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Cultural Context, An Invalid Argument

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The Wisdom of a Spider

“The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Proverbs 30: 28, KJV)

Yesterday, as I rested in a chair in a corner by the door, I looked up, feeling sleepy. Suddenly, a two-part body with eight legs caught my attention. There it was. I had probably been sitting underneath the spider’s web for a few hours. There were two arachnids in that corner, and one across from me, and I hadn’t noticed them until then. Of course, they had to go, but not just yet. It was still Sabbath, and they hadn’t hurt me in all that time I had been sitting underneath them.

As I gazed up at the spiders, I called to mind this part of a proverb on wisdom, except that I didn’t remember the exact wording in the King James version of the Bible (if any), but considered the meaning of the verse.

I thought of King Solomon, wondering how he came upon this proverb concerning the spider. Perhaps he, like me, often gazed up at a spider hovering above him, that was overlooked by his housekeepers. Perhaps they were in the corner of his room, or in his window, and he observed them in quiet contemplation.

In context, one can understand that the spider is one we can learn from to obtain or develop wisdom, and King Solomon was a wise man, except where he became a fool for women.

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.”

-Proverbs 3: 24-28, KJV

Yesterday I considered how the spider could dwell in the palaces of kings. Perhaps it is because they so often escape the notice of those who are cleaning, or who would take down their webs. How does a spider do so?

The spider escapes notice, because she doesn’t announce herself. She does her work quietly, weaving her web or digging her burrow, and then waits patiently for prey to come by (in the case of many–if not most, but not all spiders, as some are active hunters). She waits quietly. Then, when the prey comes, the spider strikes.

Perhaps we could see prey as opportunity. Though the spider does not announce her presence, nor boast of her skills (spider webs vary from ugly and cloudy to beautiful when covered with dew, but otherwise almost invisible unless the light is reflected just right or one is observing carefully), but waits for opportunity, and then seizes it while it is within reach.

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2, KJV)

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

(Ephesians 5: 15 & 16, NIV)

Alternate text (Ephesians 5:15 &, KJV):

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Picture downloaded from here.