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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 26:12-15 The lazy man

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, February 1, 2020

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
  There is more hope for a fool than for him.

This proverb makes the transition in this chapter between sayings about the fool to sayings about the lazy man.

“To admit no man to share one’s counsel is a sign of folly” (Chrysostom, in his commentary on Galatians 1:17). Earlier, Solomon said, “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:7). The second line of that verse tells us the true problem with the fool in this verse. If he thinks he is wise but has no faith in God, he isn’t wise at all; this is at the core of his foolishness, which is identical in Proverbs with unbelief.

Godly wisdom is faith in Christ. This faith teaches us that we are not wise at all apart from faith. Man’s great enemy is the devil, but too often we do all the devil’s work for him, letting ourselves get puffed up because we think the great gifts God gives—intellect, curiosity, wealth, etc.—are our own doing. But “To fall away from God is the beginning of sin” (Sirach 10:18).

13 The lazy man says, “There is a ferocious lion in the road!
  A lion is in the park!”

The word I’ve translated “park” is really the rachob, a broad, open plaza where people gathered in a city to hear a speaker or to enjoy the outdoors with their neighbors. “Park” is a word I hoped the modern reader would equate with such things.

Since this is a proverb about a lazy man, we understand that he lies about a lion in order to get out of work of some kind. The same proverb could be said about a fool or other sinners, but the lazy man lies to promote his laziness. There is a task at hand for the kingdom of God, and the lazy man finds a reason not to do it.

This is especially a warning against lazy parents; those who deceive themselves into thinking that it would be better to let their child decide for himself whether to believe in God or not, whether to learn about Jesus or not. Whether to spend eternity roasting hell or not. They steal from that child the childhood faith in Christ which the very old and those who are close to death cherish above all else. When the elderly lose their memories, they cling to their faith. The memories that last the longest in our minds are those that we have had the longest. The lazy parent simply doesn’t feel like looking at his own mortality; at his own faith. He finds every excuse not to take his child, his wife, and his own lazy carcass, into the pew.

The lazy liar never dreams that the lie, “A lion is in the road!” is actually true. The lion is the devil (1 Peter 5:8), and when he tempts anyone to turn away from Christ, his battle is won.

14 A door turns on its hinges,
  and the lazy man turns on his bed.

A door is designed to turn and yet go nowhere; a lazy man turns in his bed and goes nowhere simply because of his sinful laziness. Applied to Christian faith, this proverb is about the change that should happen after the law crushes us over our sins. The lazy man goes right back to his sin because it is as comfortable and as inviting as his warm, cozy bed. But the diligent Christian wants to do something about his life and about his faith, and so he jumps up to amend his sinful life. He will fail now and then, as David and Peter did, but God will be with him.

15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl,
  but he is too tired to bring it back to his mouth.

This is repeated from 19:24. The sinful man doesn’t realize that if a job is worth starting, it’s worth completing. This is someone who makes endless excuses not to do a thing, even though it’s the task to be done. When God gives us any task to do, even the dull, ordinary tasks of everyday life like changing diapers, cleaning the cat box, taking the dog out for his walk, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or reading a devotion from Pastor Smith that’s at least a page too long, we should delight in doing those things because they were given to us by God. If God chose me for a dangerous escapade, wouldn’t I do it with fear, wondering why he didn’t choose someone else? Well, the Lord chose you and me for many routine things in homes that have heat in the winter and comfortable beds. Do those things with joy and out of love for Christ. Recognize that when you and I do what God would have us do, it delights him, and we are doing our part to carry forward his plan for mankind.

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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