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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 24:30-34 the field of a lazy man

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 23, 2019

The lazy man or “sluggard” (NIV) is almost a comic caricature, except that so many of us know someone who is just like this. Most of us see the danger of this man’s life as a shadow lurking our own lives or in our past. It is a sobering and horrifying thought: But for the grace of God, this might have been me…

Earlier in the book, he is shown to be someone who never finishes anything. Once he has caught an animal in a trap, he can’t be bothered to cook it (Proverbs 12:27). More than that, there are many things he won’t even start! Won’t you get out of bed, you lazy good-for-nothing (Proverbs 6:9)? And he makes excuses for everything: “There’s a lion outside!” (Proverbs 22:13a), “I might be murdered in the street!” (Proverbs 22:13b). He won’t plow when it’s time (Proverbs 20:4) and that means he won’t harvest anything, ever. Here in the final verses of chapter 24, the wise man learns something from the lazy man:

30 I passed by the field of a lazy man,
  and passed the vineyard of a man with no common sense,
31 and it was all overgrown with thorns.
  The ground was covered with weeds,
  and its stone wall was broken into ruins.
32 I thought about what I saw,
  and as I looked I learned a lesson:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
  a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
  and scarcity like an armed foe.

The things that should supply a man with his basic needs, his field and his vineyard, need tending. This, perhaps, is the reason for the statement in Genesis 2: “No shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up” before God created Adam (Genesis 2:5). Although plants and trees had been brought into being on the Third Day of Creation (Genesis 1:11-12), God seems to have held back some of those plants that require human tending in order to show how they could be truly useful to mankind. But the lazy man doesn’t bother even though the Lord has given him a wonderful gift. The walls are in ruins so that foxes can come in and eat whatever fruit is there (Song of Solomon 2:15; cp. Nehemiah 4:3). And as for thorns—what should only come because of God’s curse on sin (Genesis 3:18) has overgrown the lazy man’s whole field. He doesn’t learn his lesson, but the wise man doesn’t take long at all to learn from all this.

The wise man can apply this proverb to any part of life:

Young parents! Look around you at your neighbors. Have they raised their children with a Christian example? Have they been firm with the law, encouraging with the gospel, quick to forgive and quicker to love? Have they made going to worship the priority of their week? Have they made singing about their faith part of their life at home? Is there a nativity scene that never seems to get taken down? Is there a cross on the child’s room for a young heart to ponder; to consider the suffering of the Savior for their sins?

Or are they parents who have been spiritually lazy? Parents who tell their children what they expect, but never model it; never do it? What are their children like as they grow up?

Young parents, think about what you see. It doesn’t take much for an act, or an inaction, to become a routine, for a routine to become a pattern, for a pattern to become a habit, and for a habit to become the path the family will take in their spiritual lives. This is a path that can become overrun with weeds and overgrown with thorns in a hurry. The walls of the church for that family can begin to fall down, and the walls of faith can begin to disappear, scarcely able to defend against the smallest fox who slips in.

If you are not a young parent, find another way, a similar way, to nest this important parable in your heart. Let these words settle down into your way of thinking about the world and about your life. Lazy or wise? A crumbling wall or a strong tower? Thorns and weeds, or a harvest of souls? What could you do if you made a change, just one change, today?

Poverty of one kind or another will come like a robber. Scarcity of some sort will come like an armed man. Wouldn’t a poverty of money or a scarcity of food be better than a famine of the word of God and for the cistern of your faith to run bone dry? The wise man would see to it that, as far as he is able, no poverty and no scarcity would ever come. Trust that God will take care of your needs, but be a tool in God’s toolkit to do your work faithfully in the time he has given you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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