Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:24

Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise:
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Riddle;   Thompson Chain Reference - Instinct;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Locust, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ant;   Proverb, the Book of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Coney;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Ant;   Coney;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Proverb;   Proverbs, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Coney;   Proverbs, Book of;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Four;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Four;   Wisdom;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Coney;   Lulab;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

There be four things - Of which it is said, they are very little but very wise. 1. The ants. 2. The rabbits. 3. The locusts. 4. The spider.

  1. The ants show their wisdom by preparing their meat in the summer, seeking for it and storing it when it may be had; not for winter consumption, for they sleep all that time; but for autumn and spring. See the note on Proverbs 6:6; (note). The ants are a people; they have their houses, towns, cities, public roads, etc. I have seen several of these, both of the brown and large black ant.
  • The rabbits act curiously enough in the construction of their burrows; but the word שפן shaphan probably does not here mean the animal we call coney or rabbit. It is most likely that this is what Dr. Shaw calls the Daman - Israel; a creature very like a rabbit, but never burrowing in the ground, but dwelling in clefts and holes of rocks.
  • The locusts. These surprising animals we have already met with and described. Though they have no leader, yet they go forth by troops, some miles in circumference, when they take wing.
  • 4. The spider. This is a singularly curious animal, both in the manner of constructing her house, her nets, and taking her prey. But the habits, etc., of these and such like must be sought in works on natural history.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-30.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Exceeding wise - Some prefer the reading of the Septuagint and Vulgate: “wiser than the wise.” The thought, in either case, turns upon the marvels of instinct, which, in their own province, transcend the more elaborate results of human wisdom.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-30.html. 1870.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    5

    "There are four things which are little upon the earth,

    But they are exceeding wise:

    The ants are a people not strong,

    Yet they provide their food 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 lizard taketh hold with her hands,

    Yet is she in king's palaces."

    Other translations give us "badgers"[21] for `conies' in Proverbs 30:26, or "rock-rabbits,"[22] "mormats,"[23] or "the rabbit."[24] Why don't we just stay with the rendition, "conies," as in the NIV?[25]

    On Proverbs 30:28, the KJV has: "The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king's palaces."[26] Nearly all the recent renditions give us 'lizard' here instead of spider; but, there is no doubt that this first line bears the translation, "taketh hold with her hands";[27] and that fits 'spider' a hundred times better than it fits `lizard.' Add to that the fact that `holding a lizard in one's hand' is rather ridiculous, even for men, and absolutely impossible as far as women are concerned! All in all, we overwhelmingly prefer the KJV in this verse.

    We should not overlook the lesson here. Although the creatures mentioned here are very small and weak, God has endowed them with instinctive wisdom that perpetuates them. In contrast with that, man himself, who is also week and small, has been endowed with reason and intelligence; and if he would be guided by true wisdom `from God' as faithfully as these exceedingly small creatures are guided by what God gave them, the happiness and continuity of man would be prolonged.

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    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-30.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    There be four things which are little upon the earth,.... Small in bulk, that have little bodies, are the lesser sort of animals;

    but they are exceeding wise; show a great deal of art and wisdom in what they do; or "but they are wise, made wise"F5חכמים מחכמים "sapientia, sapientia imbuta"; Heb. "sapientificata", Piscator, Gejerus. by the instinct of nature, by the direction of Providence, by which they do things that are surprising. Some versions, that have no regard to the points, read the words, "but their are wiser than the wise"F6"Sapientiora sapientibus", so Sept. V. L. Arabic and Syriac versions; "sapientia superant, vel prudentissimos", Tigurine version. ; than even wise men; wise men may learn much from the least of creatures; see Job 12:7.

    Copyright Statement
    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-30.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    There are four [things which are] little upon the earth, but they [are] very n wise:

    (n) They contain great doctrine and wisdom.
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    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-30.html. 1599-1645.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Proverbs 30:24 There be four [things which are] little upon the earth, but they [are] exceeding wise:

    Ver. 24. There be four things.] Made up thus in quaternions (as the 119th Psalm is in octonaries, and those in an alphabetical order), for help of memory.

    Which are little upon the earth, but exceeding wise.] God is maximus in minimis, very much seen in the smallest creatures. In formicis maior anima quam in elephantis, in nanis quam in gigantibus, The soul is more active in ants than elephants, in dwarfs than in giants. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" [Zechariah 4:10]

    “A cane non magno saepe tenetur aper.” - Ovid.

    The creatures, next to the Scriptures, are the best layman’s books, whereby we may learn to know God and ourselves savingly. "Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the heaven, and they shall tell thee." [Job 12:7]

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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-30.html. 1865-1868.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Comparatively to other brute creatures. They act very wisely and providently, not from any reason which they have, but by the direction of Divine Providence, which secretly guides them to do those things for their own preservation which are most agreeable to the rules of wisdom. The design of this observation is either,

    1. To commend wisdom to us, and to teach us to imitate the providence of these creatures, as we are provoked to imitate their diligence, Proverbs 6:6. Or,

    2. To keep us from being proudly conceited of our own wisdom, because we are either equalled or exceeded therein by the unreasonable creatures in the wise conduct of their affairs. Or,

    3. To direct us to whom to resort for wisdom when we want and desire it, even to that God who is able to inspire wisdom even into the brute creatures.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-30.html. 1685.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    little upon the earth = earth"s little ones.

    exceeding wise. Hebrew "wise, made wise". Figure of speech Polyptoton. App-6. The Septuagint and Vulg, render "wiser than the wise".

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    These files are public domain.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-30.html. 1909-1922.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
    little
    Job 12:7
    exceeding wise
    Heb. wise, made wise.
    Reciprocal: Proverbs 6:16 - six;  Proverbs 30:15 - There

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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:24". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-30.html.