I’m so glad that God created animals. It’s hard to imagine a world without animals, but I think it would be a dull place. I believe that one of the reasons God put animals on this earth is to teach us certain things. They sometimes serve as examples or object lessons, on how we should or shouldn’t be.
Last year I did a blog post on this topic (you can check out the first one, here) and in that post I mentioned that I would eventually do a Part 2. So here it is.
Here are 7 (more) animals that teach us important spiritual or life lessons.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t like spiders. They’re ugly and even though they usually mind their own business, I have an irrational fear of spiders falling on me when I sleep.
Creepy or not, we can learn a few things from spiders. They work diligently at building their web, they don’t give up, even when we destroy all of their work.
Even though they are hated and unwelcome, that doesn’t stop them, they continue on toward their goal, which is something we can learn from.
In Proverbs 28, the spider is written about as one of four things that is “small on the earth, but exceedingly wise.” I should state, many bible versions say “lizard” instead of spider. Scholars are divided on the true meaning of the original word. But either one works for the following verse, as both the lizard and the spider can be found in palaces.
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.
Proverbs 30:28 (KJV)
I think there are a few things we can take away from that verse. In a practical sense, diligence and skillful work will take us places. The bible says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings…” (Proverbs 22:29)
Something else that comes to mind when I think about a spider (or lizard) in a palace is: that ugly little creature is not supposed to be there. But it’s there, hanging on to the wall. Like the spider, we are earthly creatures that don’t deserve to be in the King’s Palace. But if we draw near to God and hold on to His promises, we can go from earthly creatures to being in the presence of the King of Heaven, members of God’s household.
2. ROCK BADGER
The rock badger is another one of the animals listed in Proverbs 30 as small but exceedingly wise. “The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags” (Proverbs 30:26)
This little guy is small, weak and defenseless, but he is very watchful and vigilant, something that we are commanded to be. Like the rock badger, we too have adversaries prowling around, and we need a place of safety and refuge.
The rock badger shrewdly finds safety in the rock. Wise people find safety and salvation in the true rock; Jesus.
Elephants are only mentioned indirectly in the bible, but I wanted to include them in this list, because I adore elephants and I think we can learn a lot from them.
Elephants are relational and family-oriented, and that is the way we were designed to be. In our case, family doesn’t necessarily mean blood relatives, but God wants us to be relational and part of a community.
Elephants are also cooperative, they respect their elders, and are said to even mourn their dead. We too should respect our elders, and of course one of the 10 commandments is “honor your mother and father”… something that many people forget. Thank you God, for the elephant!
Donkeys don’t have the best reputation, they are thought of as stubborn, loud and not very smart. I did some reading on donkeys, and surprisingly, they are said to be very intelligent, with an incredible memory and generally a calmer demeanor than horses.
Donkeys are also very hardy and sturdy, they endure much, as they have been used as working animals for thousands of years. We too need to be able to endure hardship, and continue to faithfully serve others.
Jesus chose the donkey for His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Many people would ask, why a donkey? I think there are a few reasons. It was a clear fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy:
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The donkey was also known as an animal of peace, whereas horses were associated with war at that time. Although even prestigious people used donkeys as transportation, I think it’s clear that a donkey is a simple, humble creature. So it’s no accident that Jesus chose the donkey, because the first time around, Jesus came as a humble, suffering servant, not the “conquering King,” even though He was, and is, the true King above all kings.
If God can use a donkey, God can use anyone
Not only did Jesus use the simple donkey, but if you remember in the Old Testament, God chose to use a donkey to get through to Balaam (a supposed “spiritual person”) who was stubbornly disobedient. Balaam wasn’t able to see the angel who was blocking the road, but the donkey saw the angel. If you’re familiar with this passage, you know that when Balaam beat the donkey, God opened the donkey’s mouth and it miraculously spoke to Balaam, who eventually was able to realize what was happening.
It’s funny that a man like Balaam, who was a famous diviner, someone who is supposed to be spiritually savvy, had less spiritual sense than a donkey.
And just as God used the donkey, God uses ordinary, simple people who are willing to serve.
The Gazelle is mentioned many times in the bible, and it is known for its swiftness, grace, beauty and ability to escape being caught.
We can learn from the Gazelle about being alert and about being quick to run from possible traps or things that keep us in bondage.
“…save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.”
We can see by reading the previous few verses that the writer of Proverbs was talking about financial traps. Sometimes we can get ourselves into a bind, when it comes to finances. In verse 2, it says, if you are snared or caught in the words of your mouth, then save yourself… In other words, be careful that you don’t get yourself into a financial trap by something you say or promise. Beware of the snare of financial debt.
Popular financial expert Dave Ramsey calls that “Gazelle intensity.” He says, “The only real way to beat debt is to be intense! You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to fight for survival. You’ve got to run for your life!”
The cat is another animal that is not mentioned in the bible, at least not the house-cat variety. Big cats, like leopards and lions are mentioned.
The cat has always been my favorite animal. I love all animals, but there’s something about cats that melts my heart. I think we can learn many things from cats. They are funny (proof that God has a sense of humor). They are intuitive. They are super affectionate. And they enjoy life.
They are good at entertaining themselves. They are fun and adventurous. And yes, they are also very good at resting. They find that nice, warm patch of sunlight, to bask in, or take a catnap.
Most of the other animals teach us practical lessons about working hard, persevering and sensible things like that. But God does want us to rest and enjoy life too, as we can see in Ecclesiastes:
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.”
I almost didn’t include the dog, because this post is written from a biblical perspective, and let’s be real here – there are many references to dogs in the bible, and almost all of them are very negative.
So, apparently, the ancient Hebrews were not fond of dogs. However, I think that dogs at that time were mostly wild dogs (more like wolves), not the domesticated dogs we know and love today. They were scavengers, which is why the scriptures mention dogs eating dead bodies.
Modern day dogs, trained and domesticated are arguably the most popular of all animals (at least in the western world.) So it would be weird to not talk about them and the qualities we can learn from them.
One of the things I love most about dogs is how excited and happy they are to see you, when you walk in the door. Their enthusiasm – especially younger dogs – is over the top. They zealously love their owners so much, they just can’t contain themselves.
That reminds me that Jesus doesn’t want us to be lukewarm. He said “I wish that you were hot or cold.” So dogs can be a reminder to love God and others wholeheartedly, and to not take people for granted.
Dogs are also enthusiastic about life in general. Just going for a walk is a huge treat for them, I love their excitement for life. Life is a gift, and I think God wants us to appreciate it as such.
Dogs are also very forgiving. More forgiving than many people. Another lesson for us.
Lastly, dogs love unconditionally. They love us, faults and all. Even when we get mad at them, or accidentally step on their foot or something, they don’t stop loving us. They remain our faithful friend.
It really is amazing how animals have emotions, and such a capacity to love.
Let’s learn from their good qualities and thank God for them!
If you have any thoughts on this topic, or anything you want to add, I’d love to hear it. Please leave your comments below!
Blessings, you all!
Spider: 9-1-07 705a via photopin cc, Rock Badger:David Snelling via Flickr cc, Elephants: Diana Robinson via Flickr cc, Donkey:bagsgroove via Flickr cc, Gazelles: Donald Macauley, via Wikimedia Commons, cc, Dog: Grant Frederiksen via Flickr cc