Proverbs 24:34

So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
– Proverbs 24:34

Verse 34 concludes the sayings with the ultimate conclusion of the wise observation. The “slothful” one who is “void of understanding” and always needing “a little sleep” will come to poverty in the end. The image is of being surprised and waylaid by a robber. From the sluggard’s perspective, he will one day wake up and wonder what has happened. Sloth cannot obtain and cannot keep what has been obtained (Proverbs 10:4; 13:4).

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Proverbs 24:33

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
– Proverbs 24:33

Verses 33 and 34 give the conclusions from observing the “field of the slothful.” The sluggard is anchored to his bed (Proverbs 26:14). Sometimes it is an indulgence in sleep and sometimes it is a putting things off (Proverbs 12:27; 20:4). The wise man asks, “How long” (Proverbs 6:9)? The sluggard is also “void of understanding” and cannot be reasoned with (Proverbs 26:16).

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Proverbs 24:32

Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
– Proverbs 24:32

The word for considered it well means to set the mind to. The word for instruction means discipline, correction, and instruction. The previous verse described the scene and this verse describes the sage. Growing in wisdom means growing in discernment to discern between good and evil in the real world (Hebrews 5:14). The instructions of wisdom are used to evaluate reality around us.

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Proverbs 24:31

And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
– Proverbs 24:31

This verse describes the property of “the slothful … man void of understanding.” The field is overgrown and the boundary wall is broken down. Laziness and negligence lead to greater difficulty (Proverbs 15:19), greater expense (Proverbs 18:9), and greater frustration (Proverbs 10:26). The sluggard does not have eyes in his head to understand the world he lives in. All you have inherited, or all you have worked for, will be ruined by simply doing nothing (Ecclesiastes 10:18).

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Proverbs 24:30

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
– Proverbs 24:30

Verses 30-34 conclude this appendix of more sayings of the wise with a life lesson from the sluggard. The passage parallels Proverbs 6:6-11 in ways. The sayings of the wise have already addressed working wisely (Proverbs 24:27). Proverbs consistently points to wisdom as the necessary foundation of any good life. In other words, wisdom is first (Proverbs 4:7). Get wisdom, build your house, and then it will be filled with good things (Proverbs 3:5-10; 24:4). Short-term wealth may be gained, but without wisdom, it will not be kept (Proverbs 6:11; 20:21; 28:22).

The owner of the field is identified as “slothful” and “void of understanding.” These characteristics are apparent from the condition of the property under his management. This section is immensely practical and shows how wisdom gains discernment to perceive character and draw lessons from life experiences.

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Proverbs 24:29

Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
– Proverbs 24:29

The warning of verse 29 could be in light of the warning in the previous verse against false witness in the form of baseless accusations. This verse has to do with retaliation, or seeking revenge. Rendering to men according their works is the sole work of Yahweh (Proverbs 20:22; 24:12; Romans 2:5-6; Romans 12:19-21). Personal retaliations tend to escalate anger, which is contrary to wisdom (Proverbs 10:12; 15:1, 18; 28:25; 29:22).

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Proverbs 24:28

Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
– Proverbs 24:28

Verse 28 is a saying against bearing false witness. The word for without cause literally means for nothing. It can refer to free, or without cost, but can also mean without a reason. In the context of a false witness, it means to make a baseless accusation. The law required a witness to have firsthand knowledge to give testimony in a case (Leviticus 5:1). Judges were responsible to examine the witnesses’ evidence and establish the truthfulness of the testimony (Deuteronomy 19:18-21). Wisdom as well as the law condemns being a false witness (Exodus 23:1; Proverbs 14:5; 19:5; 21:28).

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Proverbs 24:27

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field: and afterwards build thine house.
– Proverbs 24:27

Verse 27 is a standalone saying. A house is a common figure in Proverbs for a family (Proverbs 11:29; 14:1; 15:27). In general, wisdom teaches forethought, planning, and proper ordering of things in life. So a house is only filled with good things by wisdom (Proverbs 24:3-4).

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Proverbs 24:26

Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
– Proverbs 24:26

This verse closes the saying on just judgment. The word for right means straight and the word for answer means word, or something said. Giving a straight answer is likened to a kiss, which was a sign of loyalty and affection. Though the wording seems a little obscure, the proverb suggests a true kinship with one who speaks straight. This saying accords with the value of wise speech taught elsewhere (Proverbs 15:23; 16:13; 25:11-12).

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