What does Proverbs 6:11 mean?
ESV: and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
NIV: and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
NASB: Then your poverty will come in like a drifter, And your need like an armed man.
CSB: and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.
NLT: then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
KJV: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
NKJV: So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
Verse Commentary:
In this verse Solomon predicts that poverty will overtake a lazy person as quickly as a robber or armed man assaults his victim. The point here is about failing to prepare: those who seek to get by with the bare minimum of effort leave themselves no room for when times are hard. A hardworking person can do their best to be ready for a crisis, but a lazy person can't go back in time to make up for lost opportunity (Proverbs 6:8). For the lazy, unprepared person, poverty and crisis can overtake them the same way an armed man robs an unsuspecting victim.

It's important to note that Scripture does not condemn those who would work, if they could, but are legitimately prevented. Nor does the Bible say it's a sin to be poor—there are many people who work hard yet still struggle to make ends meet. However, it is a sin to be lazy and refuse to work without a legitimate reason. The Bible champions the cause of those who are poor through no fault of their own. Psalm 41:1 calls "blessed" the person who considers the poor. Proverbs 28:27 promises, "Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse." James 2 sanctions the act of giving to the poor as illustrating genuine faith.

When famine and persecution caused many believers in Judea to become poor, the apostle Paul organized a relief fund for them, urging the churches along the route of his missionary travel to donate generously. However, if a person is poor because he is too lazy to work, he does not deserve charity (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 6:6–11 turns Solomon's attention to the subject of laziness. The term translated here as "sluggard" or "slacker" implies something more than being unmotivated; it also includes irresponsibility and laziness. Such persons put themselves at risk of ruin. Even if they can get by, in the present, a lack of preparation means they will not survive a crisis. In contrast, Solomon suggests the example of the ant: a creature who works diligently and is therefore able to endure harder times.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter provides teaching on two aspects of wealth management. The first is avoiding putting one's property in debt for the sake of some other person's risky investment. The other warns against laziness, indicating that it puts a person at risk for sudden ruin. Solomon then poetically explains attitudes and actions which God finds especially repulsive. Next, Solomon returns to the subject of adultery. He reiterates the inherent risks of sexual immorality, including the catastrophic consequences which it brings. That lesson continues into the following chapter.
Chapter Context:
This chapter of Proverbs continues the wise sayings Solomon addresses to his son. In chapter 5 he addresses adultery and marriage. In this chapter he addresses financial matters, work ethics, characteristics and conduct the Lord despises, and sexual immorality. A common theme of these lessons is to avoid the natural consequences of foolish choices. The next chapter describes the adulteress's ways and the pitfalls involved in committing adultery with her.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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