Here we have one incredibly lazy man. In fact this man's laziness is so bad it is almost comical to picture it. Here is a man who has buried his hand in the dish of food that is set before him. The picture is not of someone who is picking at the top of the food on his plate. This guy has buried his hand into the dish of food, probably covering his entire hand with it. It is as if his appetite has led him to grab all that he can. So we do see initially a selfish attitude - and one who has a huge appetite for what is set before him. But there is a disconnect with this man - because although he can bury his hand in it - there will be little or no real satisfaction from it.
The sluggard has a great appetite - and great desire for things - but he has no ability to bring those desires to pass. He buries his hand in the dish - but he won't work hard enough to even bring it up to his mouth. Again this picture is comical to us. Here is a man with his hand buried deep in the dish. He has grabbed all the food he can handle. The problem is that he is so lazy he won't lift his hand up to his mouth to eat it. This seems so comical that it is a farce to us. Who is so lazy that he won't even lift his food to his mouth to eat. Honestly - there is really no one who would do this at the supper table - but the farcial picture painted for us speaks beyond the supper table. It speaks to spiritual realities - and to the problem that exists with the sluggard.
The sluggard is lazy - that is his problem. The picture before us is one of a man who has great desire - but no discipline to bring it to pass. He has a voracious appetite - but he won't work to see it move from desire to decision to completion. The burying of his hand in the dish speaks of the lazy man's desires. He speaks of wanting things - and speaks of desiring to accomplish great things. He lacks no vision for what he wants - because for many a lazy man - they want the whole world. They do this because they have all the time in the world to develop such fanciful dreams of what could be. The problem is though they can bury their hand in the dish of desire and dreams - they never work to bring their hand up to their mouth and actually fulfill those desires. Here is the crux of this proverb. The lazy man won't work to fulfill his dreams and his desires. He won't apply himself to the tasks that have to be done to accomplish what he wants. Oh the dreams will be huge - but the actual accomplishment of them will be miniscule. His planning box will be full, but the completion box will be empty. We see this every day - in a myriad of men who just won't work - who won't be disciplined to do what is necessary to succeed in their plans.
Those who have just read this might be thinking, "Well why didn't God just say that the lazy man has plans, but he won't work to see them happen?" Because that would not catch our attention. If someone says that - people will ignore him - especially those who are lazy and undisciplined. The sluggard won't even pay attention to that statement. The genius therefore of the Scriptures is that they paint us a picture that catches our attention. To see a sluggard dreaming the hours away without working is . . . well, it's kind of boring. But to see a hungry man with his hand buried in a dish of food. To see that man leave it there, unwilling to even bring it up to his mouth so he can eat . . . well, that's wierd! That catches our attention - and makes us think. The sheer ridiculousness of it catches our eye - and makes us look longer - look deeper. It is in that moment that we work to unlock a proverb that will speak volumes to us. In that moment we will see deeply and learn like we have never learned before. We might even learn that our laziness and sluggardly behavior looks almost as ridiculous as that guy sitting there with his hand buried in a plate of food.