Proverbs 20:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:4, NIV: Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

Proverbs 20:4, ESV: The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

Proverbs 20:4, KJV: The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

Proverbs 20:4, NASB: The lazy one does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.

Proverbs 20:4, NLT: Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.

Proverbs 20:4, CSB: The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing.

What does Proverbs 20:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This lazy person is not physically unable to do what needs to be done. He simply lacks the desire to work. Once again Solomon decries laziness. This follows many similar warnings and commands in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 6:9; 12:24; 18:9). Laziness is a mark of shame (Proverbs 19:24) and puts a person at greater risk of poverty (Proverbs 14:23; 20:13). A mark of laziness is failing to work at the proper time—to prepare now for future needs. This relates to the idea of planting so that one can harvest crops later. Those who don't plow won't bring in food. The lazy person who doesn't work now will find themselves in need before long.

The time for plowing and planting in the Middle East is the rainy season. This might mean working in muddy fields. Doing so demands too much work for a lazy person. But if the lazy person fails to work in less-than-ideal conditions, he will go hungry during harvest time. A lazy person today may refuse to work and prefer to look for handouts, but he does not have biblical support for doing so. Paul and his coworkers did not demand that the Thessalonian church support them. Instead, they worked day and night so they would not be a burden to the Thessalonian believers (2 Thessalonians 3:8–9). He told the Thessalonian church that if a person is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10–11).