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Are You Asleep to Your Responsibilities?
Proverbs 6:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 your poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and your want like an armed man.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard: Here how long (ʿǎḏ mā·ṯǎy) if taken literally, it is a question about the length of time, or it can be taken as a sarcastic rhetorical question, “are you going to sleep forever!” If we go back to the Bible background of a worker who is gathering crops during the harvest time, he is working from daylight to dark because it is imperative that the crops not be left too long in the field when they are ready for harvest, toward the end of May or in the first week in June. The weather is hot, and it rarely rained in the Promised Land in ancient times during the harvest time. Harvest time meant the entire family, all of its members would be living in the fields until the harvest was over. Thus, the sluggard, a lazy, sluggish person, who is always lying down on the job would be very unwelcome, family or not. The harvest of saving souls today through our evangelism is comparable. Are we going to be asleep to our privileges when we could be sharing the Gospel (biblical truths) with others, lying down on the one Job that Jesus Christ gave all Christians (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8), as opposed to being prepared to make a defense for the faith? – Colossians 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:15, 25; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 1:3.
When will you arise from your sleep: The sluggard is seen here as sleeping. This too is a rhetorical question, such as the Good News Translation GNT (TEV) “When is he ever going to get up?” Using two rhetorical questions, Solomon has tried to awaken this slothful one from his idleness and laziness.
A little sleep, a little slumber: Here Solomon is mimicking this lazy person in speech, whom he has just asked, “are you going to sleep forever!” Now, Solomon sarcastically is saying something like, “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there.” The Message (MSG)
A little folding of the hands to rest: Solomon continues to mimic this lazy one here, with his sarcasm (sit back, take it easy, MSG), as the folding of the hands is referring to a person who has lied down to relax, rest and sleep, so he has crossed his hands over their chest.
Your poverty will come upon you like a robber: While the lazy one is taking ‘a nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sitting back, taking it easy,’ poverty (Heb. rêš ʾǎt·tā(h), your poverty) suddenly and powerfully he is overtaken with the speed of a bandit.
And your want like an armed man: In addition, scarcity, shortage, and insufficiency attacks the sluggard like an armed man. In other words, this lazy one has no money and no goods, so he cannot financially support himself. Just how long would an employer suffer the loss of time of a sluggish, lazy, idle employee? What about a lazy, sluggish student who is negligent, slack, lax attitude, and unwilling to study but expects to receive a good grade in school? How will our heavenly Father feel about a lazy, sluggish Christian who is negligent, slack, lax attitude, and unwilling to study the Bible to prepare for Christian meetings, to share the Gospel but expects to receive eternal life? – Matthew 7:21-23.
Asking questions that he really expects no answers to, Solomon makes a valiant attempt at getting the lazy one to rise up from his sluggishness. The reality that escapes the lazy one is that while he is slumbering, poverty overtakes him with quickness, like a robber. The work that needed to be carried out, soon overtakes him, such as his fields where he should have been raising crops; ‘thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground and its walls were broken down.’ (Pro 24:30-31) Yes, laziness has only but one end in sight, poverty.