The Privileged Life: The Incredible World of Spiders

“The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.” Proverbs 30:28

I came very close to swallowing a live black widow spider. 

Several years ago, I bought a large container of fabulous red grapes and was joyfully munching on them when I noticed skinny black legs on a stem. Using a fork, I scooped the little varmint into a plastic sandwich bag, flipped it over, and spotted the red hourglass…belonging to a wiggling male spider. He was summarily dispatched to spider heaven with a quick smash. I’m not arachnophobic, but I’m sure glad this one didn’t wind up in my mouth. Ew.

Are you afraid of spiders? Most of the time, I find them fascinating. They are incredible artisans in God’s gallery of creativity, and so much is still unknown about them. Just how can this teeny creature, with a speck-sized brain, weave a beautiful circle or funnel? How does it make some strands sticky and some to be traversed? And, just like snowflakes, no two webs are exactly alike.1

With almost 50,000 different species, spiders show up everywhere in the world, as noted in the Scripture verse above. Among the scariest is the South American goliath bird-eating spider, a tarantula that can get as big as a dinner plate and weigh as much as a hockey puck!2 I’ve seen a dead one in Ecuador (see the photo below), and I’ve also encountered a live tarantula while hiking in the wilds of Arkansas…I gave it a wide berth.

We seem to have quite a few spiders making their home with us, mostly confined to our basement (commonly known as “cellar spiders”). Another kind of “daddy longlegs” critters known as “harvestmen” are active right now, too, although they’re not really spiders—they belong to a different quadrant of the arachnid kingdom known as opiliones. I remember my grandmother’s house had scores of them in leggy clusters around the eaves, making the roofline look as if it had frizzy hair underneath. 

Unless you’re Spiderman or Wilbur the Pig (Charlotte’s Web), most folks get the creeps from spiders. Just watch one in a web, jumping on whatever victim gets caught, wrapping it up for a midnight snack. Moviemakers prey on those fears with frightening scenes like the ones featuring cave tarantulas in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark or the horrible Shelob in Lord of the Rings

Fortunately, most spiders are rather harmless to humans. We can rest easy, too—the urban legend about swallowing lots of spiders in a year is just a myth, according to Scientific American.3 Spiders like to avoid us as much as we like to avoid them.

This week, if you’re privileged to see a spider or a web, take a moment to reflect on God’s incredible creation of this much-maligned creature. Like all beings with life and breath, spiders praise their Creator, reflecting His artistry in their handiwork. They are revered in Scripture (Proverbs 30:24) among little things that are “exceedingly wise.”

Give thanks to our Lord for spiders and their ingenuity…although it’s okay if you only want to admire them from a distance!

Glorious Creator, how we marvel at Your unimaginable genius! Your knowledge is too high for us…we stand in awe at how You have crafted all things on earth. May we see Your power and glory in the lowliest of creatures. May we honor You by blessing mankind as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

1 https://www.livescience.com/is-every-spiderweb-unique.html

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goliath_birdeater

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-people-swallow-8-spiders-a-year-while-they-sleep1/

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Like a high-wire performer, this orbweaver spun its web like a graceful dancer outside our window.
Here’s the black widow I came close to swallowing with my grapes!
A “Big Orange” spider in Tennessee!
This is a “harvestman,” an arachnid in the opilione family…I saw hundreds while hiking over the weekend….
A visitor on my computer…maybe I was playing too much spider solitaire, ha!
A very dead Birdeater spider in an Ecuador exhibit….
This little critter was missing a leg…but still managed to nimbly climb up the side of a car…

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