"The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor"
You either make yourself work hard or someone else will make you work hard. It is your choice, but you will work hard. It is always more pleasant to be your own goad than to have someone else who does not have your best interests at heart do it.
This is the Hebrew word harus, which means sharp, diligent, diligence, decisive. There is an idea in this word of acting quickly and decisively. While the translation of the word diligence is not wrong, it does not usually bring to mind a crucial part of this word in the Hebrew which is decisiveness.
One of the things that Solomon is pointing out is that a person who wants to be in charge must not be lazy or slow or procrastinate, but they must be decisive. A person who wants to be in charge must not be afraid to make a decision. If you constantly want to wait until the right decision is obvious to everyone, then you will not be put in charge.
This is one of the problems with the bureaucratic mentality: launch another study instead of making a decision and moving forward. Now wisdom collects as much knowledge as it can and always wants more, but there will be a time when a decision is called for along with the hard work and you must be prepared to make it.
Because the translators chose to use the English word diligentinstead of decisive,one of the crucial insights from this 3,000-year old proverb is missed. It is not how hard you work that will lead to authority but your ability to make critical decisions that will eventually put you in a leadership position.
Do you know how to make the tough decisions? What informs those decisions? Do you have biblical, personal, and professional counselors who can walk you through these kinds of decisions?
This is the Hebrew word masal, which means rule, have dominion, reign. It clearly means to be a leader, to be in charge here. If you want to ever be in charge, you must develop the ability to be decisive.
This is the Hebrew word remiya, which means slackening or deceit. This is the word often associated with sloth, slow, loose, less than the best. It is interesting that it is clearly about putting in a two-thirds effort.
But there is also, in this word that Solomon chooses here, the idea of betrayal and deceit which is an interesting play-off of decisiveness. If your decisiveness is selfish and it deceives others or betrays others, then you will be put to forced labor. We are seeing this kind of selfish grasping in the ranks of major business leaders who deceived stockholders, the government, and even its own board to amass great wealth for themselves. They are ending up in prison doing forced labor.
This is the Hebrew word mas, which means taskmasters, forced labor, slave labor. The idea is that you are not in charge and others are making you do things that are not easy or enjoyable.
Laziness and deceit will produce this type of result. It may look like you have a situation where you don't have to work hard or where you can deceive people for your own gain, but it will catch up with you. You will not gain leadership by laziness and deceit.