posted on May, 31 2019 @ 05:01 PM
The collector of the Old Testament Proverbs makes his purpose clear from the beginning.
“That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight” (ch1 v2).
Then he further defines this wisdom as “fear of the Lord” (v7). This phrase, when used in the Bible, means respect and willingness to obey.
I’m studying the different characters of Proverbs, as one way of organising and understanding the teaching
“The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns, but the way of the upright is a level highway” (ch15 v19).
The Sluggard is someone who cannot get down to his work;
“The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labour” (ch21 v25).
“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to want” (ch14 v23).
He is very adept at finding excuses for himself;
“The sluggard says “There is a lion in the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth” (ch26 vv13-15).
Admittedly “lion in the streets” is a more reasonable possibility in that era than it sounds now; the equivalent, perhaps, of “ice on the
The results are predictable.
If you do not work on your plot of land, then you will not have food;
“The sluggard does not plough in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing” (ch20 v4).
“Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (ch19 v15).
“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes and you will have plenty of bread” (ch20 v13).
The Sluggard will therefore fail to achieve the wealth which is available to those who work hard;
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (ch10 v4).
“The soul of the sluggard craves, and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (ch13 v4)
“A slothful man will not catch his prey, but the diligent man will get precious wealth” (ch12 v27).
He is also pretty useless to anyone who employs him;
“Like vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him” (ch10 v26).
“He who is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (ch18 v9).
The graphic picture of the outcome of his life is well-known;
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man without sense;
And lo it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down…
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”
The real puzzle is why these proverbs should be quite so harsh upon someone whose inactivity seems to injure nobody but himself, and those who depend
The first clue is in the first comment I quoted, contrasting the way of the sluggard with the way of an upright man.
This indicates that the sluggard is not counted among the upright men.
He is not righteous. He does not fear the Lord.
Then it’s worth noting this proverb;
“A son who gathers in summer is prudent, but a son who sleeps in harvest brings shame” (ch10 v5 ).
A son is someone who should be listening to the wisdom offered by his father.
The implication is that his improvident laziness is only the symptom of a deeper failure to absorb and act upon his father’s teaching.
The Sluggard appears to be akin to the Fool.
We’ve seen him called “a man without sense”.
In fact he’s identified with that perennially foolish character, the man who is “wise in his own eyes”.
“The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer discreetly” (ch26 v16).
And only a few verses previously (v12), we may see the observation;
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (ch26 v12).
Given the proximity of those two comments, we might bring them together and reach the implied conclusion “There is more hope for a fool than for a
Why should this be?
Perhaps the distinction is that a Fool consciously rejects the wisdom principle “Fear the Lord”, while the Sluggard doesn’t even apply his mind
Then it might be true that a conscious atheist or Fool might be won over to God more easily (as I know from my own experience) than one who is simply
indifferent on the subject.
In that case, it would be spiritually true that judgement and poverty (failure to win the blessings of God) would come upon the Sluggard “like an