Proverbs 12:11
He who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks judgment.
Manly Industry and Parasitical IndolenceHomilistProverbs 12:11
The Fate of DronesScientific IllustrationsProverbs 12:11
The Law of LabourFrancis Jacox, B.A.Proverbs 12:11
There is Great Moral Value in Being Well EmployedWashington Gladden.Proverbs 12:11
The Downward and the Upward PathsW. Clarkson Proverbs 12:1, 15
Strength and FruitfulnessW. Clarkson Proverbs 12:3, 12
Blessings and Miseries of Domestic LifeE. Johnson Proverbs 12:4-11
It is worth remarking that we might obtain a very wholesome truth from the text, if we take the exact reverse of the proverb as worded in our version; for then we reach the wise conclusion -

I. THAT SELF-RESPECT, HOWEVER INDIGENT, is better than "being ministered unto" at the cost of reputation. It is better to lack bread, or even life itself, really honoring ourself, than it is to receive any amount of service from others, if we have forfeited the regard of the good, and are deservedly "despised." But taking the words as they are, and reaching the sense intended by the writer, we gather -

II. THAT DOMESTIC COMFORT AND SUFFICIENCY ARE MUCH TO BE PREFERRED TO THE GRATIFICATION OF PERSONAL VANITY. One man, in order that he may have consideration and deference from his neighbours, expends his resources on those outward appearances which will command that gratification; to do this he has to deny himself the attendance which he would like to have, and even the nourishment he needs. Another man disregards altogether the slights he may suffer from his meddlesome and intrusive neighbours, in order to supply his home with the food and the comforts which will benefit his family. It is the latter who is the wise man. For:

1. The gratification of vanity is a very paltry satisfaction; there is nothing honourable, but rather ignoble about it; it lowers rather than raises a man in the sight of wisdom.

2. The gratification thus gained is likely to prove very ephemeral, and to diminish constantly in its value; moreover, it is personal and, in that sense, selfish.

3. Domestic comfort is a daily advantage, lasting the whole year round, the whole life long.

4. Domestic comfort not only benefits the head of the household, but all the members of it, and he who makes a happy home is contributing to the good of his country and his kind. Using now the words of the text as suggestive of truths which they do not actually hold, we learn -

III. THAT THERE IS A VALUABLE SERVICE WHICH ALL MAY SECURE. "He that hath a servant." Men are divisible into those that are servants and those that have them. Some are the slaves of their evil habits; these are to be profoundly pitied, however many menservants or maidservants they may have at their call. But we may and should belong to those who hold their habits, whether of the mind or of the life, under their control and at their command. If that be so with us, then, though we should have no dependents at all in our employ, or though we ourselves should be dependents, living in honourable and useful service, we shall have the most valuable servants always at hand to minister to us, building up our character, strengthening our mind, enlarging our life.

IV. THAT WE SHOULD SECURE NOURISHMENT AT ALL COSTS WHATEVER. We must never he "the man that lacketh bread." To attain to any honour, to receive any adulation, to indulge any tancy, and to "lack bread," is a great mistake. For nourishment is strength and fulness of life; it is so in

(1) the physical,

(2) the intellectual,

(3) the moral and spiritual realm.

With the regularity and earnestness with which we ask for "daily bread," we should labour and strive to secure it, for our whole nature. - C.

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.
It is no mercy to be freed from the law of labour. Nor is it God that frees a man from that law. Among the opulent there are some who break the law of labour, and some who keep it. They keep it by working in their own province, in that state of life into which it has pleased God to call them. There is brain-toil as well as hand-toil; the wear and tear of the mental energies tend more to shorten life than the ordinary labourer's wear and tear of body. Some kind of labour is enjoined upon all, by a law of God's own framing. There is division of labour, but it is a labour nevertheless. Woe to him who craves an idle life, who would slumber existence away in listless reverie! The truth of the text is forcible, whether taken literally or applied spiritually. A contrast is drawn between the industrious and the loiterer. Solomon uses the words "wise" and "foolish," and their kindred terms, in a deep spiritual sense — moral as well as mental, religious as well as intellectual. The fool is he who acts without reference to the Divine above him, and the everlasting before him. As we dare not let things take their course in our worldly business, so neither in our spiritual. Christianity is meant to hallow life in all its phases — to hallow business, labour, recreation. The Sabbath of the Christian is a life-long Sabbath, an every-day Sabbath. Bishop Taylor reminds us that the "life of every man may be so ordered that it may be a perpetual serving of God — the greatest trouble, and most busy trade, and worldly encumbrances, when they are necessary, or charitable, or profitable, being a-doing God's work. For God provides the good things of the world to serve the needs of nature, by the labours of the ploughman, the skill and pains of the artisan, and the dangers and traffic of the merchant. Idleness is called the sin of Sodom and her daughters, and indeed is the burial of a living man." The text suggests two pictures. In the one we have the persevering husbandman, who loses no time, who works with a good heart, and at last enjoys a noble harvest. In the other we have a slothful spendthrift, who whiles away life's sunshine by basking in it, leaving the evening to care for itself, and heedless of coming night. But it is important to remember that no earthly seed-corn will produce fruit for another world — therefore the seed-corn must be supplied from the heavenly storehouse by the heavenly husbandman — it must be indigenous to the skies, an exotic upon earth. If thou be in earnest for God, He will multiply thy seed sown, and increase the fruits of thy righteousness.

(Francis Jacox, B.A.)


1. He has manly industry indicated. Agriculture is the oldest, divinest, healthiest, and most necessary branch of human industry.

2. He has manly industry rewarded. Skilled industry is seldom in want.


1. There are those who hang on others for their support.

2. Such persons are fools. They sacrifice self-respect. They expose themselves to degrading annoyances.


The idle classes are waiting to become the vicious classes. This is vividly illustrated by the well-known story of a friendless girl who, about three generations ago, was thrown upon the world, uncared for. Her children and children's children came to number over a hundred, desperate and dangerous men and women of crime. No record of earth can tell how many a bright young man or woman thrown out of employ has become a centre of equally dark and ever-widening circles.

(Washington Gladden.)

Scientific Illustrations.
It will be profitable to idle people to observe the arrangement whereby nature condemns the drones to death in the bee community. No sooner is the business of swarming ended, and the worker-bees satisfied there will be no lack of fertile queens, when issues the terrible edict for the massacre of the drones. Poor fellows! It is to be hoped they comfort themselves with the reflection that their fate is an everlasting homily, presented by nature in dogmatical but most effective fashion, of the uselessness of all who labour not for their living. If one must die for the good of one's kind, by all means let it be as a martyr. Poor fellows! how they dart in and out, and up and down the hive, in the vain hope of escape! The workers are inexorable.

(Scientific Illustrations.)

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