“The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Ps. 19:9–10 ESV)
When the Bible speaks about God and salvation, it tells the truth. It also tells the truth when it speaks about the natural world—like honey.
A Missouri politician once received accolades for this statement: “You can’t make honey and sting at the same time.” That sounds profound and clever. But is it true?
Years ago, while logging, I was raiding a bee tree one brisk Montana morning; it was probably 10oF. We had cut a big ponderosa pine the day before. It was hollow, and in the hollow was a bee hive.
The next morning I sawed a “window” in the side of the trunk where we figured the honey would be. We pried out the immense slab of tree trunk. There was a huge mass of honeycomb and honey. A few bees zipped out at us—but immediately seized up in the cold and fell on the crusted snow. We had a couple of big boxes lined with plastic. We began to scoop out what came to over 50 pounds of honey.
To mix pleasure with business, as I scooped the goo into the boxes, I smeared a glob of it into my mouth. Very good. But wait—ouch! Whether a well-developed larva or a real bee, it got me, right under the tongue. It swelled almost until I couldn’t breathe. I felt like a C-clamp was gripping my temples. I couldn’t eat my lunch later that day—tongue was too big to chew my food. That’s all another story.
But here’s the point: wouldn’t you say a bee inside an active hive is somehow “making honey”?
And I sure got stung.
So, what does this do to the politician’s claim that you can’t make honey and sting at the same time? Maybe politicians shade the truth so much that even their observations about nature need to be taken with caution. (I realize that many would say the same, and worse, about preachers.)
On the other hand, when (then) Cassius Clay said, “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” that was the honest truth.
One thing is certain: God’s Word tells the truth, and the knowledge of God it gives us through faith in Christ is sweet—even sweeter than honey.
This reflection originally appeared in a slightly different form in The Voice,the monthly newsletter of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lindenhurst, Illinois, where Dr. Yarbrough serves.