The Soul of the Sluggard
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.-Proverbs 13:4
He desires knowledge, but does not care to be at any pains to get it, and so has it not; he desires riches, but chooses not to make use of the means, to be diligent and industrious, and so he is without them; he desires to wear good clothes and rich raiment, but is unwilling to labour for them, and therefore is clothed with rags; he desires food, and plenty of it, but refuses to work for it; and he that will not work should not eat, and therefore he has it not, but starves and famishes: and, in spiritual things, the sluggard desires heaven and happiness, but does not care to do the duties of religion; he would die the death of the righteous, but is unwilling to live his life; to abstain from sin, and live soberly and righteously, is too hard service for him; he does not choose to do or suffer anything for the cause of Christ and true religion. Jarchi’s note is, that
“in the future state he shall see the glory of the wise man, and desire it; but shall not attain to it;”
but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat; become rich; increase in temporal things, and have great plenty and prosperity; and so, in spiritual matters, such who are diligent in the use of means, constantly attend on the word and ordinances, and labour for the meat which endures to everlasting life; such are filled and satisfied, as with marrow and fatness; and become fat and flourishing, and fruitful in every good word and work; and shall at last arrive to that state where there will be no more hunger and thirst.”
Here is, 1. The misery and shame of the slothful. See how foolish and absurd they are; they desire the gains which the diligent get, but they hate the pains which the diligent take; they covet every thing that is to be coveted, but will do nothing that is to be done; and therefore it follows, They have nothing; for he that will not labour let him hunger, and let him not eat, 2 Thess. 3:10. The desire of the slothful, which should be his excitement, is his torment, which should make him busy, makes him always uneasy, and is really a greater toil to him than labour would be. 2. The happiness and honour of the diligent: Their soul shall be made fat; they shall have abundance, and shall have the comfortable enjoyment of it, and the more for its being the fruit of their diligence. This is especially true in spiritual affairs. Those that rest in idle wishes know not what the advantages of religion are; whereas those that take pains in the service of God find both the pleasure and profit of it.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; literally, and nothing is there—he gains nothing (Pro. 14:6; Pro. 20:4). He has the wish, but not the will, and the empty wish without corresponding exertion is useless (Pro. 21:25, etc.). Vulgate, “The indolent wishers, and wishes not;” he wishes for something, but he wishes not for the labour of getting it; he would like the result, but he hates the process by which the result is to be obtained. Septuagint, “In desires every idle man is occupied;” his mind is fixed wholly on aimless wishes, not on action. Shall be made fat (Pro. 11:25); Septuagint, “The hands of the valiant are fully occupied (ἐν ἐπιμελείᾳ).”