5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
What is art? This is a question that has been on the minds of men and women since the dawn of creation. From the first drawings on cave walls, and the metal crafts of Tubal-Cain (Genesis 4:22), to the delicate stone carvings of Greek and Roman sculptors, the earliest civilizations of mankind sought to create and beautify the world around them. Art movements have defined eras, such as the Renaissance, and modern artists work to express what is in their hearts through the latest mediums, even in this computer age.
Art is defined by independent animator Ruth Stella Lingford in this way:
Art has an element that is spiritual, emotional. It is something that happens when you look at Picasso’s “Guernica” and makes you think of the cruelty of humans to humans, or when you look at a Monet piece, and you feel the unity with nature.
Lingford is quoted in a recent article in the Harvard Gazette that questions the validity of the new technology of “AI art.” Recent developments in “artificial intelligence” have produced computer programs that can “create” images that range from realistic photography and graphic design, to abstract and sci-fi images.
With little or no human input, online AI-image generators, such as DALL-E2, Discord, Midjourney, and others absorb the data of real images, keywords, human behavior and the natural world to produce “art,” that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. What’s more, AI can produce “music,” “literature” and even mimic human conversation. AI can even produce term papers and speeches––including “sermons” that could theoretically be preached.
As if plagiarism or cheating on an exams were not common enough human errors, AI seems to make our sinful natures far easier to entertain.
And this is what AI cannot seem to grasp, along with other details, such as human beings. On most AI-generated portraits of people, something is always a little off. Details such as six-fingered hands, vague facial expressions, and seemingly no “spark” in the eyes can create uncanny-looking people. Indeed, the industry is working feverishly to improve this aspect of AI: for the insidious creation of recognizable (and profitable) pornography.
Instead of truly reflecting beauty, AI (like most creations of man) can be bent by sin. For example, Tubal-Cain, as mentioned above, was “an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron,” according to Genesis 4:22. He might be considered the first blacksmith, who made tools and other useful things.
However, it is implied that as bronze and iron are valuable in making weapons, perhaps Tubal-Cain is the first armorer in history––and carries on his forebear’s bloody nature.
Back at the Harvard Gazette, Ms Lingford continues her thoughts on the validity of AI-generated art:
In terms of art created by AI, I don’t think we can call it art. I don’t see AI yet doing the kind of creative things we do. I can see that it composes a piece of music, but I don’t think it could create Beethoven’s last sonatas on its own. AI can imitate something that’s already been created and regurgitate it in another format, but that is not an original work.–Ruth Stella Lingford
Solomon understands what Ms Lingford is saying, as well as its potential to go awry in the hearts of men. In Proverbs 21 he is teaching the young people of Israel about avoiding certain fools in order to prosper in life. One such fool is the man who seeks to become wealthy without proper planning. In the end, he meets with ruin:
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.–Proverbs 21:5
On one hand, this proverb easily serves as a warning against “get rich quick” schemes, gambling, and even thievery. The call for wisdom means that the diligent person will creatively plan within the boundaries of godly wisdom. Instead of cutting corners, or seeking to produce the most for the cheapest cost––at the expense of the suffering of others.
Since AI can only “create” facsimiles of art it has had limited appeal, but lately has begun to make an impact on real people. There can be no real substitute for human-created art. You can produce a likeness of Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel, but it is not the Sistine Chapel ceiling. You can produce a computer rendering of a family photo, but it will not be a photo of your family. This, does not stop the corporate world, however, who has begun to detect a profit in AI-generated images.
Some photographers, graphic artists, and others have begun to feel the pinch financially in their work contracts. Companies and publishers are beginning to like the convenience, control and lower cost of AI-generated art and images, allowing them to free their budgets of the human encumbrance of contract or staff artists.
