Everybody would love to hit on a “get-rich-quick scheme” to avoid the rigors and slowness of a tried-and-true way. Those in “get-rich-quick mode” love to find ways to cut corners, quickly getting the job completed and the payment in hand.
The proverb colorfully likens such a person's way to a hedge of thorns. A hedge of thorns, while not life-threatening, is at least irritatingly painful from the hundreds of small wounds that could have been avoided by laboring with wisdom rather than trying to make a quick buck at another's expense. The ignored wisdom leads to the sluggard being constantly hindered by obstacles he has himself created. The Revised Standard Version's translation supplies a clear contrast: “The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.”
An element in the proverb that we may easily overlook is that laziness is contrasted with uprightness, a reminder that an element of immorality tinges the sluggard's sloth. The immorality often manifests in a form of dishonesty, as the sluggard attempts to hide the realty of his indolence in “reasons” as to why he accomplished so little or failed to carry his portion of the load.
Again, the instruction aligns with Proverbs 14:12 in that the lazy person's attempts to avoid work produces penalties. The straight course, the tried-and-true one, is ultimately the easiest to walk and produces the most. That is God's way.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Eight)