"The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage,
but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty."
There are six key words in this passage: plans; diligent; advantage; everyone; hasty; poverty
This is the Hebrew word machashebeth which is the idea of thinking and creating of new ideas. In this case it is translated as planning or the creating of a pathway for life that has not been accomplished yet.
Now what is interesting is that this creative thinking about the future is being done by a particular kind of person: the diligent. Creative planning done by others will not be as productive. Creative planning done by the fool is problematic. Creative planning done by the proud will lead to a fall. Creative planning done by a scorner will tear down another.
Let's reflect on this for a moment. The new ideas that you come up with will be the major source of advantage you have. So write them down and begin working towards initiating action to make them happen. Nothing will happen if you do nothing about them. If you have an idea for a new book, start writing. If you have an idea about a new product, start making it. If you have an idea for a new way to do something at work, then write it out and turn it in. It is only the flow of new ideas that you pay attention to that will bring you advantage. The new ideas that you ignore are gone.
The word diligent is the Hebrew word charuts. The basic root idea is to cut, to sharpen, or to decide. The translators felt the word diligent carried the meaning best in this context. It, however, might be even closer to translate the word decisive. The idea is that execution of all these new ideas will take place. These are not new ideas in the mind of a sloth. These are not new ideas in the mind of an evil person. This is a person who decisively will set about evaluating and accomplishing the new ideas that they have. It is the action and the decisiveness that causes the new ideas in this person's mind to come to an advantage.
Now the proverb is not suggesting that some people have the decisiveness gene or temperament and others do not. In fact, the idea is that everyone should develop this diligent decisiveness. It is not beyond your grasp. Start making some decisions and put them into practice – little ones at first until you get the hang of it. We read constantly about someone who was morbidly obese who began to make small decisive actions steps and now is a completely different person. We read about those who are sick of their poverty and welfare status and condition and begin making small but significant action steps and change their situation.
This is the Hebrew word for more than – motar. Interestingly enough, the proverb doesn't suggest that the advantage or more than that is gained is exactly what the diligent person was planning. It is, instead, clear that the person who is decisively diligent about executing their new ideas comes up eventually with situations and ideas that are to their advantage and to a more-than solution. There are more than opportunities out there for everyone, but they must be pursued with diligence and decisiveness. Stop being lazy – launch out into a new opportunity and be alert for the more than directions that will come up when you are on the path.
The word everyone is interesting in this context because one would almost expect a particular type of foolish person to be named here. But, instead, Solomon writes that anyone and everyone who becomes hasty will end up in poverty. In this sense the proverb takes an unexpected turn. He has just told us about a particular person's ability to find the advantageous situation. Then he talks about everyone’s opportunity to find the disadvantageous situation. Clearly he is screaming at us under the inspiration of God: BE DILIGENT – DON’T BE HASTY.
This is the Hebrew word 'uts which means hurry, haste, urge, to be pressed, to be narrow. The idea is that a person is allowing something to press in upon them and push them forward in a quicker than normal manner. It may be an internal urge or an external urge. It may be some other person or a perceived calendar issue. But the overall issue is that a person is being moved forward at the above-normal rate. It is this quicker rate that causes the problems and develops the bad decisions and actions that lead to poverty.
Let's reflect on this for a moment. When you are being pressed to drive fast, ask why and slow down and be late. When a sales person is pressing for a decision, walk away; good purchases aren't rushed. When some internal want is driving you to spend money you don't have, stop and spend a day thinking and praying. God is saying to us: nothing good comes from hurried decisions, hurried actions, and hurried words. Think through what you are deciding, think through what you are doing, think through what you are going to say. As a balance to careful deliberation, remember it is the new ideas of the decisively diligent that will lead to advantage. Somewhere between hurry and laziness is executing new ideas diligently. Find that place and it will surely lead to advantage.
The Hebrew word machor means lacking or in need of. It is, in this context, translated poverty. But look at what is really being said. If you are hasty, then you will create a situation in which you will begin lacking something or become in need of something. In other words, in your hurry to accomplish one thing, you miss another thing you were supposed to see or you create a deficit in another area. It is the hurry – the press of some urge – that creates a lacking in some area. The hurry makes you out of balance, creating a deficit that will leave you exposed and depleted. That saying “The faster I go, the more behind I get,” is appropriate.