Proverbs 26:16

The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

– Proverbs 26:16

This group of sluggard sayings finishes with a saying that gets at the root of the lazy man’s problems. He is wise in “his own conceit,” or in his own eyes. The word for reason means taste, or judgment. It has been translated as discretion and understanding. The word refers to what we might call good sense. The number seven is in excess of the two or three witnesses in the law and the excess points to the fact that their reason is established, true, and reliable. The sluggard will not receive it, but thinks he is smarter than all who disagree with him. In the face of hard truth, he persists in his own judgment. The lazy man or woman has a stubborn pride that clings to their own excuses and rationalizations as to why they do not work.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:15

The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

– Proverbs 26:15

The third saying is very close to Proverbs 19:24. The word for grieveth means weary or tiring. The image exaggerates laziness to the point the sluggard is too lazy to lift his hand to his mouth to eat. Kidner pointed out the sluggard’s objection to being hurried in regard to this saying.

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:14

As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

– Proverbs 26:14

The second saying gives the image of a hinged door as apt to depict the slothful upon his bed. A door is fastened to the post with hinges so it can swing back and forth, but it does not move out of its place. The sluggard is similarly hinged to his bed, so he does not get up and get to work. Proverbs marks a sluggard as one over-indulging in sleep and rest (Proverbs 6:9-10; 24:33). This group of sayings highlights the sluggard’s rationalizations and Kidner here points out the lazy often say they are not at their “best in the morning.”

 


 

 

Proverbs 26:13

The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

– Proverbs 26:13

Verses 13-16 form a group of sayings about sluggards, or slothful men. All together they provide a picture of either self-deception, or at least a lack of self-awareness. A sluggard never thinks he is lazy, but rather has answers for all challenges to his lack of proper action and work. This saying echoes Proverbs 22:13, where the sluggard cannot go out to work because the possibility of a lion in the streets. Kidner pointed out this excuse makes the sluggard a “realist” in his own mind. He doesn’t think he is lazy but rather he is pragmatic.

This saying relates to the thinking of a person who will not start to work because of the all the difficulties. Whatever project is suggested, they persist in pointing out all the obstacles and difficulties. Merely pointing out a difficulty is sufficient reason to never tackle the project.

 


 

 

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 24:31

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 22:13

The slothful man saith, There is lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
– Proverbs 22:13

Readers of Proverbs are well acquainted with the sluggard by this point. Despite all counsel and evidence to the contrary, the sluggard thinks he knows best (Proverbs 26:16). Here he justifies not working by the preposterous excuse of a lion in the street. The sluggard seeks the easier, more comfortable, route (Proverbs 20:4). The word for slothful means lazy. He, of course, intends to get to work, but it is always after (Proverbs 6:9-10). He needs just a little more sleep and to give the lions time to clear out.

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