Every parent wants his children to be productive members of society. We are proud of our children and often love to share with others their careers and successes. It’s always been recognized as a major parental responsibility to 30 ant & sluggardinstill in our children the ability and self-discipline to provide for themselves rather than becoming a drain on the resources of society. Proverbs, addressing “my son” as Solomon usually does, assists parents in this responsibility. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard” is sometimes used as a condemnation of laziness. The expression comes from Proverbs 6:6–9 (KJV): “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” Some translations say “God to the ant, you lazybones” (See NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV). The New Century Versions says, “Go watch the ants, you lazy person.” The New Living Translation says “Take a lesson from the ants…” The Contemporary English version says, “You lazy people can learn by watching an anthill.” The entirety of the reference as translated by the English Standard Version says this, “ Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

Proverbs 30:25 adds to the wisdom that can be gleaned from watching the ant. It says, “The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer.” The reference to ants being “a people” addresses the fact that they live in community. They have authorities that they obey and social expectations that they meet. Every ant contributes to the good of the whole community, sometimes self sacrificially. It’s not uncommon to find the positive character traits contrasted with the negative ones in the book of Proverbs. The lifestyle of the ant is contrasted with the lifestyle of the biblical “sluggard” or “lazy person.”

Lennox, explains the principles that can be learned from watching the ant. He says, “The ant needs no one to tell it what to do, while the sluggard refuses the direction offered. The ant knows when it is time to work, while the sluggard seems conscious only of sleep, slumber, and rest. The ant is aware of what is coming and prepares for it, while the sluggard seems oblivious to everything, including imminent disaster.” It’s the tenacity of the ant that contrasts with the wimpishness of the sluggard. Lennox continues, “The ant makes a wonderful picture of efficiency, while the sluggard is worthy of ridicule as he lies in bed begging for a little more time to rest. Unlike the ant which can count on food in lean times, the sluggard can only look forward to a surprise visit from poverty…”