I was recently reading through the book of Proverbs and was, as always, intrigued by the references made to the ant. As a child, I often lay upon the ground and watched ants as they worked busily. I loved to watch them on their self-made super highways traveling from job site to ant mound and back again, often in as many as six lanes, three headed out and three headed in. Considering how frequently we battle them here, I was curious as to why the Bible mentioned them at all. Well with good reason, as it turns out. Here's what I read and what I learned in research.
Solomon mentions the ant in Proverbs 6:6-8 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow! Learn from their ways and be wise! For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. (TLB) Other versions say, "having no king, or overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in summer and gathers her food in the harvest."
And Agur, in Proverbs 30:24-25: There are four things that are small but unusually wise: The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer. (NASB)
This week, after reading these references I did a quick study on ants, nothing very in depth but enough to show me still more the great knowledge that Solomon had as a naturalist and how well he had studied the ant.
Ants are social creatures. Their lives are built on community. They are industrious indeed and work tirelessly to feed and build the colony. Ants are farmers and shepherds. They have 'herd ants' that they shepherd onto plants infested with aphids and they harvest a by product the aphids produce on those plants. There are even ants whose job is to move aphids from one plant to another so that the harvest can continue. While ants do have a queen in their mound they are just naturally workers. The males are drones whose sole job is to feed the queen and insure she lays eggs. The females are the ones that keep the colony going. Truly these creatures are fascinating...more so outdoors than within my house mind you!
Proverbs 6 is referring to the lazy fellow, a common enough reference throughout the Bible but especially in Proverbs, now that we're more aware of ants, we might interpret that to read 'woman' or 'female', as well. I cannot ever be accused of being always busy but I do try to be industrious and get busy doing the work I see that needs to be done. I find this verse certainly makes a statement for being self-motivated. John is not much of one for the cracking of a whip over my head, lol. However, if you read further references to the 'lazy fellow' in Proverbs you'll soon realize that the 'lazy fellow' will never be the one who prospers in any sense of the word. I think that goes for the 'lazy woman' as well, don't you?
I also find that these verses, along with the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 pretty much can go hand in hand with that description.
It was only a short study on ants and just these two verses that spurred it on, but I thought you might be interested to learn about the humble ants as I did.