Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Ant

carpenter ant on leaf


I just love reading Proverbs.  It is not something that I would generally read front to back, but rather just a few verses at a time. They are concise bits of wisdom that teach and entertain. They are occasionally quite comic in they way they demonstrate their truths.  It is important to remember that they are not promises from God.  They are bits of insightful wisdom that show the nature of man and the usual results of his behavior. They are short, simple illustrations teach basic realities of life.

I am beginning this adventure into the Proverbs with some verses on laziness.  I hope to add some more in future blogs.

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
"A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest"—

Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.  
Proverbs 6:6-11 (NASB)


According to John Silling, a Purdue University entomologist, the ant is an exemplary worker. "Basically the ant's entire life, which can range up to seven years, is spent working," says Silling. "They gather food, bring it back to the nest, and use it for day-to-day meals as well as to store for the winter."

In addition, the amazing insects can be adept horticulturalists, states the professor. Some species "gather bits of grass or leaves and take them back to their nest. On this organic matter, which is used much like fertilizer, they place tiny mushroom spores and grow them for food." But ants as dairy-keepers? That's right. "Some ants get the majority of their food by 'milking' aphids or plant lice which are often known as 'ant cows/ says the scientist. "The ants sometimes herd the aphids down into the ant nests at night or when it starts to get cool; then when it gets warm again, they herd them back up to the plants."

Not all ants store up for the winter.  The leaf cutting ants noted in the report of John Silling will cut leaves and take them to their elaborate underground nests to grow fungi to feed their community.  Most likely the ants mentioned in the above proverb are harvester ants (Messor Semirufus), the most frequent species in Israel today. They store food during the harvest for use during the wintertime. There are more than 100 kinds of Harvester ants in the genus Messor. In Palestine quite often these ants are seen trailing across the ground carrying seeds. The ant in my photo above is not a Harvester Ant - but they are often seen on plants herding aphids and milking them for their sustenance.

The simple ant is not so simple.  The ant is quite industrious. God has created the ant to be diligent and to plan ahead for rough times. It is amazing that man, who is created in the image of God, would choose to be lazy.  It is quite an insult to a sluggard to be told to learn from an ant. It is an insult to the sluggard and to God. To be created in the image of God does not permit us to chooze to be lazy. This proverb refers to one who has willfully chosen to be early to bed and stay there all day.  When one chooses to live this way (not due to health or natural disabilities), his laziness will overcome him.  It will overpower his will and his lazziness will rule his life.

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