Proverbs 15:19

More Problems We Bring on Ourselves


1. In this section, Solomon speaks about various ways in which we bring trouble upon ourselves.

a. Vs.17 – greed – seeking earthly treasures often brings trouble to our homes.

b. Vs. 18 – uncontrolled anger also brings trouble to our lives… a life full of strife!

c. Vs. 19 – now Solomon speaks about how laziness can bring much trouble into our lives.

2. These are good things to know… for if we know these things, then we should be able to avoid much of this trouble in our lives.

a. Sometimes we as people INVITE trouble into our lives. Solomon teaches us here how to AVOID it.

b. By revealing the doors through which trouble enters our lives and homes… we then know which doors to SHUT in order to keep trouble out.

c. Once we know this, it is then up to us to KEEP those doors shut!

d. By knowing and practicing this, we are empowered with the God-given capacity to make our lives easier!

e. Let’s face it. Not all, but much of the trouble we face in life is self-inflicted!

19a The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns:

A. The Way of the Slothful Man

1. Slothful Defined: sluggish; lazy; pertaining to be slow to take any action; suggesting a lack of discipline or initiative; as a moral failure.

a. Solomon is describing the LAZY man, woman, or child.
• This is the person who doesn’t want to do his work;
• He always wants to do his chores mañana…
• He lets things pile up so much, that when he does decide to tackle the job, it is a mountain of work… overwhelming… too much… so he doesn’t bother trying.
• He lets work pile up because he lacks personal discipline.
• He lacks initiative and motivation. He needs a stick of dynamite placed under him to do his chores.
• This is the housewife who allows green fur grow in the refrigerator.
• This is the student who takes the book out of the library the night before the book report is due.
• This is the employee who won’t tackle an assigned project until the final warning comes from the front office.
• This is the teenager who won’t clean their room until the consequences are made clear: like no meals until it is done… or you’re missing the activity on Friday night if your room is not cleaned…
• Slothfulness takes on many forms and shapes.

b. This word is found only in the book of Proverbs… but appears often in this book—14 times.

c. This is so perhaps because there are a lot of good lessons for young men to learn from the sluggard… and that was Solomon’s purpose in writing the book—to give discretion and wisdom to young men.

2. The WAY of the slothful man revealed in Proverbs…

a. Prov. 6:9-10 – He sleeps and takes it easy when he should be working.

b. Prov. 10:26 – when he is assigned a job to do, he takes forever to finish it!

c. Prov. 20:4 – when it is time to plow, he comes up with an excuse:
• “It’s too cold out!” Lazy people have no lack of excuses for their laziness.
• 22:13 – “There’s a lion in the street!”… It’s too dangerous! This is just another excuse.

d. Prov. 21:25 – he refuses to labor. He is unwilling to work.
• This is not the man who, through no fault of his own has no job.
• This is the man who has work available to him, but he refuses to do it!
• It’s beneath him; he’s too important for a tedious task like that; etc…
• Prov. 26:16 – Pride is associated with laziness.

e. This is the WAY of the sluggard in Proverbs:
• He invents excuses not to work; he sleeps too much and is late or doesn’t show up; he has no motivation to work; and if he does work, he takes forever finishing the job; and sometimes he outright refuses to work.
• And this is a MORAL problem. It is not entirely genetic; it is not entirely cultural; it is not entirely a physical problem.
• It is a MORAL problem. Let’s call it what it is: laziness is SIN.

f. It is the result of BOTH nurture and nature.
• It is nurtured in children when parents don’t TRAIN their children to work…
» When children are left to themselves and not chastened or disciplined, they become UN-disciplined!
» In this sense it is LEARNED behavior.
» Parents who do everything for their children are actually nurturing… cultivating… encouraging laziness in their children.
• It is nature as well. It is part of our fallen nature to be lazy.
» It comes naturally… just like any other sin.
» Hence, this tendency in our fallen nature must be overcome by the indwelling Holy Spirit in the believer.
» Perhaps you know unsaved people who are not lazy.
» Well, that may be so—but they are diligent because they exert much EFFORT to overcome laziness.
» And they are MOTIVATED by many things to work hard (greed; pride; self respect; even phileo love… a natural, family love; etc…)
» Either way, it requires effort and motivation to overcome the natural tendency in us all to be lazy… and to let someone else do the work.

