I recently listened to a sermon where, during his message, the Pastor quickly added an intriguing fact surrounding the way Solomon referred to the worker ant as a “her” in Proverbs 6:6. The Pastor went on to say, “science has proven all worker ants are female, how would Solomon know this back in his time? I think God had something to do with that.” And, that’s where he ended it. Hearing this sparked my interest to dig in a little deeper.

To begin, here’s a little background on the Proverbs writer, Solomon. Solomon was the third king of Israel, following King Saul and King David. When he ascended to the throne, he sought after God and God gave him the opportunity to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon humbly acknowledged his inability to rule well and unselfishly asked God for the wisdom he would need to rule God’s people justly. God gave him wisdom and also gave him wealth. Solomon had a great connection with our Heavenly Father. And now Solomon has this great wisdom, not wisdom by human standard, but by God’s. Think about that! Then He goes on to write most of the Proverbs found in the Old Testament. [more on Solomon]

Although he had great wisdom for writing Proverbs, did God just let him run with it solo? I don’t believe so. God maintains supreme authority over every single word used in scripture. This is made pretty clear to us through scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And so lets take a look at the verse, Proverbs 6:6-8

6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

So why doesn’t this verse refer to this particular ant as a he? Because that would be a lie, and you will only find truth in the bible, for the scripture says its impossible for God to lie [Hebrews 6:18 ESV]. All worker ants are truly female. Yes, each and every one. Which means, next time you see an ant carrying a crumb you can tell those with you, “Hey look at Ms. Ant over there carrying that huge morsel all by herself! Then your friend may say, how do you know its not a Mr. Ant? That could make for a great conversation starter!

So who first discovered this through scientific observation. I found out they actually have a word they use for the study of ants, myrmecology. The word myrmecology was coined by William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937), although human interest in the life of ants goes back further, with numerous ancient folk references. The earliest scientific thinking based on observation of ant life was that of Auguste Forel (1848–1931), a Swiss psychologist who initially was interested in ideas of instinct, learning, and society. ~ wikipedia.org

To be honest, I couldn’t find anything that specifically discussed the date the all female workforce was discovered. However, everything I was able to find and research take place between the late 1600s to the mid 1800s.

Here are some comments from this time frame on the study of both ants and bees
(includes bees for purposes of discussion)

William Gould (1715–1799), is described by Horace Donisthorpe (British Myrmecologist) as “the father of British myrmecology”.

“For the generative process which takes place in these last two kinds [n.b.: ants and bees] we are almost entirely indebted to the nice and persevering labours of the elder and the younger Hüber; who have decidely proved that what have hitherto been called neuters are females with undeveloped female organs. ”
~ The Study of Medicine – John Mason Good (1825)
(Elder and the Younger Hüber, 17th Century)

“Swammerdam had announced in his Historia Inecorum Generalis (1669) that the queen, hitherto commonly called the “King of the Bees,” is the only effective female in the hive; that the drones are the males and the workers neuters. This identification rested upon his careful and detailed anatomical examination of each sex. He is positive that the workers have no reproductive organs, though it is now known that they occasionally lay eggs. He remarks that both the queen and the workers possess a sting, while the drones have none, and that in structure and disposition the workers resemble the queen rather than the drones.”

So, based on this research it appears that these scientifically observed contributions were just barely beginning to surface post 16th century. Solomon’s proverbs were penned around 900 B.C., a staggering 2500 years prior, during his reign as king when microscopes were non-existent. So how did he know? Well seeing that scripture is God breathed through the writers of the Old and New Testament, and God created the ant, it would only be natural for scripture to refer to these worker ants as female. Could you find a bricklayer who builds walls but calls them chainlink? It just wouldn’t happen.

Now lets not just end there. God knew this would be talked about and you’ll find a lot about this verse online. So why? He had a purpose for this as he does with all scripture.

Let’s read it again:

6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

While you let that process and swish around in the brain for a moment, I want to share a cool video that shows how people today, possibly with or without knowledge of this scripture, are doing just that – going to the ant and considering her ways.

Three words, God is Amazing! So lets go back to verse, now that its had some time to settle in. Some of us may read this verse and initially begin pointing the finger toward all the lazy people they know or don’t know. But the truth is, that will accomplish nothing. Instead we should always be asking ourselves, what can I take from this to grow in my faith as a Christian. I know there have been times where I’ve been a “sluggard” or “lazy” in my faith walk. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s work to be done and a harvest is coming. Are you satisfied with the work you put into it? Personally, I want to do more and I know I can do more. I already know I’m saved, but I want to do more. I want to make my loving Savior, my God proud of me. Just the other day I prayed for God to start a fire in my soul, and that prayer is being answered. I pray for the Church, for all of us Christ Followers throughout the World to be moved to rise and take our faith to that next level, to go out on a limb, to be always changing and growing in our relationship with Jesus.

I hope you found this encouraging and may God bless you in your walk with him.

About Cole

Completely forgiven and saved by grace. God is good! I use this blog to serve as a platform to share my faith and walk with Jesus. I do not have it all figured out, but I do know this, Jesus is Lord! Please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts.