By Allen S. Dvorak
It was early in the morning and the sun was just coming over the horizon; dawn was breaking with all of her quiet grace. The temperature had dropped enough the night before that the grass was covered with tiny beads of moisture. Peering out of the glass patio doors in the dining room, I saw something in my back yard that I would like to share with you.
In the sunlight I could see that the entire yard (I mean all of it!) was covered with spiders’ webs. Their white strands appeared to form a large, complete net over the whole back yard. Evidently the webs had caught some of the moisture in the air and they sparkled, first here and then there, as the sun was reflected in these drops of moisture. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
As I stood at the patio doors, wondering at the simple beauty of the sight, it dawned on me (no pun intended) that, despite the beauty of the whole scene, there was a sinister element to the picture. I had been looking from the viewpoint of a human who could destroy any spider’s web with the most casual movement of my limbs. But those webs had not been spun for me – they were created in anticipation of catching some of the numerous small insects which venture out at night and the early morning hours. From a “bug’s eye view,” these webs, regardless of how beautiful they might be to the human eye, represented a danger which could very easily be a fatal one.
A spider is a predator – a very cleaver one too! He carefully prepares a trap and waits for his prey to become ensnared in the extremely strong, sticky strands of his web. His victims come to him; he does not have to pursue them. When they have fatigued themselves by their struggle to escape the web which holds them, he quietly kills and devours them. As I thought about this web further, it occurred to me that Satan is quite similar to the spider!
(1) Like the spider, Satan is also a predator – he preys on human beings. The apostle Peter indicated that Satan is a predator when he likened him to a roaring lion, one of the most fear-inspiring predators on this earth. The Devil is our adversary and his object is to “devour us,” to destroy us in an eternal hell. It is for that very reason that Peter also counseled his readers to be vigilant – watchful of the danger that Satan presents (1 Pet. 5:8).
(2) Satan lays his snares in much the same fashion as the spider. When the spider spins his web, he frequently places it in such a way as to intercept the natural path of his prey. Of course, his presence is a warning, so he hides himself or lurks near the edge of the web where he is less evident. Satan has studied his prey and knows the weaknesses common to men. He knows how to lay his snares so that they will be encountered by men. And, like the spider, he doesn’t advertise his presence so that his victims often do not suspect his work in their demise. Only after they have been enslaved by the sin which was so tempting do they come to realize whose purpose the trap serves. Edward M. Bounds wrote, “The devil’s great device, his masterpiece of temptation is to destroy faith in his own existence.”(1)
Paul described covetousness (greed) as a snare, indicating that it led to destruction (1 Tim. 6:9- 10). Satan is a schemer -the traps he uses look so innocent and inviting that he fools many men into thinking that they are harmless. The anticipation of pleasure has invited men to drink alcohol, take drugs, steal, commit fornication, etc. — all snares used by Satan. Just like the spider, Satan cannot force his prey into the web of sin, but his victims commit themselves to the traps of sin (James 1:13-15).
(3) Neither Satan nor the spider are benefitted by light. It was the rising sun which revealed the webs of the spiders to me. The spider thrives on anonymity. He wishes his web to be invisible to his prey and so darkness is his ultimate friend. Satan also loves darkness. He wishes for men to be ignorant of his machinations so that he may take them captive at his will. If he appears as wholesome, it is a disguise (2 Cor. 11: 14-15). Fortunately, the light of God’s word exposes the wiles of Satan for what they are and the careful student of the Bible may discern and avoid the snares of Satan.
One significant difference between these two predators is that when a fly gets entangled in the web of the spider, he usually does not escape. For the man who has been entangled in Satan’s web of sin, God offers a way of escape. It is frequently difficult once the strands of worldliness have tightened around a man, but in Christ there is freedom! Beware of our spiritual predator!
1. Edward M. Bounds, Satan, His Personality, Power and Overthrow (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1963), p. 112. Quoted by Lynn Walker, Supernatural Power and the Occult (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, n.d.), p. 17.
Guardian of Truth XXX; 10, p. 308
May 15, 1986