At Jenny & Robin’s wedding last week, the reading they chose was Proverbs 30:24-28!
“Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes (rock badgers) are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”
– Proverbs 30:24-28
Not really your usual choice of wedding readings I must admit, not 1 Corinthians, nor Ephesians – it doesn’t even mention the word love for goodness sake! So why exactly did these two crazy beans choose such a bizarre reading and does it have anything to do with marriage?
Proverbs is a book of the Bible known as a wisdom book. The proverbs contained within it usually express truths about human behaviour. Such truths help us to gain wisdom as to how we should act. Proverbs is definitely one of my favourite books of the Bible and shares so many interesting insights.
Wisdom is also hugely valuable when starting a marriage. We’re (usually), starting something new – something we have never done before. Where do we start? Who are we going to turn to when we have questions? Scripture is a wonderful place to turn in times of such questions.
So, looking at our reading – this passage of Proverbs highlights four animals that demonstrate attributes that mark them out as wise.
Ants are tiny creatures, but they need to gather up all the food they need for winter ahead of time. They work hard throughout the rest of the year in order to achieve this. This demonstrates great patience and preparedness. They are investing in their future, now. Planning ahead of time. We need to demonstrate patience and forward planning. In a marriage we can do this by being patient with each other, investing in our future by planning when to spend time together and taking time to have important conversations together frequently.
Hyraxes, or rock badgers, are small mammals and quite weak. They are forced to make their homes in the crags, harsh conditions that are certainly not ideal for rock badgers: rocky and cold. But they adapt to their circumstances, and make such an environment work for them. In life, and in marriage, sudden, unexpected changes in our lives can completely throw us off balance, causing frustration, anger or confusion. It is important that we are able to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in; rising to challenges and not allowing a negative situation to get the better of us.
Locusts are usually fairly individual animals, however in certain circumstances they come together and work as a group to achieve their goals. Despite having no leader, they are able to work together in an ordered way, to work efficiently. Being able to work well with other people, especially our husband or wife, is vitally important in getting things done and not creating friction and frustration. Learning how best to work together, without one person having to take control and bark orders, makes for a harmonious life where we can work together and enjoy the tasks we’re completing.
Lizards are pretty small animals, and not really the fastest movers, so they are relatively easy to catch in your own hands. Yet, our reading says they are found in King’s palaces. This tells us that although they can be caught and thrown out they simply keep coming back, keep trying again. But not even just any old house, they keep coming back to palaces. They are crazily resilient, not being put off by setbacks. Throughout life, suffering is inevitable, we will face hurdles. But we must be resilient, always coming back and trying again. We can’t just give up at the first argument, that very clearly goes against the wedding vows: ‘till death we do part’!
So this reading provides us with four wise attributes to strive for within our lives and marriages: patience & forward planning, adaptability, team work and resilience!
Dear God, thank you that your word in the Bible can give us wisdom. Help us to be more patient and forward planning like the ants, more adaptable in difficult situations like the rock badger, better team players like the locusts and more resilient like the lizards. Amen.