Proverbs 15:19
  “The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.” – Proverbs 15:19 (Cp. 22:13; 26:13).

    This is very similar to another verse in Proverbs: Proverbs 18:9 speaks of the effect of “sloth” on the one who is slothful:

He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.


    I’m not really sure which of those is the worst charge to lay at the feet of the one defined as “slothful”; but neither of them is complimentary, that much is certain.  Laziness or unproductiveness is never spoken of in a positive way As work is hallowed by God’s working, idleness is regarded as a sin against oneself and society.  In fact 
    Because of his past actions and resultant lack of God’s blessing, the life of the
sluggard has become like a hedge of thorns, which can be traversed only with great pain and effort.  
    The short phrase “The way of” is used in a number of different ways in the OT.  It can speak, obviously, of the path that one takes from one way to another.  In many cases it can and does speak of an habitual path or habit, one regularly taken.  The use of the definite article here indicates, obviously, a particular “path”.  If way was plural it could be speaking more of how the “sloth” trait manifests itself in the life of the one in view.
    A Sluggard then, is someone characterized by a settled attitude of slothfulness and idleness. That is what Solomon described, at least in part, as “the way of the sluggard”.  Such people are consistently condemned throughout Scripture.  There is a fairly complete definition of a sluggard found in the Bible:
·        Sluggards are characterised by slothfulness and idleness
·        They are lazy and refuse to work Pr 6:6-8 See also Pr 12:27; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 24:30-31; 26:15
·        They love to stay in bed when they should be up and active Pr 6:9 See also Pr 26:14
·        They make excuses to avoid work Pr 22:13 See also Pr 26:13
·        Their desires are not met Pr 13:4 See also Pr 20:4; 21:25-26
·        Their laziness leads to poverty Pr 6:10-11 See also Pr 10:4-5; 12:24; 18:9; 19:15; 20:13; 24:33-34; Ecc 4:5; 10:18
·        Their attitude is irritating to others Pr 10:26
·        They are often quite conceited Pr 26:16

So we can easily see why sluggards condemned throughout Scripture:
·        In the book of Proverbs Pr 10:4 See also Pr 6:6-11; 12:11,24,27; 13:4; 14:23; 18:9; 28:19
·        By Jesus Christ Mt 20:3,6; 25:24-30
·        In the epistles 1Th 5:14 See also 2Th 3:6,10-11; 1Ti 5:13; Tit 1:12; 3:14; Heb 6:12
    In a semi-sarcastic fashion (though certainly not untrue!) we’re told that a
lazy or “slothful” person can find all kinds of obstacles (e.g., a path blocked with briers) to avoid work (see Proverbs 10:4, 26; Proverbs 12:11, 14; Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 14:4).
    We’re also told that there are any number of sources for sluggardliness or laziness:
·        Excessive sleep (Prov. 6:9–11) can lead, we’re told, to a more habitual laziness or sluggardliness. 
·        Interestingly, what we could call “Purposeful” Laziness can lead to what, I suppose we could see as a more habitual, or “way of the sluggard” - Prov. 19:15, 24
·        What the Bible calls “Indifference” (Judg. 18:9) can result, because of that lack of motivation to do and accomplish what is needful and profitable, result in sluggardliness.
·        Prov. 21:25 tells us that the indulgence of personal desires can bring about the pursuit of laziness in a person. 
·        It is interesting to note also that what Solomon calls “fearful imaginations” can result in laziness - Prov. 22:13

    The passage in view speaks of “the way” of the sluggard or lazy man.  We’ve noted that the “way” refers to the life habit or manner that a person lives in.  This does not mean that such a one never works of always sleeps or such things.  But such a person is not one who applies him (or her) self to the pursuit of work and other matters that require a work-like approach.  This is the reason why Solomon, and the rest of the Bible makes very clear what can happen as a result of allowing the “way of the sluggard” to be in control of our lives.
    It can, for instance, brings hunger where diligent work will provide what is necessary for living.  Prov. 19:15 speaks of it in terms of effects of the “sleep” that comes as a result of laziness.  One of them is the inability to provide food for the table:

15     Laziness casts one into a deep sleep,
And
an idle person will suffer hunger. (Proverbs 19:15) 

    Most of those who are habitual, who follow the way of the sluggard” find that, oddly enough, the pleasure in it quickly leads to poverty.
    In Proverbs 20:4 Solomon makes it eloquently clear:

