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The Lazy Person is the Foremost Fool
Proverbs 10:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
A slack hand causes poverty: The Hebrew noun rendered slack (רְמִיָּה remiyyah) is of one who is lax and neglectful in their responsibilities. It can also be rendered “deceitful” (Job 13:7; Ps. 120:2, 3; Hos. 7:16; Jer. 48:10), with the two thoughts easily operating parallel to each other. This person is characterized by laziness, indolence, and a lack of ambition. He constantly refuses to work or show any diligence in his life. He is slow and sluggish about anything he has to do, any activity. Hand (כַּף kaph) is used figuratively and symbolically throughout the Scriptures. The hand here is used to represent the person himself, as a slack hand is a lazy person. Poverty (רוּשׁ rush) means to have little wealth or to become poor. One does not have enough income to acquire the bare necessities of life. Here, poverty does not come about by unforeseen or unexpected events befalling a person. Poverty is the direct result of the person being too lazy to do the required work to acquire the minimum needs in life.
but the hand of the diligent makes rich: Here, too, the hand is used to represent the person himself, as the hand of the diligent (חָרוּץ charuts) is a hard-working, industrious person. A diligent person is characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out what needs to be done. This person is persistently industrious in carrying out his tasks. The Hebrew verb (עָשַׁר ashar) means simply to be or become rich or wealthy. This is relative to the context. Rich here, in this context, is a contrast of one who has the basic needs of life over one who does not. Suppose you have never lived on both sides of the poverty line. In that case, you will have a difficult time visualizing how a person who does not have enough income to acquire the bare necessities of life for their family can see a neighbor who has such basics as being rich. Riches (having basic necessities of life) are the result of hard work, and poverty (not having bare necessities) is brought on by laziness. The bare necessities of life are food, clothing, shelter, and health.
The proverb is elementary, really. The lazy one will find himself and his family impoverished, not having the bare necessities of life. However, with hard work, one can become rich in the bare necessities of life, which are food, clothing, shelter, and health. Diligence leads to wealth, just as laziness leads to poverty. One of the main themes in Proverbs is the contrast between the hard worker and the lazy person. (10:4; 12:24; 13:4; 14:23; 15:19; 16:26; 18:9; 20:13; 21:17, 25-26; 28:19) Diligence is the guaranteed way (barring any unforeseen or unexpected occurrences) to gain prosperity, and laziness is the quickest way to poverty. The lazy person is the foremost fool who ends up destitute.