Small but Wise Rock Hyraxes

A foundational Scripture passage – Proverbs 30:24-28

 “Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer; The rock hyraxes are not mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks; The lizard you may grasp with the hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.”

The corresponding Scripture passage for us humans is this:

 “ … Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”[1]

As we apply to humans what is said about these four “small” animals, we will see that wisdom is essentially having the aptitude to recognize and compensate for our human limitations.  Notice that the proverb says: “Four things are small on the earth, BUT ….” Ants are not strong, BUT …” “Hyraxes are not powerful, BUT …” “Locusts have no king, BUT …” “Lizards can be seized with the hand, BUT ….” Each is small and weak, BUT through God-given wisdom their very weakness is made into a strength.  This should remind us of what the Lord said to the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  And Paul’s response was: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses … for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[2]

We need to recognize our weakness, find contentment with the “smallness” of our humanity – that is the humility component; and then seek God for the wisdom which turns that very weakness into strength – again the “Humility – Wisdom Connection”.

 The Rock Hyraxes

Next we turn to the ROCK HYRAXES.[3]  Let’s read what the proverb said about these small but wise creatures: “The rock hyraxes are not mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks.” Why do they “make their houses in the rocks”?  Psalm 104:18 tells us: “High in the mountains live the wild goats, and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.”[4]  So we see that the “smallness” or weakness of the rock hyraxes is that they “are not mighty people” – these rabbit-like creatures are lacking in natural defenses and quite vulnerable to attacks from predators.[5]  But their God-given wisdom is that they have the instinct to take refuge in the rocks.

Christ, Our Rock

As with all of these four “small but wise” creatures, we too need to acknowledge our weaknesses and appropriate the Lord’s provision.  And the provision of the Lord, for those who are humble enough to believe and receive Him, is Christ.  Christ as our Rock is a concept introduced by Moses in the Old Testament[6] and confirmed by the apostle Paul in the New Testament.[7] Isaiah said: “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”[8] And these are the words of David:

  • “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”[9]
  • “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.”[10]
  • “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”[11]
  • “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.”[12]
  • “Blessed be the LORD, my rock….”[13]

Throughout his life, David was assailed by many enemies – foreign armies, other kings, at times, his own subjects, and even one of his own sons.[14]  He was a man who had to learn how to seek refuge in the Lord, his Rock.  Just one example, which affords a vivid picture, is when he took refuge from his arch-enemy, Saul, in the Cave of Adullam.  Along with David, the writer to the Hebrews tells us that other ancient “heroes of faith” – “men of whom the world was not worthy” – also overcame by “wandering in caves”.[15]

As human beings, we are vulnerable to various spiritual, emotional, and physical attacks, and much of the time, we can feel as defenseless and weak as rock hyraxes.  But Christ is our Rock; and He Himself has invited us to “abide” or live in Him.”  As the rock hyraxes “make their houses in the rocks”, we need to abide or live in Christ, who is our Rock. But what does it mean to “abide” or live in Christ?

Well, when Jesus invited us to “abide” or “live” in Him, He did so using a parable in order to help us understand what He meant. He said: Abide[16] in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” [17] The branch simply must continue to remain in the Vine, and it will draw its life from the Vine.  In other words, we must live by faith – trust in and dependence upon Christ.  The prophet, Habakkuk, gives insight regarding this when he says: “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”[18] Here is that “Humility – Wisdom Connection” once again:  Those who are proud refuse to live by dependence upon Christ; and consequently are “on their own” when dealing with Satan’s attacks and the common adversities in life.  But those who are humble receive the righteousness which comes from God[19] because they live by their faith, that is, their trust in and dependence upon Christ. There are a couple things the apostle Paul mentions in his second letter to the Corinthians which reinforce this concept.  He wrote: “We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us. But this happened so that we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God, who raises the dead.  From such terrible dangers of death, He saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in Him that He will save us again.”[20] The key?  “That we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God… and place our hope in Him….”

The other thing Paul shared with the Corinthians is something we have already mentioned:  The Lord said to the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for (My) power is perfected in (your) weakness.” And Paul’s response was: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses … for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[21] This was true with the four “small but wise” creatures, as well as, with the apostle Paul: Through God-given wisdom their very weaknesses were made into strengths.  Why?  Because they acknowledged their God-given weaknesses and human limitations and then appropriated God’s provision, that is, the life and power that come from abiding in Christ. Paul was able to say: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”[22]  Likewise, we also need to “tap into” the wisdom of “abiding in Christ”.  For as Paul said, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”[23]

* * * * * * *

“The Small But Wise Rock Hyraxes” is an excerpt from the eBook “Facing the Future”. See the corresponding eBook and Audio Message on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications© 2013

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

* * * * * * *


[1] 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

[3] (Hebrew) shaphan: (Hyrax Syriacus).   Various translations:  Conies (KJV, NIV), rock badgers (GWT).  It is definitely of the hyrax species, and it definitely lives in the rocks – thus I think Rock Hyrax is the best rendering.  Of interest to me, because I lived in South Africa, this is the animal the Afrikaans refer to as a dassie (Procavia Capensis) Cape Hyrax or Rock Hyrax.

[4] New Living Translation

[5] Their predators are snakes, eagles, buzzards, leopards, dogs, mongoose.

[6] Exodus 17:6, Deuteronomy 32:4, 30, 31, 37

[7] I Corinthians 10:4

[8] Isaiah 26:4

[9] Psalm 18:2

[10] Psalm 61:2

[11] Psalm 62:2

[12] Psalm 71:3

[13] Psalm 144:1

[14] Absalom

[15] Hebrews 11:38

[16] (Greek) meno: continue, remain, abide.  Thayer and Smith Bible Dictionary.

[17] John 15:4-5

[18] Habakkuk 2:4

[19] Romans 1:17, 3:21-22

[20] II Corinthians 1:9-10 Good News Translation

[21] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

[22] Philippians 4:13

[23] Acts 17:28

“Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:28)
…read more

Your one-time, or monthly contributions will be processed through PayPal’s secure payment gateway.

Share Post:

Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith