The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
– Proverbs 12:24
Proverbs consistently commends diligence, or hard work (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4; 12:27; 13:4; 19:15; 21:5). Diligence is a part of walking in wisdom. As Solomon put elsewhere, “time and chance” happens to all, so there is no absolute guarantee that diligence will lead to prosperity, but it is generally true (Ecclesiastes 9:11). To bear rule means to have dominion and it isn’t limited to positions of government. It refers here to the ascendance of the diligent to greater responsibility and authority. The word for tribute means a tax or forced labor situation. This contrast shows how the slothful descend in responsibility and authority. They are neither wise nor diligent like the ant, which needs no overseer (Proverbs 6:6-8).