6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and grows as we immerse ourselves in His word. The surprising places the word points us to in order to grow in wisdom are a reminder that the world and everything in it – even the ant – belongs to God, for His glory and His purposes.
The observation and consideration of an ant’s ways, can lead us to wisdom if we will learn and act on what we see. There are a few things we learn from the ant. Firstly, it leads itself (v7), “it has no commander, no overseer or ruler.” In other words it does not rely on someone else to lead it, motivate it or keep it accountable. Secondly, the ant knows when to be prudent and when it’s time to gather (v8). Its work ethic and its consumption is driven by an understanding of time. It works hard and saves when appropriate and it gathers at the right time. This I take it, means the ant is consistent in his work, according to times and seasons. In other words, his work ethic is consistent. Thirdly, it’s implied from verse 9 that the ant knows how much rest is good and when it’s time to get up. It is never seen to be sleeping too long or questioned about its work ethic. Who would have guessed that observing an ant could shine such a penetrating light on what God expects of people?
This proverb is directed at the sluggard (the lazy person) but is a good reminder for us all. It’s a reminder that God has created us to be productive and fruitful; to be wise and ethical in our work and to use our time well. How much more so for the Christian whose higher purpose is to serve God and bring Him glory. Although the ant is not led by another, we are led by God and should therefore be accountable to God to lead ourselves (humanly speaking), work hard and steward our time. It’s to this end we must pray that God would strengthen and empower us by His Spirit to live fruitfully for His glory.