Conies: Feeble but Wise
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.
1. Verse 26 is part of the context that begins in vs. 24.
2. In this section, the author Agur is describing four things which are little, but exceedingly wise.
3. The first small but wise creature was the ant. Ants are tiny and are not strong compared to other creatures; however, they are wise enough and have the foresight to plan ahead and prepare their food in the summer.
4. The second small but wise creature is the coney. The coney is feeble, but makes his house in the rocks.
The conies are but a feeble folk
A. What Is a Coney?
1. It is hard to be certain exactly which animal the Bible refers to when its species is not well known. Some creatures have become extinct. Others may have different names in different lands.
2. Various descriptions are given for this creature.
3. The coney of the Bible has been variously described as:
a. Some have identified it as the Syrian rock hyrax.
b. It is similar to a rabbit in appearance – with short ears.
c. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the coney is the badger (which is similar to a woodchuck or a groundhog).
d. However, according to the Easton Bible dictionary, “It is about the size and color of a rabbit, though clumsier in structure, and without a tail. Its feet are not formed for digging, and therefore it has its home not in burrows but in the clefts of the rocks.”
e. According to Deut. 14:7 – The coney is distinguished from the hare – and thus is not the same as the hare (rabbit).
f. Yet another dictionary identified the coney as a shrew mouse… a small rodent.
g. Lev. 11:5 – The coney was considered an unclean animal to the Jews because he chews his cud but does not divide his hoof.
4. We may never know with certainty which creature to identify with the Bible “coney”—if any. It could be extinct.
a. But it is not necessary to know with certainty.
b. We do know approximately what kind of creature it is.
c. It is a small animal, similar to a rabbit, large mouse-like creature, or a groundhog… that evidently does not dig.
d. It appears to chew its cud and it does not divide its hoof.
5. Agur gives us two more features of the coney—features that are pertinent to the proverbial point he is trying to make.
a. Vs. 24 – They are small but wise.
b. Vs. 26 – They are “feeble folks”
c. FEEBLE: The expression “they are a feeble folk” is actually a positive translation of a negative expression in Hebrew. The Hebrew says, “They are not a mighty folk” – hence, a feeble folk. It means exactly the same thing.
d. FOLK: This refers to its “tribe” or “group”… we would say today, its species. This implies that there is a whole family of other similar creatures in this “kind” that are feeble and make their homes in the rocks.
6. The coney is not strong or mighty; it is feeble.
a. The implication here is that the coney is not well equipped to defend itself against predators.
b. There were lots of other creatures roaming the wilderness that would love to make a meal of the conies.
c. Wolves, jackals, wild dogs, large snakes, and perhaps even some birds of prey could easily overpower these feeble creatures.
d. With their small legs they cannot outrun a wolf.
e. They don’t have the fangs, the claws, or even the strength to do battle with a wild dog, or even wild cats.
f. They don’t have the armor of an armadillo – which have built in plates that serve as protection against their enemies.
g. They don’t have the wings of an eagle to fly away.
h. They don’t have the size to scare down a predator.
i. Compared to the creatures that would love to feast on them, the coney is vulnerable… defenseless… helpless out there in the wilderness. It has no strength.
7. Thus, the coney cannot rely on its own strength for safety against its enemies.
a. It must never trust in its brute force for protection against its adversaries. If it does, it will surely lose the battle—and perish.
b. The coney is one of the four things Agur says are small upon the earth… and not only small, but feeble – weak and helpless.
c. The coney lives in a hostile environment, surrounded by creatures much larger and stronger than itself – creatures that are seeking to hunt it down, kill it, eat its flesh, and toss its carcass in the wilderness.
d. The coney finds itself in a most precarious situation.
Yet make they their houses in the rocks
1. Agur also tells us something else about the coney. It may be small, but it is WISE! And how does it manifest wisdom?
2. They make their houses in the crags of the rocks that are found everywhere out in the wilderness.
3. Psa. 104:18 – This is the only other place in the Bible where the word coney is mentioned.
a. “The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.”
b. The coney finds REFUGE in the rocks.
c. Refuge: A place of safety; free from danger.
d. Interestingly in the whole context of this psalm is designed to reveal the fact that it is the LORD who provided all that His creatures need.
• Vs.10, 13 – HE sends them water and streams.
• Vs. 14 – HE causes the grass to grow for the cattle.
• Vs. 16-17 – HE planted all the trees and provided homes for the birds.
• Vs. 18 – It is implied too that it was HE who provided the rocks for the conies as a place of REFUGE from their enemies.
e. So WHY does Agur call them wise?
• Because they are wise enough to realize their weakness.
• They are wise enough to take advantage of that which God has provided for their safety and refuge.
• They are wise enough to be humble enough to realize that they are no match for their predators—therefore, they go to the place of refuge God has provided.
• If they were proud and foolish, they might try to do battle with the fox or wolf.
• But because they are humble and wise, they take advantage of the safety God provided for them – the rocks.
4. They lack strength; so they don’t rely on their own strength.
a. They hide in the little caves and crags in rocks.
b. And in that little hole, they are safe from much larger and stronger creatures.
c. The other creatures (wolves and dogs) may be stronger than the coney, but they are not stronger than the rock in which the coney finds safety… and they are too large—and thus the enemies cannot get “in” where the conies are hiding.
We could learn some good lessons from the coney
1. Don’t be proud and foolish; be humble and wise.
2. Acknowledge our own spiritual weakness. Have no confidence in our flesh.
• “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.” (Rom. 7:18)
3. Take refuge in the ROCK that God has provided for us.
• “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psa. 46:1)
• “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psa. 62:7-8)
4. Stay close to the Rock.
• “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Ps. 91:9-10)
5. Turn your weaknesses into strength by resting in the ROCK of Ages.
• “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (II Cor. 4:7)
6. Don’t lament your weakness. See it as an opportunity to rely upon the infinite power of God.
• “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, (weakness) for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Cor. 12:10)
7. There is no need to fear our enemies when we take refuge in God’s provision for safety.
• Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one] (Eph. 6:16).
8. We too have an enemy that is much stronger than we are. But when we rest in the safety of our Rock of Ages, we are safe and secure and nothing can harm us.
• “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Pet. 5:8)
• “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” (Psa. 91:1-5)
9. Don’t trust in self and assume that we can handle our adversary on our own.
• “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psa. 56:11)
• “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. 4I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” (Psa. 61:1-4)
10. Thank God for the “cleft of the Rock” He has provided.
• “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. 4I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised…” (II Sam. 22:1-4)
11. Today, it is also true among humans, that the unclean creature (a sinful man) who runs to Christ in faith will find safety and security in Him… our Rock of Ages.