Read Part 1: Slackerly Sloths
than seven men that can render a reason.”
Strong's H6102: עָצֵל ʻâtsêl, aw-tsale'; from H6101; indolent:—slothful, sluggard.
sluggard (n.)Another animal that was named after an old biblical word because of its unique characteristics is the common garden slug. Slugs are well-known garden pests whose behavior has been extensively studied in order to better learn how to control and, to be quite frank, eradicate (kill) them. These are similar to snails but most slugs have no external shell:
late 14c., late 13c. as a surname, "habitually lazy person," from Middle English sluggi "sluggish, indolent," probably from a Scandinavian word such as dialectal Norwegian slugga "be sluggish," dialectal Norwegian sluggje "heavy, slow person," dialectal Swedish slogga "to be slow or sluggish."
"shell-less land snail," 1704, originally "lazy person" (early 15c.); related to sluggard.
A slug is any snail in which the shell is completely lost, or buried in the mantle. If land snails are an unlikely proposition, then slugs seem doubly unlikely — but there are some 500 species of terrestrial slugs, and approximately 1000 species of land-dwelling “semi-slugs” in which the shell has become reduced to the point where the animal cannot withdraw fully into it.
Slugs are slow creeping creatures that can severely damage growing plants. Without a shell they are quite obviously vulnerable to natural predators. These two descriptions alone provide applications to the biblical description of a sluggard. In the Bible sluggards are negligent about the Word of God – i.e, not hearing nor diligently searching the Scriptures, which is the Word of life.
In contrast to sluggard, Proverbs suggests that we emulate the characteristics of the ant. A recent fascinating article in Entymology Today reports that "Ants Can Lift up to 5,000 Times Their own Body Weight, New Study Suggests."
In a contrast to a sluggard's sluggish complacency, notice Paul's active stance in the following declaration:
that I may rejoice in the day of Christ,
that I have not run in vain,
neither laboured in vain.”
The following commentary admonishes believers to avoid being a sluggard in understanding the mysteries of the Gospel. Below are reasons to more diligently study the Bible.
Hearers [of the Word] do greatly need the exercise of it. They are apt to be slothful and weary; many begin to run well, but are quickly ready to faint [due to]...
- weariness of the flesh;
- self-conceit of having attained what is sufficient, perhaps more than others;
- curiosity and itching ears, in attending unto novelties;
- dislike of that holiness and fruitfulness of life which an increase of [biblical] knowledge openly tends unto;
- misspending on the one hand, or covetousness of time for the occasions of life on the other;
- any prevailing corruption of mind or affections;
- the difficulty that is in coming to the knowledge of truth in a due manner, making the sluggard cry, “There is a lion in the streets;” (Prov. 26:13 and Prov. 22:13)
And if there be no [teachers] to
- excite, warn, and admonish them;
- discover the variety of the pretenses whereby men in this matter deceive themselves;
- lay open the snares and dangers which hereby they cast themselves into;
- mind them of the excellency of the things of the Gospel and the knowledge of them which are proposed before them;
it cannot be but that by these means their spiritual condition will be prejudiced, if not their souls ruined.
Yea, sometimes men are so captivated under the power of these temptations and seductions, and are furnished with such pleas in the defense of their own sloth and negligence, as that they must be dealt wisely and gently with in admonitions concerning them, lest they be provoked or discouraged....
[W]hen seducers abound, false doctrines are divulged and speciously obtruded. Wherein there are so many wolves abroad in sheep's clothing, and so great an opposition is on all hands made to the truth of the Gospel, for any to hold out firm and unshaken unto the end their minds [must be] inlaid and fortified with a sound, well grounded knowledge of the mysteries of the Gospel....
God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
received up into glory.”
(1 Tim. 3:16)
and hold fast,
If therefore thou shalt not watch,
I will come on thee as a thief,
and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
4. D. W. Burton, "HOW TO BE SLUGGISH," Zoology Department, Victoria University of Wellington, N.Z., TUATARA: VOLUME 25, ISSUE 2, JANUARY 1982, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Bio25Tuat02-t1-body-d2.html. This is an interesting article but full of evolutionary teaching.
5. Gardening enthusiasts will recognize the slug as a nuisance. Read all about how to control slugs here: http://www.weekendgardener.net/how-to/snails-slugs.htm
6. "Ants Can Lift up to 5,000 Times Their own Body Weight, New Study Suggests," Entymology Today, 2/11/14, https://entomologytoday.org/2014/02/11/ants-can-lift-up-to-5000-times-their-own-body-weight-new-study-suggests/
7. John Owen, D.D. (1616-1683), Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 4, Reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, pp 548-549. Excerpted, edited and adapted for modern blog posting by updating grammar, spelling, word usage and punctuation.