Four Wise Things
Stephen Whitmore, Clacton-on-Sea
In Proverbs 30. 24-28, we read of four things which are little but wise. These would be reminders of the position which we enjoy in our Lord Jesus Christ. They are:
1. The Ants that Prepare.
2. The Conies dwelling in the Rock.
3. The Locusts moving by Bands.
4. The Spider in Kings' Palaces.
1. The Ants that Prepare
The ants are noted for their diligence despite their lack of size. Already in the book, Solomon has advised the sluggard to 'consider her ways and be wise', 6. 6. Isaiah reminds us that the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers in the sight of the Lord who sits on the circle of the earth, 40. 22. In this respect, we are no more than the ants, and yet we too have the solemn reminder that the time will come when, 'the harvest is past, the summer is ended', Jer. 8. 20. Against this background, there is the need for preparation. In one sense, all believers have made preparation for that time inasmuch as they have received the Lord as Saviour, and therefore secured an eternal salvation that can never betaken away.
While this verse would first of all sound a warning to the lost regarding the need to prepare for eternity, there is a very real sense in which we as believers ought to do the same. It might be questioned whether our lives convey the same urgency as our preaching in respect of eternity. There are few who, if asked what they would do if they knew that the Lord were coming today, would answer that they would not need to change their plans at all. If our lives were lived in the reality of the truth that He may come at any moment, that would be the only possible response. If this were so, then perhaps we might also carry more conviction in our preaching.
Let us look on to all that lies before us, and ask ourselves whether our lives are truly lived in recognition that while our pathway in this scene might be one of trial and testing, we look for the 'far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' that is the portion of all who know the Lord, and that is wrought by the 'light affliction' of the present, 2 Cor. 4. 17. This is the path of true wisdom, and is that which will glorify our Lord, and witness to the world of our confidence in Him, in a way which mere words never can.
2. The Conies Dwelling in the Rock
This expression leads us on to consider the security that belongs to the believer. The Lord Himself reminds us of the choice that is set before men, either to hear His words and obey, or not to hear. Those who choose the first option are like the man who builds on a rock that can withstand the storm and the flood. Here we see the security that belongs to the believer. We have a hope 'as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil', Heb. 6. 19. How our hearts should rejoice in the assurance that our salvation is based upon our Lord, and cannot fail because He secures us, and not we ourselves. We may be as the conies, feeble, unable to do more than flee to our refuge, but we have the assurance that the One who is our Refuge will never fail. His promise is forever true, 'I give unto them (my sheep) eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand', John 10. 28.
Once more, this verse goes further than to be a simple reminder of our eternal security. The One who is a Rock for eternity, is also our Rock for every circumstance of life. At least seventeen times in the Psalms, the psalmist speaks of the Lord as his Rock, in reference to the security from the trials of life. How our hearts should be encouraged in every trial that comes our way by this assurance. It is good to know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Rom. 8. 18, but it is better still to rest in the assurance that in every trial, we have a Rock on whom we can rest, and know that the trials cannot harm us. These are easy words to write, though difficult to carry with us in the trial, yet all who have passed through trials will prove the truth as they look above.
The fact that the houses, or homes, are in the rocks is a reminder that this cannot be a passing experience, not a place where we go only in times of trouble. Unless we set our hearts on the One who is above, we cannot expect to prove the fulness of what is found in Him, yet against this we need to realize that He may use the trial to bring us to the Rock, away from the homes that we so often make for ourselves in this world. Such an experience is a proof of the grace of our Lord, and is not something which we should take for granted.
3. The Locusts Moving by Bands
This verse reminds us of the fellowship of saints. The fact that they have no king is a reminder that this was what the Lord intended for His people. When Israel asked for a king, the Lord reminded Samuel that it was He who was rejected, not the prophet, 1 Sam. 8. 7. The intention of the Lord was that His people should be distinct in that the Lord led them, and they obeyed His voice alone. Sadly, they wanted to be as other nations with a king to lead them. The same principle is true for us. We are called to recognize the Lord alone, yet the common practice has been to set up an individual over a company, or even over a region, thus denying the Lordship of Christ, and replacing Him with a man-made leader. Let us never allow the temptation to follow the pattern of the world to influence us. Sadly, there are many who profess to gather simply to the Name of our Lord who set a man in varying degrees over the saints, rather than recognizing the Lord. It may also be that a man can influence the conduct of the assembly in a way that is as good as leading, even though there is no officially recognized leader. This is clearly condemned in the example of Diotrophes, 3 John 10.
If the locusts have no king, they go forth in unity. Here is true fellowship. We are united by the Lord Himself. We have no visible leader, but we have a Head in heaven who should also be our Lord in all that we do. How sad to reflect on the fact that we deny our Lord if we fail to live as He designs. If we need to have a leader on earth, then it is an open denial of the Lord in heaven. Let us ensure that we live in a way that clearly shows that He is Lord in every detail of our life.
4. The Spider in Kings' Palaces
Here is a reminder of the hope that thrills the heart of every believer. Our Lord Himself summed it up with the words to His own just before He went out to the cross, 'If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself', John 14. 3. How often have our hearts thrilled at the prospect of our Father's house, and the place prepared for us in glory. Just as the spider or lizard cannot be kept from the palace of the king, so the child of God has a certain place in heaven. We can rest in the assurance that we shall not only enter heaven itself, but we shall be received there as sons of God, with a perfect right of access, and the security of an eternal dwelling. The wonder of this is that of ourselves we have less claim on heaven than the spider on the king's palace, for there is no place for sin in the presence of a thrice holy God. Against this background we see the fulness of the work of Christ, as there is now no charge that can rightly be brought against us.
As we read the New Testament, we see this hope as a source of peace in perplexing circumstances, John 14. 1, a reason for steadfastness in the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. 15. 58, comfort in sorrow, 1 Thes. 4. 18, and purity in life, 1 John 3. 3.