B. A Hedge of Thorns

1. A hedge of thorns described…

a. The way of the slothful man is characterized by a hedge of thorns.

b. If you are walking down the way… a pathway… a road… and you come to a hedge of thorns, it is a serious OBSTACLE to your progress!

c. That is the main point of this proverb: laziness will HINDER your progress in life… in every possible realm.

d. It will be an obstacle at your place of employment… in your home life… and especially in your spiritual life.

e. And laziness is a hedge of thorns (an obstacle; a hindrance) that we impose upon our own selves!

f. A hedge is hard enough to climb over as we travel down a pathway… but a hedge of thorns is especially hard to get over.

2. And when viewed from this perspective, it is so irrational for us to put a difficult obstacle in our OWN way!

a. Solomon is attempting to warn the lazy man about the LONG TERM consequences of his laziness.

b. The lazy man is lazy (presumably) because he does not like to do hard things… he likes to take it easy…

c. In the short term taking it easy might SEEM like the easy route.
• Think of the high school grad who is too lazy to go on to college.
• He thinks it’s easier to skip going on to school… so he opts for what he thinks is the easy route in life.
• In the short term, he is working at McDonald’s and has more spending money and more free time than his friends at college.
• In the short term he has taken the easy route.

d. But in the long term, it is the more DIFFICULT route!
• To his dismay, by and by, he discovers that by NOT going to school he has actually set up many roadblocks that he will have to hurdle LATER in life.
• Roadblocks full of painful thorns!
• When his friends are out of school, they will walk down life’s pathway and have many doors opened to them… because of their diligence.
• But their lazy classmate will walk down the same pathway in life and where his hard working friends find open doors, he finds many obstacles to his progress… hedges of thorns… obstacles of his own making!
• Don’t forget Solomon’s point here: Laziness is NOT the easy route in life. It is by far the more difficult route!

e. Apply this to our spiritual lives…
• The spiritually lazy man invents excuses too: “I can’t seem to get up in time for Sunday school. I don’t have time to read the Bible every day. I’m too tired on Wednesday nights to come to prayer meeting.” (There’s a lion in the street!)
• But when out of laziness we excuse ourselves from spiritual exercise (work!) we are building hedges of thorns for our pathway.
• Those hedges of thorns will eventually make life DIFFICULT for us a little farther down that pathway.
• We are constructing obstacles that will eventually HINDER our development and progress spiritually…
• You don’t know how many times as a pastor I have had to deal with this sort of thing.
» I spend six months teaching on an important practical subject during the evening service—because I know that ignorance of this subject causes believers to be confused and perhaps to stumble.
» Then someone (who does not come to evening service) comes to me all upset because he is confused over this issue…
» Could it be that the trouble and confusion he is dealing with is a thorny hedge of his own making… because he was too tired to come to evening service… or because there was a lion in the street?!
» When we are spiritually lazy and slothful, we bring MUCH spiritual trouble into our lives and into our families… and into the church!
» Heb. 6:11-12 – be diligent, not slothful.
→ What precipitated this exhortation?
→ Cf. 5:14 – they were not exercising themselves spiritually…
→ Spiritual laziness resulted in a thorny hedge for these believers… they lost their discernment… and became dull… blind… and immature.
→ Their spiritual laziness not only hindered their spiritual progress. It resulted in spiritual regression.

19b But the way of the righteous is made plain

1. Notice that the opposite of a slothful man is a righteous man in this proverb!

2. The righteous man is one who does things right.

a. He does his work diligently… and on time.

b. He doesn’t make up excuses.

c. He doesn’t refuse to do his chores.

d. He doesn’t procrastinate.

e. He doesn’t take a nap when it’s time to work.

f. He doesn’t take forever to get his job done.

3. The righteous man takes the RIGHT route.

a. It might be more difficult up front… but in the long run, it makes his life EASIER!

b. Instead of finding his way strewn with thorny hedges, his way is PLAIN.
• Plain = to cast or lift up.
• It is used in good and evil senses.
• In an evil sense it is used of being lifted up in pride or rebellion.
• But here it is used of the process of “lifting up” a road and making it a bit higher than the land around it for a smoother ride.

4. Consider the trouble from which the hard worker is delivered:

a. Prov. 10:26 – people will be irritated with you—loss of friends.

b. 13:4 – a life overflowing with unfulfilled desires… always craving and never obtaining.

c. 20:4 – poverty and hunger is the result of laziness. That is a thorny hedge of his own making. (24:30-34)