Reading Proverbs Understand the Meaning of the Picture

Sometimes the writers of the Proverbs include a saying that is blunt. Do not do this…for this will happen. Sometimes the sayings are little pictures. Sometimes, like Jesus, the stories require work on our part to understand.

Once I quoted from the German writer Thomas Mann, “If everyone swept in front of their house, the whole world would be clean.” An engineer wrote to me and explained how that was impossible. He was thinking of a literal broom. Mann was most likely thinking of what would happen if each of us got ourselves in order first, rather than trying to fix everyone else.

Sometimes, like this one, the story is pretty clear.

“I passed by the field of one who was lazy,
by the vineyard of a stupid person;
and see, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,

and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want, like an armed warrior.”

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Proverbs 24

Avoiding laziness pops up often in the Proverbs. This is a nice little story to illustrate.

Get your 7-8 hours of sleep. Then get up and work on your field–whatever that field may be. I wrote a few days ago about the Japanese theory of ickigai–having a purpose to get out of bed in the morning. Find your purpose and work at it.

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