“Although leeches are often rated high on the gross-out scale, they’ve recently become famous for their medicinal uses…” That’s a quote, not from the year 1725, but from By Jacob Freiman, M.D. in a 2018 piece in U.S. News and World Report. It’s called hirudotherapy, named after the medicinal leech. When I was a boy, there were two dangers, according to TV shows, that I expected were looming everywhere: quicksand and leeches. But they aren’t as dangerous as I thought they were, unless you are in the Amazon. Not too long ago, a leech proved the settled science wrong by existing, because it was long considered extinct. This leech was around 17 inches long, and you can see it at the Smithsonian. They named it Grandma Moses. Leeches are good at their job, albeit a rather gruesome one and perhaps because they are sort of gross and nightmarish, they are a useful metaphor. Agur thought so, in Proverbs 30:15 where he wrote, “The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.”
Mrs. Horseleach (no relation to Grandma Moses) had two daughters and they were just like their mother — never satisfied. Go near the water, and they are ready to latch on and drain their host dry. Though I don’t speak leech, if you listen closely, you can hear them crying, “GIVE! GIVE!” I’m not sure how useful leeches are in medicine, but they are very useful as metaphor. The covetous, like the leech, are never satisfied and always asking for more. If I’m not mistaken, some of the ancient relatives of Mrs. Horseleach are alive today and working as politicians. Of course, the only reason they have jobs is because they promise to give other covetous people free stuff. We have covetous leaders because we are a covetous people.
The awful thing about covetousness is the very thing you desire so much never satisfies and always leaves you thirsting for more. John D. Rockefeller, when asked how much money is enough, spoke for all of Adam’s children by saying, “just a little bit more.” You don’t have to be rich to love money, just have to desire to have more and more. But it doesn’t satisfy. You could covet food, drink, pleasure, possessions, a perfect body type, but it won’t satisfy. Most of the time, it’s not the desired thing that’s the problem because you can covet after good things. Paul tells us the heart of the matter in Colossians 3:5, covetousness is idolatry. The idolater is looking for satisfaction in some person or something. Like a leech, hungry for blood, that insatiable desire will never go away, even when they get what they covet because they’ll need to have more of it. Flee covetousness Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. Fight the good fight. Look for and desire eternal life. And to borrow a line from the Horsleech gals — give, give, me Jesus (1 Timothy 6:11-12; Philippians 3:8).