Hebrew teachings on wisdom, diligence and folly are contained in the Old Testament part of the Bible, especially in the book of Proverbs. Though the book of Proverbs comprises several other teachings concerning marriage, relationships, diligence, self-control, and family, the teachings regarding wisdom are the most prominent (Hindson and Yates 265). Also presented alongside wisdom is the concept of folly. The biblical view of wisdom transcends knowledge as we know it.
Wisdom in this sense surpasses a mere catalog of facts or information and combines a mastery of how to live and good decision-making with the fear of the Lord. Folly, on the other hand, is marked by foolish decisions and misadvised choices. From the book of Proverbs, wisdom, folly, diligence and laziness are clearly distinguished. This paper considers the link between wisdom and diligence as well as their relationship with folly and laziness.
Wisdom, Diligence and folly
The Bible teaches the importance of wisdom in attaining success as opposed to folly (Eccl. 10:10 New International Version). The book of Proverbs portrays wisdom and folly as two extreme opposites with wisdom generating benefits.
Folly, on the other hand, is shown as making an unwise decision despite having knowledge of the informed choice. When a farmer, for instance, is aware that the rains are close and that he should prepare his farm, but chooses to postpone the activity and rush when the rains begin, the farmer’s character is seen as folly.
The farmer, therefore, fails to prepare for the rains properly and registers poor produce. This kind of folly can be associated with laziness that influences the wrong choice which often seems to be the easy one. In his comparison between wisdom and folly, Solomon uplifts wisdom and portrays it as light. In contrast, folly is depicted as darkness.
The book of Proverbs recognizes the value of wisdom in analyzing life and work productivity. Wisdom is portrayed as the light that enables a man to make the right choices and enhance productivity (Hindson and Yates 269). Folly, on the other hand, leads to darkness and unproductivity characterized by bad choices. The foolish person does not notice the dangers that lurk close to his door and often tumbles into treacherous paths due to his utter lack of judgment.
Solomon constantly refers to the notion that wealth and fulfillment are intricately connected to hard work. In Proverbs 13:4 for instance, the Bible makes a clear connection between appetite and urge to labor. The Bible indicates that there is no satisfaction for the sluggard while the diligent gets to satisfy his desires. This verse seems to imply that a lazy person should not expect to obtain satisfaction for his desires since satisfaction comes from diligence.
Proverbs chapter twenty-four verse thirty also relates poverty to laziness, indicating that a vineyard that belongs to a lazy person produces only poverty. Diligence, which is developed from character, leads to success. This character is only obtained through the fear of God, which the Bible equates to wisdom. The Bible asserts “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6 New International Version).
The book of Proverbs contains several instances diligence and the laziness are contrasted in a way that reflects the distinctions between wisdom and folly. In Proverbs 6:6-8 the Bible compares a diligent worker to an ant which acts on its own accord and instructs the sluggard to emulate the ant by seeking wisdom. Though the ant lacks a ruler, it collects plenty of food during harvest times and stores it for dry seasons.
This indicates that diligence needs wisdom to be productive. The lazy person, on the other hand, stays in bed as his door turns on its hinges (Prov. 26:14 New International Version). This verse seems to indicate the extent to which a sluggard loves to sleep by indicating that a lazy person is devoted to his bed in the same way that the door is affixed to its hinges. Unlike the ant which chooses to labor and save for hard times, the lazy person prefers to slumber. His folly is in choosing sleep despite knowing the benefit of hard work.
An outstanding link between diligence, laziness and work is outlined towards the end of Proverbs. Proverbs 31:10-31 refer to a virtuous woman who finds satisfaction in the family and work as an entrepreneur. Just like the virtuous woman, the wise worker is trustworthy (Prov. 31:11 New International Version). A wise worker is surrounded by honesty, instruction and understanding (Prov. 23:23 New International Version). Honesty not only includes telling the truth, but also working truly and expecting to reap what you sow.
The Hebrew texts in the Old Testament are explicit concerning diligence and its relationship with wisdom and folly. Diligence requires wisdom to be productive while poverty is related to folly and laziness. The book of Proverbs contains several incidences where wisdom in work is encouraged. This wisdom can only be obtained through the fear of God, who gives man the wisdom to make good decisions.
Hindson, Edward and Gary Yates. The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey, Nashville, Tennessee: B&H, 2012. Print.
Hebrew Teachings on Diligence and Laziness: A Contrast with Wisdom and Folly