Four Things Little and Wise.
24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: 25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; 26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; 27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; 28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.
I. Agur, having specified four things that seem great and yet are really contemptible, here specifies four things that are little and yet are very admirable, great in miniature, in which, as bishop Patrick observes, he teaches us several good lessons; as,
1. Not to admire bodily bulk, or beauty, or strength, nor to value persons or think the better of them for such advantages, but to judge of men by their wisdom and conduct, their industry and application to business, which are characters that deserve respect.
2. To admire the wisdom and power of the Creator in the smallest and most despicable animals, in an ant as much as in an elephant.
3. To blame ourselves who do not act so much for our own true interest as the meanest creatures do for theirs.
4. Not to despise the weak things of the world; there are those that are little upon the earth, poor in the world and of small account, and yet are exceedingly wise, wise for their souls and another world, and those are exceedingly wise, wiser than their neighbours. Margin, They are wise, made wise by the special instinct of nature. All that are wise to salvation are made wise by the grace of God.
II. Those he specifies are,
1. The ants, minute animals and very weak, and yet they are very industrious in gathering proper food, and have a strange sagacity to do it in the summer, the proper time. This is so great a piece of wisdom that we may learn of them to be wise for futurity, ch. vi. 6. When the ravening lions lack, and suffer hunger, the laborious ants have plenty, and know no want.
2. The conies, or, as some rather understand it, the Arabian mice, field mice, weak creatures, and very timorous, yet they have so much wisdom as to make their houses in the rocks, where they are well guarded, and their feebleness makes them take shelter in those natural fastnesses and fortifications. Sense of our own indigence and weakness should drive us to him that is a rock higher than we for shelter and support; there let us make our habitation.
3. The locusts; they are little also, and have no king, as the bees have, but they go forth all of them by bands, like an army in battle-array; and, observing such good order among themselves, it is not any inconvenience to them that they have no king. They are called God’s great army (Joel ii. 25); for, when he pleases, he musters, he marshals them, and wages war by them, as he did upon Egypt. They go forth all of them gathered together (so the margin); sense of weakness should engage us to keep together, that we may strengthen the hands of one another.
4. The spider, an insect, but as great an instance of industry in our houses as the ants are in the field. Spiders are very ingenious in weaving their webs with a fineness and exactness such as no art can pretend to come near: They take hold with their hands, and spin a fine thread out of their own bowels, with a great deal of art; and they are not only in poor men’s cottages, but in kings’ palaces, notwithstanding all the care that is there taken to destroy them. Providence wonderfully keeps up those kinds of creatures, not only which men provide not for, but which every man’s hand is against and seeks the destruction of. Those that will mind their business, and take hold of it with their hands, shall be in kings’ palaces; sooner or later, they will get preferment, and may go on with it, notwithstanding the difficulties and discouragements they meet with. If one well-spun web be swept away, it is but making another.
– Matthew Henry Commentary