Hebrew Wisdom on Diligence and Laziness


Solomon, the wisest man ever to have lived according to Hebrew teachings observed life and classified people into two broad categories, the wise and the foolish, and he disdained folly while hailing wisdom. Folly refers to foolishness or the lack of good sense while wisdom refers to the quality of being wise where one possesses the quality of having good judgment, knowledge, and experience. A decision or action is considered sound and wise if it applies good judgment, knowledge, and experience. While wisdom is given by God, the bible views folly or foolishness as manmade and thus undesirable. According to Hebrew wisdom, God grants wisdom in order that his people may apply knowledge correctly and rightly. In the absence of a relationship with God, one would lack wisdom, which implies that one would not be able to apply knowledge rightly or correctly. Consequently, when one does not apply the spiritual truths of godly wisdom the result is wickedness, which links to the application of human ideas of right or wrong highlighting the absence of godliness. This paper explores the bible’s discouragement of placing one’s trust in human judgment of what is right and what is wrong and encourages total reliance on God and spiritual growth, for knowledge, wisdom, and diligence.

Laziness and Diligence

The natural tendency of the human flesh gravitates towards laziness, especially in the current times where people have more time and opportunities for leisure compared to past generations. This reality is evidenced by the rise in the number of people suffering from obesity and other lifestyle diseases. The West is also experiencing spiritual apathy, which relates to the issues of laziness and diligence as advanced by the principles Hebrew wisdom. For instance, in the book of Proverbs instructs against laziness, inactivity, and sleep, warning that these things only bring poverty and scarcity. The bible further likens scarcity to an armed man and poverty to a thief who sneaks in and lays ambush on sluggards who sleep and rest more than they should. Solomon the author of the book of Proverbs in chapter 6 verse 6-11 calls attention to the life of ants and recommends that by observing and considering the ways of the ants, one would get wise. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011). The bible hails the ants’ way of life by highlighting the fact that they are able to look for food in the summer and stores it for future use, all this without a ruler, an overseer nor a commander. The bible encourages people to be as hardworking and diligent as the ants because that will ensure they have enough provisions in the present and in the future when conditions have changed.

Having asked God for wisdom and receiving it, Solomon has a lot to teach on the matter of diligence and laziness as he points out in Proverbs 13:4 that “A sluggards appetite is never filled but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011). In Proverbs chapter 13 verse 8, Solomon further points out that there is virtue in riches earned diligently since “A person’s riches may ransom their life, but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes,”(Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011) recommending that gathering money little by little, one can make it grow. As regards acquiring wisdom, Solomon informs in Proverbs 13:10 that “…wisdom is found in those who take advice,” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011). This assertion relates to Proverbs 13:1 that describes a wise son as one who “heeds his father’s instruction,” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011).

Folly being the absence of God-given wisdom, deprives an individual of the ability to apply knowledge in the correct and right ways, leading to wickedness, evil and death. With the right advice, spiritual growth, experience and knowledge one embraces wisdom, abandons folly and laziness, and pursues diligence, which is richly rewarded. The rewards include not only wealth but also strength to face obstacles and righteousness  to overcome wickedness and evil in the world, since according to Proverbs 13:4 the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. On the other hand, laziness and folly have serious and terrible consequences that relate to poverty, starvation, shame, and a lack of sense. This is well illustrated by Solomon in Proverbs 3:35 “The wise inherit honor, by fools get only shame,” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011).


The book of Proverbs advices that to avoid looking like a fool, acting like a fool or being a fool, one must indeed endeavor to get wisdom. Solomon, compares the teachings of a wise person to a fountain of life that saves people from death insisting that good judgment wins favor and that unlike fools who expose their folly, prudent people act with knowledge. He instructs that wisdom is gained by heeding advice, learning from wise people and walking with the wise since as he puts it in Proverbs 13:20  “ a companion of fools suffers harm,” (Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011).

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