Back to Chapter 24 Index
1. The next five verses in this section deal with one proverbial thought: laziness.
2. It is part of human nature. It is more of a problem for some than others, but everyone has some areas of life where we are lazy.
3. Thus, this proverb is valuable to us all. There is application enough for each of us.
4. In these verses, the author does the following:
a. First he observed the field of the slothful man and took some notes (vs.30-31).
b. Then he meditated on what he observed. (vs.32a)
c. Then he was personally instructed by what he observed. He learned a lesson from it. (vs.32b-34)
1. The author walked by a field and made some initial observations.
a. The field was overgrown with thorns and nettles.
b. The stone wall was broken down.
c. His property had fallen into disrepair. No upkeep had been done in quite some time.
2. Next the author concluded that the owner was slothful.
a. Slothful: sluggard; lazy; slow to take any action, suggesting a lack of discipline or initiative, as a moral failure;
b. The slothful man described in Proverbs:
i. Prov. 19:24 – They lack initiative
ii. Prov. 20:4 – They find excuses not to work; they don’t do their jobs on time; they are procrastinators
iii. Prov. 22:13 – They invent reasons not to work; they fear work!
iv. Prov. 26:16 – Yet, they consider themselves to be just a bit smarter than everyone else. (“Those other fools have to get up and go to work everyday… but not me! I’m too smart for that.”)
c. Solomon paints a pitiful but accurate picture of the slothful man or woman.
3. Notice the way the author describes the “slothful” man: he calls him a “man void of understanding”.
a. The term “understanding” is a translation of a word that means “heart; inner man; the mind, the emotions, and will of the man; the inner self life.”
b. Here the author uses the term of the deep, inner thought life of a man.
c. In other words, it is what is going on deep inside a man’s mind, heart, and soul.
d. And what is going on inside the mind and heart of the sluggard?
e. Nothing! This man is void of understanding.
i. Void means lacking, destitute, deficient, or empty.
f. This passage gives us an inspired, in-depth look deep into the heart and soul of a man.
g. If you want to know about human psychology, don’t study Skinner or Freud. They have no concept of what the human psyche is really like (sinful; cursed; depraved; blinded spiritually; etc.)
h. If you want to know about human psychology, study the Bible.
i. What the Bible says about inner workings of the human heart is true and accurate because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
ii. We are ill equipped to understand our own hearts, much less the heart of someone else.
iii. Jer. 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart…”
iv. Our hearts are deceptive. We think we know what’s going on inside, but we are easily deceived. Who can know it? The answer is no one (no human being). But the LORD searches the heart… the deep recesses of the heart. He knows exactly what’s going on inside the heart and soul of a man.
i. Here God tells us something about the heart of a lazy person. What’s going on inside? Not much! He is VOID (empty) of understanding.
j. Keep in mind that this is not an intellectual problem. It is not that the lazy man lacks the mental capacity to be hard working. Rather, he lacks the MORAL capacity. This is a moral problem… a sin problem. It is a problem of the heart, not the head.
k. This man lacks the heart to work. Therefore he chooses not to think about it. He has developed a capacity to block work out of his mind. Work is a four letter work to him… a bad, swear word.
l. This is the kind of person the author observed.
i. His fields are overgrown and his stone wall is falling apart, not because the man is elderly or handicapped and unable to take care of his property.
ii. This property is a mess because the owner is slothful.
iii. It is not a physical problem or an intellectual problem. It is a moral problem. The man has chosen to be slothful.
1. The next thing we are told in this proverb is that the author considered it well.
a. Consider: (two Hebrew words)
i. The first word means: “to put or to place something”
ii. The second word means: “heart or mind”
iii. Together the expression means “to consider; to contemplate; to put the mind to something; to pay attention to something;
b. The author went by the field of the slothful man and began to do some heavy thinking.
c. He didn’t casually observe the field. He paid close attention to it. He thought about it. He meditated on the meaning of what he saw.
2. Solomon was wise because he a keen observer.
a. He thought about the things that he saw.
b. He saw the same things that everyone else saw. The difference was that he took the time to THINK about what he saw. He considered the significance of what he observed.
c. For example, Solomon observed:
i. Ants… and learned lessons about hard work
ii. Harlots in the windows, waiting to allure young men their way.
iii. Solomon observed trees and other plants. He observed ants and other animals.
iv. But he especially observed people. He was a people watcher. He carefully observed human behavior, and considered the results of that kind of behavior.
v. He recorded the results in his observations about life in this book – for our learning and admonition.
d. But Solomon also left us with an example of HOW to become wise: by paying careful attention to the things that we observe in life.
i. If we pay attention to the little things that we observe in life and meditate upon the significance of them, we too can learn great lessons and gain wisdom.
3. The author uses three terms to describe the process of LOOKING:
a. I saw – this term implies seeing and perceiving. (The English word see also is used of understanding. “Oh, I see!”)
b. I considered it well – “to put it in your heart and mind”
c. I looked upon it – “to see, to pay attention, to experience”
d. There seems to be a progression of thought:
i. Seeing and initial perception
ii. Consideration – meditation; contemplation on the meaning
iii. Looking upon it – experiencing the truth – real life application.
1. After seeing, considering, and looking upon, the author then received instruction.
a. Instruction: discipline, chastening, correction, self-control as a feature of a wise person, as moral quality, warning,
b. What he observed served as a form of discipline.
c. It served as a correction for areas in his life that needed to put this lesson into practice.
d. It served as a warning to him about the possibility of becoming lazy in the future.
e. Thus, whenever he sensed that he himself was being lazy, this lesson would be there in the back of his mind to rebuke him for it… and to correct him.
2. There are various ways in which we can be instructed.
a. We can be instructed by God through His Word.
i. Prov.1:1-3 - The book of Proverbs was written for that very purpose… that we might be instructed by God through His Word.
b. We can be instructed by another person.
i. Prov.1:8 – We can be instructed by our earthly father, teacher, pastor, brother, etc.)
c. We can be instructed by experience (learning the lesson the hard way)
i. Ps. 119:59 – “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”
d. We can be instructed by observation as the author was.
i. God gives us vision and intellect.
ii. There isn’t any reason why we could not make observations in life and learn lessons from what we observe, just as Solomon did.
iii. Of course, our observations are not divinely inspired as were the author of this proverb. We need to be careful and test our conclusions against the Word of God.
iv. But good lessons CAN be learned from everyday life.
3. Any time we are instructed morally and spiritually, we should see God’s hand in it.
a. Whatever method God chooses to instruct us, we need to take heed.
b. Even if it comes from the mouth of a babe!
c. Prov. 23:12 – “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”
d. Whatever method God uses to instruct, we need to apply that instruction to our life. We are responsible for any light God gives.
e. So keep your eyes open and observe life.
f. As Yogi Berra once famously said, “You can see a lot just by looking.”