Subtle Rebuff

by Carroll Wynne April 11, 2014

Proverbs 24:30-34

I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

When I was a boy sometime adults would quote to me, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” (v. 33) which I always thought was their way of voicing jealousy over the fact that I had finished my chores and was sitting down rather than they. But now…I feel a bit foolish that I didn’t know what they were quoting, nor the true meaning. 

As you can see, it is regarding the person is relaxing, not after a full day of work, but wasting time. Marion Clark wrote a great devotional Proverbs 6:6 entitled A Little Sleep, and I would encourage you to enjoy his good observations.

The sluggard does get railed upon in Proverbs, and who is surprised? A sluggard is someone who is lazy and listless, someone who wastes time and energy expecting to have an enriching life by sitting still.  (For those who are older and “listening,” strains of Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" may be creeping into your mind at this moment.)  British commentator Dr. John Goldingay summarized:

The longest of the sayings is one of Proverbs’ fine pen-pictures of one of its favourite (or rather least favourite) characters, the idler (30–34). He is unreliable (10:26; 18:9), unfulfilled (13:4; 21:25), beset by problems (15:19), hungry (19:15; 20:4), full of excuses (22:13; 26:13), never finishing anything (12:27; 19:24; 26:15), poverty-stricken (12:24) and incorrigible (26:14, 16). 6:6–11; 19:24 and 26:13–16 are further memorable word-pictures. Contrast the person who works hard (12:24, 27; 13:4; 16:26; 21:5). Hard work is a wisdom virtue, necessary to gaining wisdom and to success in life; thus laziness is the opposite. (New Bible Commentary 602)

Not to say there isn’t something to be said for relaxation and refreshment, but that is why our God has blessed us with Sabbath rest.