It is possible, therefore, for forms of art––as well as gifted artists––to be lost to the time-trimming, cost-savings and corner-cutting that AI offers. Throughout Proverbs, this type of “haste” is an enemy to be dealt with, as Tim Keller explains in his comments on Proverbs 24:27:
27 Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.––Proverbs 24:27
Here, Solomon is using an agricultural analogy to teach you the wisdom found in patience and proper planning. As Tim Keller says, “it is wise to evaluate income potential before you know how large a house to build.”
Get the facts, know the parameters, discover the potential costs and profits, use your head, not simply your feelings. Keller recalls a thought along these lines by C.S. Lewis in the “Abolition of Man:”
There is something which unites magic and applied science (technology) while separating them from the "wisdom" of earlier ages. For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.–C.S. Lewis, “Abolition of Man”
Using AI technology to “conform reality to the wishes of man” can be harmless if properly used, but as Lewis and Keller imply, it may easily feed into this desire for haste. And in hastiness is contained the seeds of one’s destruction.
What to do? Solomon shows you that the way of wisdom is found in diligent planning. Making plans and being a person who is a “planner” can be beneficial on many levels, but it is also a reflection on how you are made in the image of God. Your Heavenly Father is the master planner who reveals His will throughout scripture:
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.–Jeremiah 29:11
God’s plan for salvation and the redemption of His creation from sin and death as come to fruition in the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out,“Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.–Galatians 4:4–7
Like His Father, Jesus knows His plan and humbly focuses on it throughout His life on earth, despite the continual interactions with impatient, or hasty people. Jesus seems to reluctantly turn water into wine at His mother’s request during the wedding at Cana (John 2:11), but later refuses the taunts of His brothers to reveal Himself early and inappropriately:
8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.–John 7:8-9
What plans have you made for your life? If you are young, you may be working hard to make it happen. Raising a family, holding a career, and living life can be filled with ups and downs, but always it seems that the future lies ahead. Perhaps you are retired or older, and you look back on a life of plans made and either broken or fulfilled. Are your plans God’s plans? Do you lay your schedule, your ambitions, and your dreams at His feet, or is seeking His will a byproduct or afterthought?
Like Jesus’s continual reminder of the Kingdom of God that was both realized in Him now, and in the future when He returns, you and I must consider these things in our own plans. Jesus includes you in His plans, and so it would be foolish not to include Him in yours. As Paul encourages you to do “in patient continuance:”
7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality–Romans 2:7
Just as Christ is patient in his ministry, even through suffering, you too must patiently seek to imitate Him, and other strong believers, in faith:
12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.–Hebrews 6:12
The old saying “haste makes waste” could be a paraphrase of this proverb, for ultimately haste can lead to your undoing. You may have had some success in being impulsive. Audacity can sometimes lead to victory, as French lawyer and voice in the French Revolution Georges Jacques Danton proclaimed: “Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l’audace!" (We must dare, and dare again, and go on daring!)
But it ultimately leads to death. In the end, Danton was betrayed and executed by the mob he helped create. Have you, or someone you know ever suffered from an impulsive act or lack of planning? Do you sense our modern culture, with its love of easy things and leisure, may too quickly be abandoning forethought and diligence for its impulses?
Surrendering to AI and other technologies may be a part of this. Sacrificing art, beauty, and true creative effort in order to be able to have more profit and more time for leisure and easy things, is a path of destruction.
Never forget that God is the God of the long game, of deep and well-considered plans. The efforts you make to seek to serve Him, to do His will, to be Christ to others and to glorify His Son take courage, strength, and patience. Have no fear, as the Spirit of God reminds Israel:
15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.–II Chronicles 20:15
What a great comfort it is to know that the battle belongs to the Lord. All of your anxieties and fears over the future, from the big things to the smallest details are in His hands. Can you leave your plans there? Be encouraged by this, and by the words of the song by Phil Wickham, “Battle Belongs:”
So when I fight, I'll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
Oh God, the battle belongs to You
And every fear I lay at Your feet
I'll sing through the night
Oh God, the battle belongs to You
The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.