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 23:21

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
– Proverbs 23:21

The word for poverty means dispossessed, which can be inheritance but at least denotes impoverishing loss. Wisdom here looks to the end of the way of drunkards and gluttons. The word for drowsiness means sleepiness, and is put for indolence. The saying likely includes a third form of excess, indulging in sleep and rest. This is a feature of the sluggard, with the same consequences (Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 24:30-34). All could be generally characterized as lovers of pleasure, and their fate is the same (Proverbs 21:17).

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Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
– Proverbs 20:4

Plowing in the cold is uncomfortable and hard work, but the time to plow is in the season, which is often rainy and cold. The sluggard misses the opportunity and later has nothing. The word for sluggard means sluggish, or lazy. Sluggishness suggests being slow to get to things and so the question, “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?” (Proverbs 6:9). The cold provides sufficient reason for the sluggard not to plow. The sluggard is professional at piling up excuses (Proverbs 26:13), and seven wise men are not sufficient to dissuade him from his folly (Proverbs 26:16). The word for beg means inquire, or seek. The image suggests the sluggard seeks for the harvest of his field, but whatever effort he put in was not enough and not at the right time. The tragedy of the sluggard is realized in the sad end of his life tale. He comes to poverty, want, and nothing (Proverbs 6:10-11; 10:4; 19:15; 24:34).

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Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
– Proverbs 13:4

This proverbs contrasts wanting and having. The word for sluggard means indolent or lazy. We might even say sluggish to do anything. To desire is to wish for or to want something. The sluggard here has a desire for things but has nothing. The sluggard is a certain type of fool in the Proverbs. His character is sketched in vivid pictures. He is hinged to his bed (Proverbs 26:14). He produces outlandish excuses, such as a lion in the street (Proverbs 26:13). The sluggard is pure laziness (Proverbs 26:15). Sluggards tend to have plenty of ideas but they find out talk is truly cheap (Proverbs 14:23). The contrast is with the diligent and their being made fat. Fatness is a reference to abundance or plenteousness. The general tenor of the Proverbs is that diligence, hard work, is rewarded with profit (Proverbs 14:23). The diligent also desire like the sluggards do, but the difference is the diligent get up and work in order to have (Proverbs 21:5).

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Proverbs 10:26

As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.
– Proverbs 10:26

The vinegar and smoke mentioned are both irritants. Smoke in the eyes when trying to work to get something done can be frustrating. A sluggard is an indolent, lazy person. The sluggard is one of the recurring characters throughout Proverbs. When a sluggard is employed or otherwise relied on to accomplish something, it is an exasperating experience.

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Proverbs 6:9

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
– Proverbs 6:9

Verses 9-11 press the application from the ant lessons. Solomon gives an aggressive rebuke to arouse the slothful sleeper. The sluggard loves sleep, rest, comfort, and ease. Solomon says he is hinged to his bed like a door to a frame (Proverbs 26:14). There is a proper time for rest and sleep, but also for work. The slothful always have a reason (Proverbs 26:16), but the point is that it is time they should be up and at work. The implication of the passage is that the sluggard is slow to start and that is one of the marks of sloth in Proverbs.

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