Small But Smart (Part 1)

Bob RoaneCounseling, Wise living

Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; conies are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. (Proverbs 30:24-28)


The Bible’s Book of Proverbs is full of small, but wonderfully delightful truths. Lots of pleasant surprises for the believer’s mind, heart, and life. Lots of marvelous things to observe in the Lord’s world every day, all around us. We need to be ready, open, and teachable to receive them. Proverbs 18:15 says: “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” When we are humble and ready to learn, the Lord will teach us everyday.

Life is exciting as God’s child in His world. But if we don’t look and appreciate Him and His lessons, life seems dull and dreary. All of life illustrates and demonstrates Bible truth. Everyday life is filled with creatures, events, and things that teach us thrilling lessons. In Jesus’ parables, He used everyday events to teach deep spiritual truths. Proverbs does the same. Writer Orson Scott Card says: “Everybody walks past a thousand good stories every day. Some of us see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”

Four Small Animals

Proverbs 30 shows us four small animals and their limitations. Yes, insects are technically animals. These animals adapt and use their weaknesses to their advantage to survive and thrive in God’s world. The Lord calls all four of them wise and calls us to learn from them. That means we are to learn from their Creator, who is our Creator, God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Christ-like wisdom involves recognizing our problems and inabilities and compensating. No human being (except Jesus) is perfect—morally, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and behaviorally. Maturity involves accepting our abilities and disabilities and making the best of them, flexing, being resilient and resourceful. We do this by God’s grace, for His glory, with His help, by faith in Him.

Small Creatures Designed and Made by the Lord Ways They Are Extremely Wise
Ants Plan, Prepare, Use Foresight
Conies (hyraxes) Run to a Place of Refuge
Locusts Work as an Organized Team
Lizards Improvise, Adapt, Persevere

Wise Ants Plan, Prepare and Use Foresight. So Should We

It’s wonderful to watch ants working at a picnic, once we get over being annoyed by them. They come in different kinds and sizes. They can find food everywhere and are able to carry large loads. Drop a piece of candy or cookie or potato chip and watch the ants go to work. They send out a silent signal for all the ants to come to a feast. They come in long lines, uniting in a common purpose to take advantage of the unexpected treat.

Proverbs 30:25 says: “Ants are creatures of little strength.” Although they carry loads that far exceed their size and weight, they can’t carry the same loads as bigger animals like elephants or horses. Ants are comparatively weak. But v. 25 continues: “Yet they store up their food in the summer.” They prepare and provide for the future. Their smallness and weakness are no problem for them. They adapt and use prudence, organization, and unity to survive and thrive. They prepare for the future, unlike many foolish people. So they are smart.

They imitate the wise Lord who made them. God prepares and lays out His creation, human history, His plan of salvation, and our individual lives. Around the world different ants prepare in different ways. They store up food in different ways so they can eat when new food is not available. They are wise enough to plan to meet their needs before the problem of hunger strikes. Ants are so wise that the word creature in v. 25 is the Hebrew word for people! This shows that God’s focus in this passage is on our behavior, walking wisely with Christ, not just animal curiosities.

Two Chinese proverbs say: Thatch your roof before rainy weather. Dig your well before you become parched with thirst. That’s wisdom!

God’s Goodness Must Not Make Us Lazy

The Lord’s promises to provide help us to trust Him and have confidence in Him, but never to presume on Him or be careless. Proverbs 6:6-11 contrasts the ants with a sluggard, a slacker, a slothful person.

Jesus said: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27) The birds trust God for food, but they are never lazy. They seem to never stop seeking and gathering food for their families. The Lord made them that way.

Trusting God means both that we wait on Him for guidance and direction and also that we get going in the direction He points us in the Scriptures. Trusting God includes using the minds and gifts He has given us to move forward in obedience, like the ants. We press on in the Lord’s strength, not in our own, trusting Him along the way and submitting to His mid-course corrections.

J. I. Packer said: People who are passive do not thrive but waste away. The Christian’s motto should not be “Let go and let God”…But “trust God and get going.” If you’re seeking to form a good habit, work out a strategy, ask God’s help, try your hardest, and work with others.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us wisdom, instruction, understanding, and insight. Equip us with prudent behavior for doing what is right, just, and fair in your sight. Give us the proper fear of the Lord that’s the beginning of knowledge, so that we are not foolish. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Prayer based on Proverbs 1:1-7)

To be continued. See Small But Smart (Part 2).