The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
Is there a lion in your way? On your street? What excuse do you use to justify not working diligently and successfully? Solomon wrote this proverb to mock and ridicule the excuses slothful men make to avoid working hard and completing projects (Pr 22:13).
Lazy men always have a reason why they do not get jobs done on time, but their reasons are as foolish as claiming a lion kept them from work. A sluggard is so proud in his mind and that he will try to justify his behavior even to seven successful men (Pr 26:16).
There is no doubt the lion is a fearful animal. He is called the king of beasts for good reason. God inspired Agur to write that a male lion turns away from no other creature (Pr 30:30). His beauty is the great strength and fearlessness with which he carries himself, which is primarily seen in the male lion for his much greater size and regal appearance. His head and mane are glorious. He is a beautiful and frightening sight.
A male lion is fearful. They may grow to 8 feet in length (not counting the tail), 4 feet in height (at the shoulder), and weigh 600 pounds. An average lion has a vertical jump of 12 feet and can run over 40 mph for short distances. His fore body is so strong that he can knock a zebra off its feet and break its back with a swipe of his paw. His roar is so powerful and loud it can be heard six miles away. You would not want one in your street.
The proverb has no real lion. It is only a sluggard’s excuse to justify procrastination, laziness, and lack of finished projects. If he did not use a lion for his excuse, he will use cold weather (Pr 20:4; 22:13). He will use any reason he can invent to excuse his slothfulness. He prefers his warm bed, where he can sleep (Pr 20:13; 24:30-34; 26:14).
Slothfulness, a negative attitude about work, is self-fulfilling. The slothful man meets many difficulties in his feeble attempts to work. His attitude turns mere challenges into disasters (Pr 15:19; 19:15). And God blows against Him, for He cannot tolerate laziness (Pr 6:6-11). Life is difficult for him. He deceives himself that successful men had it easy.
Great men do not fear lions or obstacles in their way, and they surely do not invent them. They trust the living God, Who will help them accomplish anything they set their minds to do. Caleb, who watched Israel turn back toward Egypt due to giants in Canaan, waited 45 long years until he could take on those intimidating giants himself (Joshua 14:6-15).
The cure for sluggards is starvation (Pr 20:4; II Thes 3:10). Any man will work hard when his belly is empty (Pr 16:26). Lions disappear when a man is hungry enough. Learn an important part of Christian charity – the lazy should not be subsidized. If you feed lazy or foolish persons, you are an accomplice in their sin of sloth or waste (Pr 18:9).
Apply the lesson to yourself. What should you be doing that you are not doing? Where are lions in your life? What project or goal has you intimidated or fearful? Do not let a little difficulty or a few setbacks discourage or destroy you. Get out in the street and take on whatever you need to be doing. The LORD God will bless the diligent.
One Man had a lion in His way and in the street He had to travel – Jesus Christ. But He never complained or made excuses about the horrific job He had to do. He went to the cross and died as the Substitute for His chosen people God had given Him to redeem. The devil was the lion in His way, but Jesus gloriously triumphed over him during His life and at His death (Matt 4:1-11; John 14:30; Rom 8:37; Col 2:15; Heb 2:14; I John 3:8).