Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
Prov. 30.24-28 Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.
So far in these master lessons on wisdom we’ve seen that there are unfillable voids in the souls of men, explaining many of the seemingly inexplicable actions of men. Secondly, we’ve seen there are unfathomable mysteries in life. Some things will never make sense to us, and we dare not lose our minds over it. Peace is not a product of understanding everything, but of knowing (and loving) the One who does. Then thirdly we saw that there will always be unfitting realities in life. Injustices we cannot right. Things that just aren’t “right”. But nevertheless – are.
Our fourth lesson is rooted in the fact that there is untapped wisdom all around us – especially in creation. And in this case, wisdom that shows us how to deal with the challenges to one of our most basic issues in life.
These four speak to one of the most primal realities which any of us faces in life: We hate the thought of, let alone the experience of being – powerless. The sense of futility and often anger and rage that accompanies our times of being helpless or powerless can be attested to by each one of us. Just think back to the last time you suffered even the slightest injustice, and found yourself unable to reverse it.
People we cannot impact infuriate and terrify us. The purchase of insurance is always (at least in part) an attempt to hedge against the inevitable. It is an attempt to bring peace over things we cannot control: accidents, death, health, etc. So we do what we can do to take away the threat of the ravages of things we cannot maintain power over. We groan when our elected officials make decisions contrary to our wishes. And when we see it happening nationally – when governmental decisions flatly contradict what is known to be the majority will of the people – we are outraged. We see the inherent multiplication of evil when adults abuse children. The powerlessness of their victims bites into our hearts and we feel especially pained. It is why denial is so often the first response to bad news. It is behind the anger, depression and utter despair of those who know they have no chance of changing their lot in life. We will endure almost anything, as long as we have some measure of control.
But the ants have no “power”. They are not strong. How do they manage in a world where they are virtually the most powerless of all? They do what they can – when they can. And then they are cast upon God. And the rock badgers or mountain mice – tiny and frail – how do they survive? They’ve learned the secret of hiding in those places that are strong. A lesson to us to find our refuge in the strong tower of God’s name, rather than in our own strength or ability.
And then the locusts. They are just bugs. They can be flicked off with the tiniest finger. Blown about with the slightest wind. Yet entire regions can fall beneath the plague when these feeble little creatures – without a leader – band together and make an army none can defeat. A picture of our being bound together with the host of powerless Christians, who apart from any earthly King, yet march on for Christ’s kingdom, and have brought down entire empires. The unity of the powerless sons of God – relying on the power of their God.
And lastly, the lizard – or as some translations have it – the spider: Both little, frail, easily caught and extinguished. Yet in their usefulness, not only found but allowed to live in the finest places, in King’s palaces. Their natural capacity to rid their environs of multitudes of other pests, makes a way for them when they would not be tolerated naturally. So that Christians, bringing ethics and goodness and safety to those around them, though without any power in themselves, are found to be a needed part of society. A sort of welcome pest. Even the most vicious opponent recognizes that when Christians actually live up to the standard of God’s Word, the world around them is better for it.
Power is sought by all of us. Power over a cheating spouse, an abusing superior, a stronger opponent, the indefatigable waves of life. But power over things in life is not what we need. No, trust and confidence in the One who rules and reigns over all, that is what we NEED. Confidence that He has made us as we are. That His hand is upon us. That the gifts and capacities He has placed within us, are more than meet for the need of the hour, if we look to Him. That we can run into Him and be safe. That we are our Beloved’s, and He is ours, and that is enough. Jesus cast off all His divine prerogatives, and became a helpless, powerless baby. And later, He cared nothing to have power over the enemies who would mock, beat and crucify Him. He committed Himself, entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly (1 Pet. 2.23).
And if that was enough for Him, surely it will suffice for us.