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Proverbial characters;- The Sluggard

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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 roads”.

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” (ch24 vv30-34).

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 on him.

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 sluggard”.
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 to it.
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 armed man”.

posted on May, 31 2019 @ 05:18 PM

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth” (ch26 vv13-15).

I've just remembered the story of the Doasyoulikes, from Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies;
"And they sat under the flapdoodle-trees, and let the flapdoodle drop into their mouths; and under the vines, and squeezed the grape-juice down their throats; and, if any little pigs ran about ready roasted, crying, "Come and eat me," as was their fashion in that country, they waited till the pigs ran against their mouths, and then took a bite, and were content, just as so many oysters would have been."

posted on Jun, 1 2019 @ 06:02 AM
What is so good about the proverbs to me is the timelessness of the teachings , the interminable wisdom .

The sluggard , the arrogant , the fool , the wicked , all these psychologies or ways of being still exist , . And also so do the diligent , the faithful , the upright .

Perhaps it's discernible that there are only two base characteristics at play , the one good the other bad . One can easily equate and find in the same person arrogance , laziness and wickedness . In the proverbs , the one trait is godless and the other exists in fear of the Lord .

But it's a moral choice in this day , you either look after yourself and others carefully or you're just a selfish lazy liability .
And that's still as a fair a judgement now as it was then . Plenty of other ancient wisdom has issued the same advice , that of karma for example .

'Piggybacking' a religion upon this knowledge of actual wisdom is unfair play , substituting a chosen named creator of life's realities , and making people believe they owe their lives to it , is obfuscation with a likely nefarious agenda .

However , let's avoid this unfortunate pitfall which credulous people often get trapped in ( because tangible authority is gained from perceived or indeed actual moral authority - hence the historical rise to sometimes absolute governance of religions ) . But , let's learn from the proverbs anyway .

Don't be a lazy slow sluggard in life but if you are then turn the corner , make it right . The fact is , you don't get any respect when you're # isn't together , if you don't make an effort sometimes then you'll get nothing done , and as a consequence your life will be impoverished , you'll be punished for it in later days , by circumstances , simple consequences , if not by God .

Learn to set things to develop for the future : you only harvest crops after your seeds are set , your ground is good spring if you have ploughed in autumn . The same applies to nearly everything , you go to the shop before you cook dinner you wash up or you'll have no plates by tomorrow . This is a piece of wisdom too many people have missed out on in schools , where kids are given almost no responsibility for themselves , it's all owed to teachers for rules attention and homework instead . They're not expected to forward plan anything of consequence to their lives except under threat .
That's worse than useless , to the extent of being a designed disaster , but eventually people have to grow up . And after that's when you can mainly blame the sluggard himself for his own ills which he helped befall him .

posted on Jun, 1 2019 @ 10:27 AM

originally posted by: FieldMarshalMatt
'Piggybacking' a religion upon this knowledge of actual wisdom is unfair play

I think they're doing it the other way round; "Given that we believe in a God, how does this wisdom relate to our understanding of him?"

posted on Jun, 1 2019 @ 03:35 PM
How often do you pray DISRAELI? Would you consider yourself a sluggard in that respect. I am not being disrespectful but I do consider myself a sluggard when it comes to meditation, It seems I make excuses to myself. Too tired, too busy. When in reality I have more time than I ever had before.

posted on Jun, 1 2019 @ 03:40 PM
a reply to: glend
Not enough. I will admit that.

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