Diligent in Business
1. This proverb is the fifth of thirty wise sayings in this section of the book.
2. This (unlike many in this section) is a “stand alone” proverb. Its message is found in just one verse.
3. In this proverb, the author asks his readers to “see” or to consider a man who is diligent in his business.
4. As we consider this man, certain conclusions will become obvious and undeniable.
1. The MAIN point of this proverb is the results of “diligence.” Thus, the meaning of this term is crucial to understand the proverb.
a. Four occurrences; Authorized Version translates as “ready” twice, “diligent” once, and “hasting” once.
b. Strong’s gives this term two meanings:
• Quick, prompt,
c. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Also gives it two meanings:
• Skilled, well-versed; experienced; i.e., having the knowledge and skill in a subject.
» Ezra 7:6 – Ezra was a “ready” scribe (same word = skilled).
• Expeditious; i.e., pertaining to executing an action in a prompt and prudent manner, implying rapidity and diligence to the task.
d. These two definitions are not unrelated. One who is skilled in an area usually is able to work more rapidly and get more done than someone who is just learning a trade.
e. The emphasis of the term translated “diligence” is not so much on how HARD the person works, but rather on his skill and ease, and quickness in accomplishing a task.
f. For example, a young, inexperienced man may work twice as hard at chopping wood as his father. He may sweat more, burn more calories, and put more effort into the work. But his more experienced father knows enough to stop and sharpen his ax, so that each swing is more efficient. The father may have more skill in swinging the ax and knowing where and how to strike the wood. He knows the best way to work through a piece of oak as opposed to a piece of elm. Thus, even though the son may be as diligent and HARD working as his father, the experienced father gets more work done and easier—because of his skill and wisdom.
g. This is the distinction in the term translated “diligence” here.
• Both meanings refer to the same thing: (1) Skill and (2) Pertaining to executing an action in a prompt and prudent manner, implying rapidity and diligence to the task.
• Skill and rapidity are not actually two DIFFERENT concepts here, but the two concepts are woven into one word.
• In some contexts the emphasis may be on the speed of the word done, and in other contexts the emphasis may be on the skill employed.
• In our proverb, since there is no context, the author may have intended us to understand the term in the BROAD sense, including both skill and speed in accomplishing a task.
3. In his business:
a. Strong’s: Occupation; work; business.
b. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: (1) Work; i.e., that which is done, workmanship; i.e., the result of one’s work… craftsmanship. (Ex.35:31)
c. This term is used of God’s creative “work,” of craftsmanship in building the furniture for the tabernacle, in agriculture, and for one’s personal property.
d. It is broad enough to include every kind of work.
4. Thus, a man who is “diligent in his business” is a man who is experienced in his field; he does not procrastinate, is quick to get the job done, and is therefore able to accomplish much and to do so at a high level of craftsmanship—regardless of the type of business.
a. You don’t get to that stage of workmanship by being lazy.
b. It does require diligence to attain that level of proficiency and expertise.
c. When someone is really good at something, they make it look easy. If you have ever seen a skilled singer, violinist, or skier, or golfer, or a gymnast—they always make it look easy, almost effortless.
d. What you didn’t see was of a life of diligence, training, practice, failures, tenacity, and all the blood, sweat, and tears involved in achieving their expertise.
e. Because he was diligent in his business, he is able to accomplish a lot with relative ease.
f. The lazy man would love to be able to accomplish as much with that kind of ease—but the lazy man is not willing to accept the fact that the “ease” is preceded by years of practice and training.
g. The lazy man wants the ease without the diligence… and it doesn’t happen.
5. SEE this man.
a. Solomon tells us to SEE (look; behold; observe) this man.
b. Pay attention to him…
c. Prov. 24:22 – Here the author tells us to “see” (observe with careful attention to detail) the lazy man’s overgrown farm.
d. There are things to be learned by observing different kinds of men… both the diligent and lazy. Good lessons can be seen in both of them.
e. First the author commands his readers to SEE the man who is diligent in his business.
• Think about HOW he got there.
• Think about what was involved in achieving such skill and proficiency.
• Think about all the labor and practice required to reach that level.
f. Some men might observe that skilled man and conclude, “It’s not worth it. It COST him too much to get there. I don’t want to have to do all that work. I don’t want to have to go through all that training. I want to take the easy way NOW and avoid the hard work of school, training, and practice.”
g. The purpose of this proverb is to convince the lazy man that all the hard work and practice IS worth it in the long run.
29b He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
1. The man who is experienced, skilled, proficient, and diligent DID have to suffer and sacrifice to achieve his skill and proficiency.
2. BUT (contrary to the thinking of the lazy man) it really is worth it in the end.
3. He will not stand before mean men.
a. Mean = obscure; unimportant; men on the low side of the social scale; insignificant men.
b. In other words, he will not remain at the bottom of the barrel. He will not remain at that entry level position.
c. He will not be doing lowly tasks and answer to insignificant men.
d. Instead, he shall stand before Kings – those in the highest positions of authority and power.
4. He shall stand before Kings and not before mean men.
a. STAND means to be stationed, to be set in place, to appear before formally; to stand out; to be presented before for service;
b. He might become an advisor to the king in his area of expertise. He might become part of the king’s court.
c. We might think of Joseph or Daniel. They were faithful and skilled men… and their skills and wisdom were noticed. As a result, they were promoted and stood before kings.
d. In other words, his skill and proficiency will result in promotions and rising to the top in his field.
e. And along with the promotion also comes greater compensation and opportunity.
f. The point of the proverb is that it is very BENEFICIAL to be diligent, skilled, efficient, and capable.
g. You will stand out in the crowd and your boss will notice and you will be promoted.
h. You will be presented before the leaders in your field for positions of higher service.
i. Prov. 10:4 – “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
• Diligence, practice, and hard work pay off!
• Those who pursue excellence in their work are successful.
• Some men seek to advance themselves by boasting, cheating, name dropping, or even bribes.
• Solomon says that the best way to advance is simply to do a good job!
• Demonstrate your skill, quality work, effectiveness, good craftsmanship, and proficiency and you will be rewarded. You may stand before kings!
5. Do not assume that this proverb is promoting raw ambition at the expense of one’s spiritual life or one’s family life.
a. That is not the intention. His point is simply that experience, skill, and proficiency have their benefits.
b. Don’t take this to the extreme to excuse poor choices in life of putting earthly achievements above one’s spiritual walk.
6. Also, there is great application here to one’s spiritual life.
a. Rom. 12:11 – As Christians, we are not to be slothful in business, but are to be fervent… diligent.
b. Diligence in the things of the Lord, exercise in godliness, being schooled and educated in the Scriptures, and learning to walk with God with ease have great advantages in the spiritual realm too.
c. There will be rewards for those who “go on to perfection” (maturity).
d. Heb. 6:11-12 – There is great benefit for those who show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end… and are not slothful but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
e. And those who demonstrate faithfulness, wisdom, skill, and proficiency in their daily walk will be presented before the Lord one day to receive a “well done thou good and faithful servant.”