A pig in a poke

There’s a story of a young man named Tom who bought a cow from an old farmer for $250, sight unseen. He trusted the farmer. The next day, however, when Tom came to pick up the cow he discovered that it was dead. Shocked, Tom demanded that the old farmer give him his money back. “Can’t do that” said the farmer, “I spent it already.”

Tom thought about it for a moment and then said, “OK, I’ll take the dead cow.” “What are you going to do with him?” the farmer asked. Tom said, “I’m going to raffle him off.” The farmer said, “You can’t raffle off a dead cow!” “Sure I can, watch me” said Tom, “just like you, I won’t tell anybody its dead.”

A month later, the farmer met up with Tom and asked, “What happened with that dead cow?” “I raffled him off” said Tom. “I sold 500 tickets at five dollars apiece and made a profit of $2,495.” “Did anyone complain?” the farmer asked. “Just the guy who won,” Tom said, “So I gave him his 5 dollars back.”

Tom grew up and is now a political consultant. Tom was very cleaver. Deceitful, but cleaver!

My father used to use the term all the time. “Don’t buy a pig in a poke!” The saying was first recorded in London around 1530. It was intended to be good advice to honorable traders. A poke is a small bag or sack used to stuff a piglet in for sale at the local market. The proverb encapsulates “buyer beware”. In other words, always inspect the goods before you pay for them. Make the seller open his poke. Pull the piglet out and examine him. Never just trust an old farmer because he looks honest.

The Bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light? Satan is just like that old farmer, and even more like Tom. He knows that what he has to sell is actually dead. But he also knows that he’s a great salesman. Good enough to get us to think that he’s truthful and trustworthy. The devil is always selling a pig in a poke. Satan hopes that buyers will not beware, act on impulse, and buy the lie.

Don’t do it! Don’t buy a pig in a poke! Always be careful to examine what you’re being asked to buy. Take it out of the bag and check it out in the light of God’s truth.

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” 1 Thessalonians 5:21