One fine day in winter some ants were busy drying their store of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently up came a grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains. “For,” she said, “I’m simply starving.” The ants stopped work for a moment, though this was against their principles. “May we ask,” said they, “what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect a store of food for the winter?” “The fact is,” replied the grasshopper, “I was so busy singing that I hadn’t the time.” “Well, if you spent the summer singing,” replied the ants, “you can’t do better than to spend the winter dancing.” And they chuckled, and went on with their work.
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.
Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer…
What is a sluggard?
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Sluggishness is slow, slothful laziness..
It is opposite of diligence and hard work.
When the Proverbs say to “go to the ant,” he is telling a lazy man to look at their opposite. Proverbs says that it is wise to observe the ways of the tiny ant. An insect, of all things! Usually when Scripture talks about insects, it is in a less favorable light. Gnats, flies, locusts, bees, hornets, grasshoppers, insects in general—they are usually demonstrating acts of war, judgment, pain, sorrow. Even when spiders are mentioned (as being in kings’ palaces, or as someone’s trust being as flimsy as a spider web), they are not mentioned particularly favorably… even though I think culturally we consider spiders to be creative, clever, resourceful, and good. Maybe I don’t want them in my house, but I definitely want them in my garden… so there’s that to consider!
But what is interesting about ants in Scripture is that they are only mentioned favorably. They are known as being planners, hard workers, strong, wise, not needing to be bossed around but rather seamlessly working together for the good of their community.
Sometimes when I have a child not wanting to do the work that has been put before them, I can cheerfully remind them (with a wink and a grin) to “go to the ant, you sluggard! Be wise!” and they will remember to attack their jobs with a pleasant countenance and strong muscles. I sometimes remind myself of this same thing. Like when I don’t feel like changing the bed sheets, or cooking dinner, or prepping lesson plans. I too need to go to the ant! I need to seek wisdom! I need to turn away from the ways of a sluggard.
Nimble little ants
You flock in groups
You flock as troops
You search everywhere in quest for dine
Without a shiver running down spine
You pick from soil, you pick from roots
You climb tall trees to catch the fruits
You haul bigger things here and there
Even my sugar you do not spare
You work so hard while the sky is dry
To kick hunger out when ugly clouds cry.
Keen little ants
You work together to attain a goal
And carry out tasks with body and soul
Believing in each other, you stick and cling
And without a penny, your riches are of the king
You have a colony guarded by soldiers
And a queen you save from dangers
You capture slaves to reinforce workers
In a world of cutters farming to feed others
You farm for soldiers
You farm for workers
Queen needs food
Pupae need food
So many to feed, no time to rest
You work day and night to give your best.
Valiant little ants
You dig, you crawl
You climb, you haul
You rove underground
You journey on land
While on a quest
You match abreast
With flawless braveness
And premium eagerness
With just a sting
You shoo the jungle’s king
and without a sword
You get enemies floored.
Learn from ants, so He says,
For they are incredible in a million ways.
So as we go through another day of education together, and another week at home with our families, let us remember to consider the ways of the wee little ant: who works surprisingly hard, who does not give up easily, who doesn’t rely on bossiness but rests in their diligent frame. Turn away from the folly of the grasshopper, and pursue the wisdom of the ant!