“The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.”
A strong work ethic is a distinguishing characteristic of committed followers of Christ. God created us to be workers, and Jesus redeemed us to be workers. Laziness has no place in the kingdom of God, and scripture repeatedly denounces those who don’t work hard.
In this proverb, Solomon describes the sluggard -- the lazy person -- in graphic, almost humorous terms. How lazy is the sluggard? He is so lazy that he puts his hand into the dish to grab food, but doesn’t have the energy to bring his hand back to the dish. Can you see the picture? The lazy person is sitting at the table, slouched over, hand in the bowl, doing nothing. Not even hunger can motivate him to finish the job by lifting his hand and the food to his mouth. Lazy indeed!
“Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.”
“Scoffers” are hard-hearted people who resist and reject instruction and correction, and they refuse to learn … even when they are disciplined. “The simple,” on the other hand, are people in need of instruction and correction, and who will respond to discipline. The third category of person in this proverb is “a man of understanding.” This person understands that he needs to learn, and is hungry for instruction and correction. He is humble, hungry, and coachable.
This proverb invites readers to evaluate themselves. What kind of learner are you:
- Person of understanding?
The answer is revealed in how you respond to instruction and correction. This aligns with the central theme of the book of Proverbs, which is musar ... the disciplined process of learning wisdom and skill. The Lord wants us to be wise and skillful, and that only happens if we are teachable and coachable.