The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 2
The sluggard first appears in the Proverbs with a warning, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise” (6:6). “How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (6:10-11).
Two types of poverty exist in Scripture and in the world today:
- Circumstance-induced poverty – Circumstances beyond a person’s control diminish his ability to provide for himself and his family.
- Self-induced poverty – A person refuses to work and wastes his potential and resources until he has squandered all that he has.
Sometimes both work in concert to diminish a person’s hope and opportunity. Little may be done to change one’s circumstances. The wisdom writer, however, teaches a number of lessons about the self-induced poverty of the sluggard:
The sluggard wastes his potential. “I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down” (Prov. 24:30-31).
The sluggard sees the challenge as difficult-to-impossible and withdraws, while the wise man envisions the outcome and tackles the challenge. “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway” (15:19).
The sluggard prefers an empty dish to hard work. “A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again!” (19:24; 26:15) “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (21:25).
The sluggard refuses to take a job that hints of any danger. “The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets” (22:13; 26:13)!
The sluggard chooses to sleep when others are working. “As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed” (26:14).
The sluggard thinks that he is smarter than everyone else. “The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (26:16).
Laziness bleeds over into spiritual life as well. Spiritual sluggards sit on many church pews. Every man has as much of God as he wants; sadly, few pursue God diligently, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6; emphasis added).
Physical sluggards reap physical poverty, but spiritual sluggards reap the saddest poverty of all—poverty of the soul.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Proverbs 20:1-22:16):
How does the wisdom writer compare wisdom and wealth?
What do the proverbs reveal about a king and his wisdom?