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Go to the ant, O lazy one,
watch its ways and become wise. Bible

“lazy one.” The Hebrew word is atsel (#06102 עָצֵל), and it means “lazy, idle, slow, sluggish.” The opposite is “diligent.” The word occurs 14 times in Proverbs (Prov. 6:6, 9; 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13, 14, 15, 16). It refers to one who is habitually lazy. According to Proverbs, the lazy man should learn from others, even nature itself (Prov. 6:6); will become poor (Prov. 6:9-11; 24:30-34); is a problem for those who rely on him (Prov. 10:26); has great desires, even craving and coveting throughout his days, but nothing to show for it (Prov. 13:4; 21:26); has a lifestyle that causes pain to himself and others (Prov. 15:19); goes hungry even when there is an opportunity to get food (Prov. 19:24; 26:15); will not do hard, productive work, so he will lack in life (Prov. 20:4) and may even die both physically and everlastingly (Prov. 21:25); makes up excuses to keep him from working (Prov. 22:13; 26:13); spends too much time in bed (Prov. 26:14); and thinks he knows more than everyone else (Prov. 26:16). Laziness is a character flaw, surely, but it is more that that. Proverbs contrasts the lazy person with the upright person (Prov. 15:19) and the righteous person (Prov. 21:26), so as well as being a character flaw, it is a moral issue. The lazy person is poor, but is never equated with the other “poor” in Proverbs whose poverty is beyond their control. Thus it is important to notice that, while generosity to the poor and needy is extolled in Proverbs (cp. commentary on Prov. 19:17), no one is instructed to give to the lazy who are poor. Proverbs 21:25 should arrest our attention, because it says, “The desire of the lazy man kills him.” The use of terms relating to life and death in Proverbs mean more than just life or death on this earth, and often extend to everlasting life or death. This is one of those verses, and the lazy person, who “never gets around” to learning about God, fearing God, and obeying God, will die not only temporally, but eternally.


Commentary for: Proverbs 6:6