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Derek Kidner, in his 1964 commentary on Proverbs, writes about the sluggard (pp. 42-43):

The sluggard in Proverbs is a figure of tragi-comedy, with his sheer animal laziness (he is more than anchored to his bed: he is hinged to it, 26:14), his preposterous excuses ("there is a lion outside!" 26:13; 22:13) and his final helplessness.

Kidner identified four features of the sluggard according to Proverbs:

(1) He will not begin things. When we ask him (6:9, 10) "How long?" "When...?", we are being too definite for him. He doesn't know. All he knows is his delicious drowsiness; all he asks is a little respite: "a little...a little...a little...". He does not commit himself to a refusal, but deceives himself by the smallness of his surrenders. So, by inches and minutes, his opportunity slips away.

(2) He will not finish things. The rare effort of beginning has been too much; the impulse dies. So his quarry goes bad on him (12:27) and his meal goes cold on him (19:24; 26:15).

(3) He will not face things. He comes to believe his own excuses (perhaps there is a lion out there, 22:13), and to rationalize his laziness; for he is "wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason" (26:16). Because he makes a habit of the soft choice (he "will not plow by reason of the cold," 20:4) his character suffers as much as his business, so that he is implied in 15:19 to be fundamentally dishonest...

(4) Consequently he is restless (13:4; 21:25, 26) with unsatisfied desire; helpless in face of the tangle of his affairs, which are like a "hedge of thorns" (15:19); and useless--expensively (18:9) and exasperatingly (10:26)--to any who must employ him. . . .

Kidner continues:

The wise man will learn while there is time. He knows that the sluggard is no freak, but, as often as not, an ordinary man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals and too many postponements. It has all been as imperceptible, and as pleasant, as falling asleep.

HT: C.J. Mahaney

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8 thoughts on “The Sluggard Is No Freak!”

  1. JL says:

    Great post. My only beef: although yawning, that statue is way too ripped to be a sluggard :p

  2. Terribly convicting post. For real. I think I’ll go sit on the bed and ponder its ramifications. :)

  3. Dean P says:

    This sound like a description of my entire generation. “Greenberg” anyone?

  4. will says:

    Yeah, so what do we do about it?

  5. Point (2) is challenging to me. Beginning things is appealing because it facilitates the indulgence of certain fantasies:

    “I’ve started going to the gym” (already in my head I’m ripped!)
    “I’ve started writing a book” (already I’m a celebrated author!)
    “I’ve started reading my bible daily” (already I’m a disciplined Christian!)

    But the fantasy is ephemeral and unsatisfying, and we move on to dreaming of other fantasy projects at the first sign of hard work. We easily forget that we are only one person, with a set number of years, and daily commitments that take up the majority of our waking hours.

    It’s important to know the difference between foolish dreaming and careful, realistic planning, and to understand why the former appeals to us.

  6. Pete Head says:

    stop picking on me!

  7. Chad says:

    He may look so ripped because he was too lazy to get something to eat. He is “wasting away”.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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