The Slothful Sluggard

The Slothful Sluggard | Jack McNiel, Evangelist, Oak Grove Church of Christ

The Biblical word I would like to discuss this week is Sluggard. The Hebrew word that is translated is found twelve times in the Book of Proverbs. Five times it is translated sluggard and the other seven times it is translated as slothful.

The English words sluggard and slothful both indicate slowness of movement.

Slothful is defined as, habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness, (

Sluggard describes a person, who is habitually inactive or lazy. (

A sluggard can simply be called a slothful person. Proverbs uses these terms numerous times to encourage the reader to become active and even proactive in every aspect of their lives and especially to be so in regard to their spiritual lives.

A summary of how the Hebrew word is used in Proverbs demonstrates the characteristics of the slothful sluggard.

  • The slothful sluggard refuses to labor. (Proverbs 21:25 and 24:30-31).
  • The slothful sluggard makes excuses for not doing anything: “There’s a lion!” (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13) “It’s too cold!” (Proverbs 20:4)
  • These lame excuses and flat refusal to do anything only makes the slothful sluggard’s life more difficult. His way is fraught with thorns that impede him. (Proverbs 15:19)
  • The slothful sluggard is like a man who is sleeps all the time, but gets no rest. (Proverbs 6:9; 26:14)
  • Finally, the slothful sluggard is unreliable and brings only bitterness to those who would attempt to rely upon him. (Proverbs 10:26)

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10

All of this is why Solomon encourages the slothful sluggard to look to or imitate the ant, Proverbs 6:6-11. The any may be small, but it works hard and is proactive with regard to seeing to its needs. A slothful sluggard, both spiritually and physically is the very opposite of what a Christian ought to be.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24


Jack McNiel, Evangelist