30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest —
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Like so many of the things that we read in the Bible, this passage can have a literal meaning and also a figurative one. Let's look first at the literal one . . .
I expect that sometimes Solomon would tire of life at court, and might take off some of his kingly adornments and travel through the countryside, through his kingdom. I think that in summer heat like we are experiencing here in the US, he would lay aside some of those kingly robes and leave all of the dignified etiquette of the court, and "take a breather." On one of these short escapes from his duties, he looked across a broken down wall and saw a farm -- a field and a vineyard, that a slothful man had neglected. Thorns, nettles, and weeds were growing rife there, and some of the walls were broken down. Solomon looked, and learned.
We can, too!
To me, the lesson here is this: looking over the wall, our Father can look into our hearts. Does he see well-kept fields, and a vineyard full of fruit? Or does he see the wall in disrepair, and the fields and vineyard neglected?
Jesus addressed this, too. In Matthew 13 we find the parable of the seed and the sower. Many times when we hear a sermon or a homily about this, the focus is on the types of soil, and the results of the sown seed. I'd like to concentrate on verse 22, which pointed to the weeds that choked out the seed . . .
“…the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth.”
Some translations use the word "worry" here, and some use "cares" of the world. This would include anything that the world cares about: keeping up with the latest fashions, stressing about bills, being anxious about a career, focusing on time-wasters like negative thoughts and emotions.
There is nothing wrong with being conscious of fashion, having a career, or paying your bills on time --- we're talking about becoming obsessed, consumed with these things. That is, after all, what weeds do . . . they grow incredibly fast and are invasive. They consume every bit of space they can -- and in our faith lives, the application would be that there is less space for the godly and positive things.
God will let us know if we are putting the things of this world above Him. And, He will tell us if we are stressing about things that we are supposed to hand over to His care and allow Him to work out.
That other dangerous weed is the "deceitfulness of wealth." When we are rocking along making good money, and we seem to be living a life of plenty, there is a real danger of our starting to rely solely on ourselves, not on Him. We may lose sight of the fact that it is God who has blessed us and given us this financial bounty. It is He who gives us creative ideas and the understanding to utilize them; it is He who moves people and events in our lives. If we stop giving the credit to God, where it rightfully belongs, we may become proud, greedy, and tight-fisted with our financial blessings --- and those are all weeds that can choke out God's spirit in our lives.
We can, in fact, get so over-run with "weeds" that we stop the important work of building on the foundation that Christ laid for our lives. That's the "ruins" that Solomon saw . . . if we aren't doing this (II Peter 1) anymore:
" and add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, add knowledge, and to knowledge, add . . . "
just like laying attractively carved stones onto a firm foundation. If we are no longer "adding on" then it's not long before we are in "ruins."
What does our Father see, when He looks into your heart?