4      The lazy man will not plow because of winter;
He will beg during harvest and have nothing. 


    It seems, at times, that the desire for slack cause our thinking to become twisted.  Because it is easy to fall into this twisted thinking we must discipline ourselves to live and behave rightly.  This is yet another area of life where it is far smarter and better for us to hear and heed what the Bible very clearly teaches us and try and come up with our own opinion.  Sadly, there are many who simply follow their own “way”, and suffer the consequences in doing so.  Sloth is only one of those matters.
    The Bible is also quite clear in that it teaches that sluggardliness ultimately produces waste in a wide number of areas in life and in all that touches us.  Proverbs 18:9 teaches this in a rather clear and direct fashion:

9      He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer. 


    The “destroyer” is speaking of one who invades the nation for military reasons.  It is also used to speak of a special agent sent by God as an instrument of judgment.  For instance, in the account of the Passover, those judgments inflicted by God on Egypt even before Israel was released and headed for the Promised land were called acts of the “destroyer” upon Egypt.  It is interesting that this “destroyer” is called the “great destroyer”, implying that it is even more than what would be spoken of as a destroyer, its’ destroying ability is “great” or immense.  This is especially significant when we remember that we are not talking about a judgment of God.  It is simply a failing of the individual.  Yet it is a “brother” to the “great destroyer”.  The damage it wreaks is terrible damage!  It is certainly something to be sure that one avoids!

    Further, we are told that being a sluggard can cause “decay”.  Ecclesiastes 10:18 tells us that the indulgence in sluggardliness can result in things that are very needed going undone:

18  Because of laziness the building decays,
And through idleness of hands the house leaks. 


    Another matter that results from laziness is that it may result in what Solomon refers to as “forced labor”:

24  The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the lazy man will be put to forced labor. (Proverbs 12:24) 


    He will be such because his sluggardliness causes him to, by force, to be in submission to the ruler. 

Interpretation.
    This proverb may be understood in two ways: That the slothful man, by not husbanding his resources and improving his opportunities, makes or increases his own difficulties in life. That, to excuse from trouble, he imagines or exaggerates obstacles. In whichever way we take it, the “slothful,” one who shirks the duty of labor, is contrasted with the “righteous,” who recognizes and endeavors to fulfil his duty. The latter finds difficulties grow less and less, and goes forward on a way which is, as it were, “paved” under his feet, a “highway” cast up before him.

Illustrations.
     There is a temptation to exaggerate difficulties, nay, to create imaginary ones, which, if yielded to, paralyzes the energies. Especially is this the case when the duty before one is irksome or distasteful. A slothful man will shirk most of his duties under such a plea. But anyone who begins to do this may soon become slothful. Let me ever set duty before me as the great business of life. The man of duty thinks no obstacles insurmountable, and finds none. By prayer and perseverance all are gradually overcome. No honest heart will invent “a hedge of thorns” or a “lion in the way,” nor readily give ear to such fables to excuse inertness. Yet nothing is more easy than for one who has no mind to labour to find pretexts for idleness. The risks to such are inevitable, they will increase, and prove fatal in the end. While all the time it is the voice of sloth within, whispering, “Spare thyself.” When tempted by this voice, let me bethink myself of the great deeds done, and how they were brought to pass. Mine be the way of the righteous, upon which God’s blessing rests. This, though not without thorns and lions, will prove safest, and become a paved causeway upon which I shall walk cheerily.


Application.
     There is a temptation to exaggerate difficulties, nay, to create imaginary ones, which, if yielded to, paralyzes the energies. Especially is this the case when the duty before one is irksome or distasteful. A slothful man will shirk most of his duties under such a plea. But anyone who begins to do this may soon become slothful. Let me ever set duty before me as the great business of life. The man of duty thinks no obstacles insurmountable, and finds none. By prayer and perseverance all are gradually overcome. No honest heart will invent “a hedge of thorns” or a “lion in the way,” nor readily give ear to such fables to excuse inertness. Yet nothing is more easy than for one who has no mind to labour to find pretexts for idleness. The risks to such are inevitable, they will increase, and prove fatal in the end. While all the time it is the voice of sloth within, whispering, “Spare thyself.” When tempted by this voice, let me bethink myself of the great deeds done, and how they were brought to pass. Mine be the way of the righteous, upon which God’s blessing rests. This, though not without thorns and lions, will prove safest, and become a paved causeway upon which I shall walk cheerily.


 


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