“Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” -
Proverbs19:15 (Cf. 6:9–11; 10:4).
I’ve always been tickled by the Bible use of the word “sloth” or in this case, “slothfulness” in describing either laziness of a failure to pursue a task or objective with appropriate energy. I did a little looking around and discovered that the word comes from the late 12c. And speaks of the "indolence, sluggishness," which formed from Middle English slou, slowe. It actually replaced the Old English slæwð "sloth, indolence." It gives the sense of "slowness, tardiness" and is from the mid-14c. It was considered to be one of the deadly sins, and as such it translates an old Latin word: accidia. Once it began to move over in to common usage, the unfamiliar Latin and Middle English forms changed in a reference to the slow-moving mammal first so called @1610s, a translation of Portuguese preguiça "slowness, slothfulness," from Latin pigritia "laziness" and is comparable to the Spanish word perezosa "slothful," also "the sloth"). In George Washington’s journals, interestingly, we find an attributing of one of his victories to an energetic pursuit of tactics compared to the “slothfulness” of the British General Howe who was his adversary in the battle in view.
Interestingly, the actual word “slothfulness” (or laziness, depending upon what version you are reading) appears only 18 times, as “lazy” or “laziness”, 15 of those times in Proverbs, one other in Ecclesiastes, and two in the NT, once in Matthew and once in Titus. It is not surprising that all of the OT references occur in the writing of Solomon, who had a great concern that men conduct themselves in a way that best and most fully serves the purposes and end goals of their Lord and Master, Yahweh. The Hebrew word translated here actually refers to slackness (as opposed to rope or line being pulled tight). It can speak of sluggishness, thinking of the idea, perhaps of a stream or river that is not moving as rapidly as it might, but his little current. One can see that it is a very graphic or picturesque word that carries a very powerful, useful and instructive concept for us to take to heart and to put into action.
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