Proverbs 19:24

A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.
– Proverbs 19:24

This proverb uses hyperbole to paint the image of the sluggard as being too lazy to even bring food to his mouth with his hand. The word for bosom means a dish and is so used in 2 Kings 21:13. The word for hideth means to conceal, or bury. The picture is of a lazy man with his hand buried in a dish and too lazy to expend the effort to lift the food to his mouth. The proverb highlights how sluggards want something for nothing and how even what they start, they will not finish (Proverbs 12:27). Consequently, the sluggard goes unsatisfied (Proverbs 6:9-11; 10:4; 13:4; 20:4).

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Proverbs 19:15

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
– Proverbs 19:15

The word for deep sleep refers to a trance-like state of unconsciousness. It describes the state of Adam when God took his rib (Genesis 2:21), and Abram when God sealed his covenant with him (Genesis 15:12). Sleep is the continually indulged pleasure of the sluggard (Proverbs 6:9-10; 20:13). The sluggard sleeps and misses opportunities and is unaware of the ruin coming on him. He eventually awakes to loss and hunger (Proverbs 24:30-34).

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Proverbs 18:9

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
– Proverbs 18:9

The word for slothful means to slacken, to be loose. The word for waster means a destroyer, or speaks of ruining. The lazy worker and the active destroyer belong to the same family. They are brothers, or in the same category. The result of each one’s work is ruin, though the waster intended that from the start and the sluggard did not. Sluggards have dreams and ambitions, but little to show for it (Proverbs 13:4; 21:25-26). Sluggards cannot get started to work on their ideas (Proverbs 6:9; 26:14), and once started, they cannot follow through and finish their work (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 26:15). Sluggards wake up one day to waste and loss (Proverbs 6:11). They end up the same place as the one who set out to destroy from the start.

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Proverbs 15:19

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
– Proverbs 15:19

The word for slothful means sluggish and lazy. The first phrase indicates his personal affairs are a tangled mess. He is averse to hard work and will not receive wisdom (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 26:15-16). The immediate point is that laziness makes everything harder and more frustrating for others (Proverbs 10:26; 18:9). The word for righteous in the contrasting phrase means upright or straight. The parallelism indicates there is unrighteousness with laziness. The way of the righteous is clear and straight (Proverbs 3:6; 8:9).

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Proverbs 14:23

In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
– Proverbs 14:23

Proverbs doesn’t provide a shortcut to riches, but it does consistently assure us there is profit in diligent work. The word for profit means a gain, or increase. The sure way to it is labor, or toil (Proverbs 28:19). The contrast to hard work is idle talk, the talk of the lips. The word for penury means want, or lack. It can indicate poverty. Idle talk can be in many forms, such as excuses (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13), talking rather than listening (Proverbs 26:16), or pursuing quick schemes (Proverbs 28:19). These sort usually have big ideas about what they’re going to do, but it is always going to be done and never done.

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Proverbs 12:27

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
– Proverbs 12:27

The Proverbs speaks much of diligence and slothfulness. The first phrase shows the slothful man cannot finish what he has started. He has no commitment and perseverance to see a project through (Proverbs 19:24; 26:15). He creates a lot of waste and is left unsatisfied (Proverbs 6:11; 13:4; 21:25-26). The quarry taken in hunting is similar to the image of the harvest. There is a short time to roast it before it spoils. So, the slothful squander opportunities. The contrast expresses a different view by the diligent. All substance got through hard work and great blessing is precious, not to be wasted.

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Proverbs 12:24

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
– Proverbs 12:24

Proverbs consistently commends diligence, or hard work (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4; 12:27; 13:4; 19:15; 21:5). Diligence is a part of walking in wisdom. As Solomon put elsewhere, “time and chance” happens to all, so there is no absolute guarantee that diligence will lead to prosperity, but it is generally true (Ecclesiastes 9:11). To bear rule means to have dominion and it isn’t limited to positions of government. It refers here to the ascendance of the diligent to greater responsibility and authority. The word for tribute means a tax or forced labor situation. This contrast shows how the slothful descend in responsibility and authority. They are neither wise nor diligent like the ant, which needs no overseer (Proverbs 6:6-8).

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Proverbs 10:5

He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.
– Proverbs 10:5

This proverb contrasts hard work and slothfulness, which is a common theme throughout the Proverbs. Rather than focusing on diligence and abundance contrasted with slothfulness and poverty, this proverb focuses on the effects a son has on his parents. A wise son brings joy (Proverbs 15:20) and a foolish son brings grief (Proverbs 17:25). Looking a little deeper at the proverb, we see the core of it is not so much about industry versus laziness as it is wisdom. The summer and the harvest are seasons that require certain things to be done. The wise son gathers because he discerns the season and is diligent at the appropriate time. The shameful son either doesn’t discern the time or carelessly sleeps, both bringing shame.

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Proverbs 10:4

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
– Proverbs 10:4

A slack hand refers to laxness or slothfulness. It is contrasted with diligent, which refers to definite, determined action. Wisdom teaches that slothfulness tends to poverty (Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 20:4). Wisdom also teaches that diligent work tends to abundance (Proverbs 13:4; 21:5).

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