Bible Reading: Proverbs 6.6-11
Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”— 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man. Proverbs 6:6-11
In this Proverb, Solomon contrasts the tiny ant, that has no boss and is quite diligent to that of a “sluggard”. Defined in the dictionary and verse 10 as habitually lazy, sluggish, do-nothing, a slacker, one that sleeps too much (Verse 10), unmotivated, procrastinates and full of excuses (Proverbs 22:13).
When looking at this passage, the first thought I had is why did Solomon pick the ant? Did he have issues with ants back in the day like we do? In this passage, as well as all of the Proverbs, we are reminded of Solomon’s insight and wisdom. Especially to give us word pictures of contrast based on observation.
In 1 Kings 3, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon asked for a discerning heart to govern the people and God granted him wisdom and said “I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.“ God enabled Solomon, through the Holy Spirit, with this special wisdom which also included the ability to wisely observe man, nature and even the “ant” and apply it to life.
I read several articles on ant history, very interesting, in preparing to write this and discovered that Solomon’s statement about ants was done well before the advanced study of insects or “entomology” began. The field has only been around a few hundred centuries. Prior to that, the understanding of bugs was very limited to agricultural matters. A French naturalist by the name of Rene Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur was the very first to identify that the vast majority of ants were in fact female. This goes back to 1742. Today, we know that all worker ants are female and the males really only exist for procreation and are fairly lazy (perhaps sluggards). According to a study at Stanford University on the management practices of ant colonies, “All ant colonies have in common that there is no central control. No ant tells another ant what to do. Also note that there are classes of ants that are “harvester ants” that store up supplies and create granaries as separate storage areas for future meals. Solomon is more than accurate in describing the ant life.
Ultimately, Solomon is raising the issue of consequences between the Ant and the Sluggard.
By observing the Ant and beginning with the end in mind, the Ant prepares food in the summer knowing that it will have nothing to eat if it does not store away for the winter time. Each ant does its part and works hard to be prepared. It doesn’t have to be motivated, it doesn’t have to be reminded, they are diligent in their efforts, they have plenty in the harvest to carry them through the winter.
The sluggard who prefers sleeping vs working only steals from themselves and possibly others at some point. The consequences of their actions ultimately can lead to poverty. The warnings from the ants are to prepare ahead of time, don’t procrastinate. Create a plan. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask for help. (Proverbs 15:22) Be diligent and self-controlled in all you do and will lead to provision. God has a plan for each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…”. Trust in the Lord to lead you (Proverbs 3:5-6).
This made me think about the movie “Antman”. In that movie, man had powers like an ant but had to do it with a suit. In this case, the sluggard needs to put on new thinking and be renewed. A good lesson from Solomon and the ant!
Before Christ, we were all “sluggards of sin”, lost in purpose, without direction and needing to renew our lives. As a result of Jesus Christ and His grace we are able to be renewed as Paul shared in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Memory Verse: Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4.23