There be four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceeding wise:…
I. The locusts of Syria and Arabia belong to the class of wise little folks that know how to COMBINE AND CONQUER (Joel 2:7). Like grasshoppers, these resistless little creatures have long, gauzy, overlapping wings for sailing through the air, and a pair of long, jointed hind legs for leaping over obstacles on the ground. They are born in millions, and swarm in immense numbers among the hot sands of the desert. No sooner can the young locusts leap with ease than they marshal themselves in companies, like so many regiments of soldiers; and, by some unerring law of instinct, begin to march in one direction towards a fixed goal. They march steadily through valleys clad with living green and plains studded with brilliant wild flowers; and after they have gone the land is desolate as winter at Christmas. They climb walls and leap ditches like conquering armies millions strong; and in a single day blooming gardens are turned into barren wilderness. The trees are barked, vegetables and flowers are eaten up, vines are laid waste, and every green thing is consumed. Mountains they scale with amazing swiftness; they run up the faces of precipices, they cross rivers, and even penetrate walls of fire! Now, it is of these destructive creatures that Agur speaks. Strange that a good and wise man should ask us to imitate such voracious animals! But, mark you, he invites us to imitate their good qualities only. They are orderly and united. "The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands." There is no strife in their camp; they fight desperately, but they do not fight among themselves. Peace reigns at home. How quietly do these small, clever creatures preach to us of orderliness and union! They have no self-will, no egotistical conceits, no personal hobbies. Sour and sulky locusts are not known. Wanton and wayward locusts are never seen. The principle is, union is strength. Little people can work wonders, if they will only unite. If all the members of one family were united on the side of reverence and truth, they could put down all the lying and swearing in a village. And if all the members of the Church loved the Lord Jesus passionately, and united for the grand purpose of saving lost men and women, soon, very soon, the whole world would be brought within the fold of the Good Shepherd.
II. The last weak and wise creature mentioned by Agur is the spider, or rather the LIZARD. "The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces." The Hebrew word for "lizard" is a curious and rare word, and the translators of the Bible thought it meant the spider, because spiders resemble lizards in these respects, that they are small and clever, ambitious and daring, and frequently found in royal houses. Moreover, it is better, because more accurate, to translate the whole verse: The lizard thou canst catch with thy hands (so small is it), yes is it found in kings' palaces (so clever and ambitious is it). Lizards are charming little creatures, bright-yellow as the golden canary, and speckled like the young frog. They are wonderfully quick, nimble, and wise. They can run over the smoothest surfaces, and can even creep along ceilings like flies. Notwithstanding their littleness, they climb to the highest positions. Their power lies in their activity and agility, in their energy and alertness. Let all young folks imitate them, and they will rise to honour and influence. Dull, drowsy, humdrum people climb no mountains of difficulty, and sojourn all their days in the valley of humiliation. Success of the noblest kind has always behind it energetic toil, skilful, persistent labour. We cannot be lazy and good or great. Sir William Jones is the name of a great Englishman who could speak twenty-eight languages, while occupying one of the highest legal positions in India. In youth he was marvellously energetic and industrious, quick-witted, quick-footed, quick-handed, and daring; he did all things well, and triumphed over all difficulties. Dr. Thackeray, his tutor, used to say of him, "If that boy were left naked and friendless on Salisbury plain, he would find his way to fame and riches." And let us remember that the palace of the Great King, in the city of shining gold, can only be entered by active, energetic Christians. However little we are, however weak, we may climb high.
(J. Moffat Scott.)
Parallel VersesKJV: There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: