always preferable and superior to being big and powerful.
a. Wisdom is far more valuable than strength.
b. Wisdom is greater than stature.
c. Wisdom is even superior to knowledge. (Not all educated people are wise.)
3. In a sense, the book of Proverbs is all about wisdom: what it is, how to get it, how wisdom exceeds folly, and what to avoid.
4. We have already seen some passages in Proverbs that teach this same truth: wisdom is superior to strength.
a. Prov. 21:22 – “A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.”
b. Prov. 24:5 – “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”
5. Now we are going to consider examples from God’s creation—and tiny creatures at that!
ANTS: Small, But Wise Enough to Be Diligent and Prepared
“The ants are a people not strong,
yet they prepare their meat in the summer.”
A. The Ants Are a People Not Strong
1. Ants are not strong physically.
a. Actually, for their size and weight, ants are exceptionally strong.
b. But Agur is considering their strength as compared to other creatures.
c. Compared to a rhinoceros, ants are not strong. I don’t think anyone would debate that point.
d. Ants are tiny. Most creatures could simply step on them and crush them. It’s really no contest.
e. If it was a match up based on brute force, not many creatures would be afraid of the strength of an ant.
2. This is really the basis of Agur’s point.
a. Real strength isn’t always measured in brute force.
b. It’s good to be physically strong, but there are many things that are superior to brute force. The ant is one example.
c. Don’t judge a book by its cover. An ant is small, relatively weak, and not all that attractive, but they are wise… which is far more valuable.
d. Brains trump brawns.
B. Yet They Prepare Their Meat In the Summer
1. Ants are wise enough to plan ahead.
a. Ants know their needs. They know they need food.
b. They have the foresight to know that the food supply they have won’t last throughout the winter months.
c. It is almost as if they budgeted their time and resources, figured out exactly how much food they would need to carry them until the next growing season, and then made plans to store enough away.
d. They may be tiny critters, but there are much larger and much stronger animals that DON’T make it through the winter because they don’t plan ahead.
e. God gave Joseph the wisdom to stockpile the grains in Egypt during the seven years of famine.
• He had a master plan to deal with droughts that were coming.
• Joseph “prepared the meat” for the Egyptians ahead of time so as to have enough to meet their needs during a season when there would be no food.
• He showed such wisdom and foresight, that he was made the Prime Minister of the greatest empire on earth at the time.
• In other words, the Prime Minister of the greatest empire on earth had the wisdom of an ant!
• And the whole empire admired Joseph and gloried in his wisdom.
f. God made the ant… and God gave the ant the “foresight” (scientists call it instinct) to prepare ahead of time. To God be the glory. Scientists don’t like to give God the glory for the wonders and marvels He built into His creation; but we should.
2. Ants are wise enough to take personal responsibility.
a. Prov. 6:6-8 – In this passage, it is evident that Solomon (the author) also studied ants and made observations about their wisdom.
• Solomon challenges his readers to “Go to the ant… and consider her ways.”
• The ant has “ways” that we would be wise to observe and incorporate into our lives.
• In other words, if you want to gain wisdom, put aside all your high tech toys for a while, and watch ants work.
• “And be wise.” By observing, we should learn from the ant, and as a result, gain wisdom we can put into practice in our own lives!
• Observing ants is not a waste of time; it is time well spent.
• Solomon used the same word as Agur: “they PREPARE” their meat in the summer.” (translated “provide” here)
• Solomon also observed that the ants have the foresight to plan ahead for winter.
• Note also that Solomon says that ants do this with “no guide, overseer, or ruler.”
» This was not an edict which came down from a communist-type central government forcing all the workers into submission to their five year plan.
» This was not a kind of socialism where the ants were forced to behave in a particular way for the good of the society imposed upon them from above. Nobody forced them. There was no ruler.
» It was simply that each of the ants had enough foresight and wisdom to know that they needed food and they therefore planned ahead to gather it and store it up for the winter.
» Nobody had to demand it of them. They were not forced into labor like Pharaoh forcing people into building the pyramids and other national building projects.
» They each took personal responsibility. The work had to be done so they did it. No questions asked.
» They were small and relatively weak, but wise.
b. We could learn some lessons from the ants.
3. Ants are wise enough to be diligent.
a. Prov. 6:6-8 – Solomon not only spoke of their individual, personal responsibility (no ruler over them making demands), he also highlights their hard work and diligence.
b. Vs. 6 – This passage is directed towards the sluggard.
• He is addressing lazy human beings.
• Vs. 9 – The sluggard would rather sleep than work.
• Vs. 11 – the sluggard will end up in poverty. He won’t have enough of what he needs because instead of going to work to earn money to meet his needs, he was sleeping… or at the beach… or watching the clouds roll by.
• The lazy man may have a lot of intelligence. He may have been an A+ student in school; but he is not wise.
• The lazy man isn’t even as wise as an ant.
c. The ant knows enough to get up and go to work gathering food for the winter. The ant has the foresight to do it, the personal responsibility to do it, and he has the diligence required to do it.
d. The ant will have plenty to eat during the winter months.
• And that is not because they are large and strong.
• Ps. 34:10a – “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger.”
• Lions are much larger and stronger than ants, but the ants do not lack food because they are diligent and industrious workers.
e. But what about the lazy human being?
• The lazy human being is much larger than the ant. He is much stronger than an ant. And he has far more intelligence than the ant.
• But the ant is superior in wisdom.
• That is really something to think about.
• Ants know how to take care of themselves better than some human beings!
4. They are wise enough to seize a window of opportunity.
a. Proverbs 30:25 – The ant prepares his meat in the summer time.
b. The ant has the wisdom to know (1) that he needs food for the winter and (2) that food grows in the summer time, and (3) that the summer time is the only season of opportunity they have to get what they need.
c. And because they are diligent and industrious workers, they SEIZE the opportunity.
d. Other creatures may be relaxing in the summer sun. Other creatures may be splashing in the pond. Other creatures may hibernate during the winter and don’t need a stockpile of food. But the ants know that they DO need a stockpile of food for the winter.
e. They take advantage of the summer to get what they need.
f. They know that once the cold weather settles in, their window of opportunity closes on them.
g. They are wise enough NOT to let that happen.
h. The ants prepare their meat (food) in the summer.
i. We too could learn good lessons from the ant.
• God gives us seasons of opportunity too.
• We should have the wisdom to SEIZE the opportunities God gives and use them for God’s glory.
• Some opportunities come and go.
j. Today the window of opportunity is open to preach the gospel.
• We should do what we can with what we have to SEIZE this opportunity to plant churches and preach the gospel of the grace of God to all the “whosoever wills” out there.
• The window of opportunity may not be as wide open down the road.
• Col. 4:2-4 – “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”
• Let’s be as wise as ants in our own little circle of influence.