There be four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceeding wise:…
These words teach that wisdom is not measurable by physical magnitude. The elephantine and prodigious body may hardly have a soul at all. Wisdom — wisdom alone — is the true standard of measurement. The humblest life is greater than the sublimest art, and one spark of intellect is infinitely more precious than the most crushing animal strength. It is possible to be little and yet to be exceeding wise. He makes a wise use of nature who regards it as a book of Divine instruction. The ants "prepare their meat in the summer." This is forecast. Some people seem to have no forecast; no power of turning the past into the prophet of the future. The ants know the time of their opportunity, and make the best of it. Every man has a summer. Life hath but one summer, as hath the rolling year. The conies "make their houses in the rock." The tenant is weak, the habitation is strong. There is a law of compensation. In the universe there is a law of what I may term complement, a law which makes up to men, somehow, the thing that is wanting. Man must always look out of himself for this complemental quantity. God provides the Rock for the conies, and God provides a Rock for all weakness. The locusts "come forth all of them by bands." A very beautiful and practical republic. They have no king, but every one of them has a little bit of kingliness in himself. Here I find combination, co-operation, going together, moving in bands. God hath called us to unity, co-operation. One man is not as good as another. There are men who cannot go in bands. The spider "taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' houses." This means skill, and patience, and progress. Every man is set upon an ascending scale of human life. All the Divine movement is an upward movement. In all labour there is profit. The whole study becomes an argument. If God has given such wisdom to insects, how much more will He give it to men? If God commends so distinctly the right use of instinct, how bitterly will He complain of the abuse of reason!
(J. Parker, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: