Gleanings from the Proverbs – Lessons from Animals – Locusts, the Power of Unity


Proverbs 30:27: The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

Here is a fabulous proverb in fourteen words. It is simple, intriguing, and contains an obscure lesson of great wisdom. Locusts teach us that society is better than individuality, that there is power in numbers and unity. Without a leader, they travel in large, coordinated swarms that still frighten men today. Can you learn their wisdom?

Four little creatures teach powerful lessons (Pr 30:24-28). Here is the desert locust, which inhabits the areas near Israel. The LORD Jehovah gave the desert locust a very unique nature to teach you wisdom, and Solomon revealed this wisdom here for your learning.

The desert locust usually lives a very lonely, quiet, individual, and solitary life. They are extremely shy except for their brief mating encounters. They fly at night and avoid each other, very content at being alone. Rather sluggish by nature, they are quite harmless. But when put in a crowded situation with other locusts, due to ideal ecological circumstances or the search for food, they drastically change to become very social creatures.

This radical change in personality is their unique trait. In addition, their very physiology and colour change to indicate their new temperament. They now want to swarm together, and they do so in very coordinated ways with sometimes billions of locusts involved. So great is this transformation, they were regarded as two separate species until recently!

Scientifically, a locust with its individualistic and reclusive temperament is called solitarious. When it undergoes its great personality change and becomes a very eager social creature, it is scientifically said to be gregarious! We use the word ourselves to describe someone who is very friendly, social, interactive, and enjoying group activities!

Only three 7.6 cm long and weighing two grams, a single locust can eat his weight in food every day! They have a top speed near 32 kmph, and they can cover 120 km in a day. With a few others, they can ravage a country, devouring most edible things in their path.

A swarm of locusts covering 2,000 square miles (about 12, 950 square kilometres) crossed the Red Sea in 1889, and it was estimated to weigh 500,000 tons and contain 250 billion individual locusts. Swarms still occur today and are a serious threat to agriculture from North Africa to Asia.

The blessed God called these creatures His army, and He described their character and destructive capability in great detail (Joel 1:4-7; 2:1-11,25). He sent this army into Egypt once to encourage Pharaoh to let His people Israel go to Canaan. The results were devastating (Ex 10:3-6,12-19)! They darkened the sun and ate every single green thing! He commands the locusts (II Chron 7:13)! And He created their great use of society!

The wisdom to be learned is the advantage of numbers and unity. Society is better than individuality. Solomon taught, “Two are better than one … and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:9-12). Every person with a decent spouse knows that marriage is certainly better than being single (Gen 2:18; Eccl 9:9). This fact is obvious to wise men, regardless of the modern babbling about the blessings and virtue of the single life.

There are four advantages to human society, or the gathering of individuals into a group (Eccl 4:9-12). First, they can share the rewards of labour and prosperity. Second, when one has difficulties, the others can help him. Third, their different abilities are synergistic and result in greater productivity. And fourth, they can defend against greater enemies.

Loners are losers, for their choice of individualism guarantees their perpetual inferiority. God has chosen human society to maximize human potential. Marriage is a wonderful blessing to a single person; a family is a glorious social unit, and so it is with companies, nations, and churches. Careful regard for the vitality of the group is essential wisdom!

We see the purpose of the local church from locusts. Saints join together into a common society for the greater benefits of the group. By Solomon’s four reasons, they can thrive spiritually, when they use one another. And the apostles taught this fact (Acts 2:42-47; Rom 15:1-7,13-14; I Cor 12:13-27; Gal 6:1-2; Eph 4:16; I Thess 5:14; Heb 3:12-13).

We also see the need for a close and unified church. What good is a church divided against itself? It will surely fall, as Jesus taught (Mat 12:25). Division in a family, city, or kingdom will bring certain ruin, so a church must be united (I Cor 1:10). God hates those who sow discord, and they also should be excluded (6:16-19; Mat 18:17; Rom 16:17-18).

Regardless of how you feel about others, you cannot do nearly as much or as well by yourself, as you can with the assistance of others. And you will be a whole lot happier in the exchange, for there is great pleasure in the group dynamics of saints, especially when assisted by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ps 133:1-3). Let God and the locusts be true!

Reader, do you have a locust’s wisdom? Do you understand the value of human society? Are you maximizing your marriage? Promoting your family? Building your church? Enhancing your company? Unifying your nation? Do you know how to modify your individual tendencies to serve the group’s needs? The locust teaches these things, and he does not need a king to force him to do them. He does them by obedience to his Creator!

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