26 June 2009

The Sluggard



It's one of those old fashioned words that fascinate me. It even sounds like what it means. Another example is vexed. Or reverie. Or to make merry! It's sad that these wondrous words have fallen away from our tongues, neglected and locked in eloquence past...

Sluggard. It means so much more than we think. Expand your vocabulary and your understanding by considering these words about The Sluggard as described in Proverbs:

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.  


(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  


(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…  


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.  


‐Derek Kidner, Proverbs (IVP, 1964), pp. 42–43. (bold emphasis mine)

Quoted from Sovereign Grace Ministries

Suddenly, sluggard doesn't seem so old fashioned and out of date as I thought. In fact, if I put my name in place of The Sluggard, those words read uncomfortably familiar to my own experience. Of myself. 

Oh! I don't like that. Now I am vexed! I shall escape the discomfort with some sort of reverie... day dreaming... or TV ~ that's even easier. Oh, but wait! There goes The Sluggard (in me) again...

Reminds me of Romans 7:15-25. I do not understand my own actions. I am baffled, bewildered. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe, which my moral instinct condemns.

I can will, want to do, even promise myself that I will do, what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.

For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am ever, it seems, doing.

O unhappy and pitiable and wretched person that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death?

O thanks be to God! He will! Through Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, my Lord!

Now there is great reason to make merry!


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