“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise; which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8.
Out of this entire chapter, these verses seem outstanding. There is much to be gleaned here, all of it with a view – once more repeated – to be kept from that “strange woman” (verse 23 to the end of the chapter). Observing these axioms and “parables” protects us from becoming ensnared in her wiles and deceptions. The ant is showing us a part of that.
The industriousness of the ant is outstanding among creatures! That’s fairly simple and straightforward. Paramount, however, is the trait of performing one’s life sustaining tasks without anyone having to supervise. Doing the right things consistently from an inward motivation, thus showing good character development, is revealed by this little six legged creature.
The ant’s timing is impeccable too. She does the right things at the right time.
What’s not obviously pointed out directly is that the ant is a selfless team player. She never asks, “What’s in it for me?” The ant is not looking out for number one. She’s focused on the task in the moment, doing what she’s created to do. An entire colony of ants is like choreography, each one dancing her way through the day without interfering with anyone else’s routine or stepping on another’s toes, and all benefitting from each one’s efforts and know how. It’s peak efficiency and beauty!
It is humbling to be directed by God to such tiny creatures!
I’ve always admired the Native American traditions regarding the sacredness of animals of all kinds. They are regarded as wisdom teachers. By observing and noticing their habits, routines, and traits, the Creator reveals to us through His creatures what we may need to see about ourselves that could use some improvement.
In this I do not find any conflict with today’s topic. (See also Romans 1:19,20) The practice of “considering” the ant is an imperative for sluggards! The king isn’t mincing any words here!
Saint Francis, regarded as the patron saint of animals, also respected and loved God’s creatures with whom we share the Earth.
He is for this reason admired by Christians and persons of good will from other traditions alike. In his love and respect for all God’s creatures he reflects the unconditional love of Jesus.
It’s good to come together over what we can agree on when it comes to our spiritual traditions, wherever Perennial Wisdom is held in common. Could we perhaps be diligent as the ant along those lines, as we share the Love of our Lord with people of other faiths? Can we look for the good, and send out a beacon of welcome to any and all of like mind?
The Lord is saying here, through Solomon, to His Jewish and Christian children, to consider the ant and be wise. As I read through this, I was reminded of that last part of what we call the Great Commission, that we are to teach all nations “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Would this not include the directive to consider the ant?
So much is made of the baptizing part of the Great Commission, but is there nearly enough emphasis on observing of all that has been commanded, following entry into the Christian faith, of being the Gospel walking around on two legs? (See Matthew 28:18-20)
The little ant has six legs! She is perhaps a more able example than we two-leggeds. There are lots of things we can draw from this, so many beautiful, delightful, and wise ways overlooked – as we heatedly defend our “positions,” our cat-echesis and dog-ma, straining at gnats and swallowing camels. (Matthew 23:24) More animals – gnats and camels – referred to by Jesus as He scolded the religious leaders, showing them the need to emphasize majoring on majors and not major on minors!
The ant has no personal agendas to uphold. She does not ask, “What’s in it for Sally, and is she taking advantage of me? Or, “I’m not on the same page doctrinally with George. So I will hold back some on the unconditional love I should be showing him.”
Granted – these attitudes are not always conscious. It’s more or less often pre-installed software (fear reactions arising out of original sin). That’s why we need to look into the little mirrors which God’s other creatures can be to us. It’s a good habit. We could even consider it a spiritual practice – to “consider” the ant, the squirrel, the crow, the hummingbird… The list and the possibilities are endless! (See Romans 1:20)
No, “ant wisdom” seems to transcend “head knowledge” and goes straight for Heart Wisdom, for here the ant is referred to in the feminine. This points to where we all come at the world with Christ Love in full surrender of self to the Heavenly Father’s good and gracious will for us! It’s that perfect love that casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18)
Perhaps, dear reader, you can come up with some of your own examples of how God’s creatures have “spoken” to you. It would be such a blessing to hear about it, if you wish to share that in the comments.
Or if this is a new idea to you – you might consider choosing to notice a particular animal, to see what it will reveal to you. It’s also very revealing to study its traits from a scientific perspective – the creature’s life cycles, habits, and so forth.
You may find that all Nature comes alive with the Still Small Voice. Hopefully it won’t be the braying of Balaam’s donkey! (See Numbers 22:21-38) It may be we will see things we’ve never seen before!
If anyone desires Wisdom, ask… She’s everywhere!