At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again” (KJV).Proverbs 19:24
“A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again” (ESV).
The book of Proverbs famously takes a dim view of laziness. Just as good luck often attends the person who hustles while he waits, so in a similar fashion bad luck follows a lazy person around. The ball often bounces in exactly the wrong direction. But these are the external misfortunes that afflict the lazy person.
This proverb is addressing something distinctly different. This is where the lazy person has the thing he needs right there with him, but his laziness trips him up. He wants to eat, and the food is right there in the bowl in front of him, but he is too overcome with weariness to lift it to his mouth. We have a similar proverb in English, where it is said of a lazy fellow that it could be raining porridge and he would have forgotten his bowl. Even when a little effort would yield disproportionate results, the lazy man is unwilling to rise to that minimal effort. It hurts his feelings to think about it.
The proverb is obviously using overstatement, as with the other English proverb that someone was lazier than Ludlum’s dog, who would lean his head against the wall to bark. We have probably never met someone who is so lazy that he literally found his fork intolerably heavy. But there are people who come close.
Why do people like this exist? The proverb is likely not directed at the lazy people themselves, who would be too lazy to read the book of Proverbs. The proverb is best aimed at those industrious people who feel sorry for lazy people, and who subsidize and enable the problem.