Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. - Proverbs 24:32-34
There is a famous engraving by J.W. Steel of a young boy sitting with his chin cupped in his hands, staring at a boiling kettle on the open fire. The boy is James Watt, and he is sitting in his parents’ home in Greenock, Scotland, early in the eighteenth century, watching with fascination as the steam from the boiling water lifts the lid of the kettle with a rattling sound. His mother is chatting with a friend, unaware of what her son is seeing. But the boy is keenly observing what is going on—and he’s thinking about it! He is looking and learning, observing and contemplating. He is recognizing the power of steam to generate energy and the possibilities of harnessing this energy and channeling it into useful activity.
A hundred miles south of Greenock and twenty-four years after James Watt’s birth in 1736, William Wordsworth was born in the English Lake District. Left to his own devices as a boy in his rustic home, Wordsworth wandered over the hills and beside the lakes, looking and learning. In his mature years he wrote,
The writer of Proverbs wrote about passing an overgrown vineyard. What had once been well cared for and productive now lay wasted and barren. He thought about what he saw, and he learned a lesson from it: “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber” (Prov. 24:33-34).
Watt observed, and his practical mind translated the data into scientific principles. Wordsworth looked, and he drew from what he saw lessons about the inner workings of the human heart. The writer of Proverbs observed an abandoned field, saw the folly of another man’s actions, and learned from the other’s mistakes.
For Further Study: Proverbs 24:23-34