This verse is the fourth of four wise saying in a short section about “a sluggard.” The term is an old English word for a lazy person — we sometimes just use the shortened form today and call someone “a slug.”
“A sluggard is wiser in his (or her!) own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.” This lazy guy or gal — who never gets around to doing anything — is so sure they know more than everyone else!
In fact, they’re certain they know better “than seven people who answer discreetly.” These seven — the Biblical number symbolic of completion, even perfection — would be folks who both think well and can verbalize with their understanding effectively.
The Hebrew term “discreetly” comes from the root word “taste.” They know some things and have the good sense to communicate it in a way that will be “palatable” or “tasty” — that is well received by others.
So, this proverb says there are people who never get around to doing anything but are certain they still know more than all the mature, wise people they know!
This wise saying offers a couple insights to me.
First, it motives me to take an honest inventory of my own thinking, words and actions. I don’t want to be like this “sluggard.”
Second, it should help me better understand with whom I am dealing. Once I can recognize the “sluggards” in my world, I’ll be better prepared to deal with them — or not — appropriately!