I still can’t believe we did it, considering our ultimate fear is being close to any kind of snake. But I suppose Susie, my sister, and I are getting braver as the years go by.
Last weekend on a trip back from Dallas, Susie and I stopped at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas. We had to go through Sweetwater anyway, so we decided to take some time and experience something we had always heard about.
We parked our car in Sweetwater and headed down to the world’s largest rattlesnake event at the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater.
We stopped at the “milking pit” where a man was picking up rattlesnakes and “milking” them for the venom. There was a soft buzz that really sounded like locusts but the sound was coming from the rattlesnake pit where the man was walking among about 30 rattlesnakes. Some were loose in the pen and some were in a yellow barrel. The handler would pick one up out of the barrel, hold it by the head over a glass vial and then squeeze it to make the venom come out.
We watched as the handlers singled out snakes, milked, bagged and then piled them on top of one another. We watched as the rattlesnakes slithered on the cement floor in the containment pens. We watched as they coiled, hissed and struck. We watched in awe, fear and trepidation.
This year, the snake hunters in the hills around Sweetwater collected 1,700 pounds of diamondback rattlesnakes. One handler said, “Everybody has a fear of snakes, even us.” He was holding a rattlesnake.
The key, he said, was to never look away, and always pay attention. A rattlesnake bite gone untreated can result in certain death.
Have you ever wondered why the Bible likens the tongue to poisonous snakes? James wrote: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8)
David used the word “viper” to describe his pursuer, Saul, who was once again after him: “Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.” (Psalm 140: 1-3)
People with slanderous tongues plot evil in their hearts, are unscrupulous, unrelenting and care for nothing but carrying gossip and malice from person to person. To make matters worse, they are crafty and invent ways to carry evil. Their tongues are like poison, like the poison of the viper.
If a poisonous snakebite goes untreated, a sure and swift death is the result. Add a parallel to that: a slanderer can inflict much pain and sufferings on the person they are gossiping about. Their words when “injected “ into the first hearer are really more poisonous than snakes because then that word of gossip, that tale of malice spreads from person to person and suddenly a whole crowd is filled with the poison of gossip. No wonder a sharp and wicked tongue, the poison tongue of any individual, can be likened to a poisonous snake.
Murder is horrendous, and robbery is an awful act, but many so called “good” people engage in gossip daily. They are the happiest when carrying tales about another, and it is poison to the very life of the person they are talking about.
But God knows … outside their religious fa