More Poems & Stories >>




B. A. Ramsbottom



This article, which appeared in the Gospel Standard, was originally given as a prayer meeting address in 1972. This address was the last in a series on this topic.


“Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes” (Song of Solomon 2:15).


I thought I had finished with this last Monday, but there is another point which has been much on my mind upon which I want to speak to you this evening concerning the foxes, the little foxes.


I have spoken to you of people, ungodly people and godly people, and I have spoken to you of inward sins, the foxes within, and the excuse there often is: Is it not a little one? The point that has been much with me is this: there are things, which are lawful in themselves, which are right in themselves, and yet these can become little foxes. The Lord Jesus once spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing; it seems to me also that there can be foxes in sheep’s clothing. Now let us be very clear. There are people who are never found as a little fox themselves, neither could you say that there is any special besetting sin which afflicts them, and yet there is not the tender grape on the vine. The fruit is not on the branch. And this comes exceedingly close. What is it? There is some lawful thing, right in itself, lawful in itself, which carries us away. We are too much occupied with it. It has too much of a place in our heart and in our affections and in our lives, and, before we realize, the vines are spoiled, “for our vines have tender grapes.


Now this comes very close. You say, whatever can this little fox be? Friends, it can be anything, anything that comes between your soul and the Lord. These are the foxes that, like the wolves, appear in sheep’s clothing, and they deceive, and you do not see them before you feel the smart and you realize your barrenness.

It is not the same with two people. One finds that his business affairs begin to lay too much hold on him. The Word of God makes it clear we should be diligent in business, but this begins to take our time, our affec­tions too much, and it becomes a little fox; and the vines are spoiled. It could be a person, a friend, a loved one. It could be our own families, tak­ing too much of our time and our attention and our affections; and the tender grapes are spoiled. It can be such a thing as a lawful hobby. Some people find they are very interested in a certain thing, and that thing is right, nothing wrong about it; but you find that your affections are drawn away. Does not the hymn writer in one place speak on this very point?


We should suspect some danger near,
When we possess delight


Now that thing that is really attracting you, inordinately, more than is necessary!


We should suspect some danger near,
When we possess delight


Our dearest joys, our dearest friends,
The partners of our blood,
How they divide our wavering minds
And leave but half for God


Now that is where the little foxes come in— And leave but half for God.”


Perhaps you wonder why ever I read to you about Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7-14). Well, the little fox came to Asa in a strange way. Affliction was to him a little fox. He was a godly man, and at the beginning of his reign he seemed to be one of the godliest of the kings; and then he had an ill­ness, and it fried him very much. He was diseased in his feet. It seems it was a painful illness; he could not move about so easily as formerly. And what happened? Well, it became a little fox, it worked the wrong way.


As I understand the verses I read to you, he became completely pre­occupied with his trouble and with his illness and with his affliction, and because of this, prayer began to languish. He did not seek the Lord. Al­ways on his mind was himself, his ailment, his affliction, and his doctors. He did not seek the Lord. The tender grapes were spoiled. Whoever would think the sore, painful affliction in the last days of this godly man could be a little fox to spoil the vines? But it did with Asa. And so there is a solemn warning here. Satan can use anything, anything as a little fox.


The trouble with all this, friends, is that it is very hard to discern these little foxes. These are very little foxes; they creep in where nothing else can. These come when it is dark, when they cannot be seen; and you hardly know the little foxes have been there, you hardly realize there is a little fox, until you look on the branch and you find it is completely bar­ren.


Well, how can you discern these little foxes? Is it possible, if they are right things, if they are lawful things? There are one or two tests. Beware of anything you find your affections and your thoughts upon continually. If, when you wake up in the morning, your thoughts go to a certain thing, now beware lest that is becoming a little fox and spoiling the vines. If you have something that is much with you, watch what effect it has upon your spirit. Perhaps some of you have become very enamored with some­thing, very interested in something. Now is it having a good effect upon your spirit? Or is it having a darkening effect, a deadening effect? Then beware, for it is a little fox.


Watch for anything, whatever it is, that comes between your soul and Christ, that hinders prayer, that holds you back from union and commun­ion. Watch anything that interferes with your devotions, anything that ever prevents you from coming to the house of God, but anything espe­cially that interferes with private devotions. These, briefly, are the ways in which these foxes can be detected. You see, they are such lawful things, innocent things in themselves, but when Satan uses them, they work the same havoc in the vineyard as the open sins and the ungodly teachers. Satan does not mind how he spoils the vines so long as there is no fruit being brought forth to eternal life.


Then what need to urge this prayer: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

More Poems & Stories >>

Copyright Notice: If anything on this site is being used in violation of copyright laws, please contact us as soon as possible and it will be removed immediately.

Did you enjoy this article? Please let our administrator know!

Perhaps you have a friend that would enjoy it as well?
Tell them about it here.

Are you aware of a poem or story that should be included on our site? Please tell us about it!

New Testament  |  Old Testament  |  Search  |  Resources  |  Bible Helps  |  Daily Reading