The Slothful Man and the Lion

  • Proverbs 22:13 “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”
  • Proverbs 26:13 “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.”

When I was in kindergarten, our family lived on a plot of undeveloped land in northern Florida. We only had a couple of neighbors around us for miles. As our family developed the land, we created a humongous pit to burn trash. One night after dark, I was told to take out the trash. As I opened the door, I heard the “rowr-ROWR” and saw the reflective eyes of a Florida cougar. I could have asked for help to scare away the feline, but instead, I said, “Nope, nu-uh, not going to go out there.”, turned around, shut the door behind me, left the trash to be thrown away for the morning, and didn’t tell anyone about it. 🙂 By morning, the cougar had torn open the trash I had left out, wreaking havoc on our yard.

As our global media and governments stir more and more fear in the masses, it would do well for us to meditate and memorize God’s Word concerning fear. Two very instructive passages, though, that are often overlooked in the realm of fear are seen in our text. Let’s break them down:

  • 1.“a lion” – Like my Florida cougar, a lion is a dangerous threat. In Israel at the time of Proverbs, lions roaming “without”, “in the way”, and “in the streets” was a very legitimate concern. This is evident by the fact that throughout the Bible we have several such incidents like Samson in Judges 14:5, David in I Sam. 17:34, Benaiah in II Sam 23:20, the young prophet in I Kings 13:24, and a prophet’s neighbor in I Kings 20:35. This man was not lying to suggest that he may “be slain in the streets” if he goes out.
  • 2.“The slothful man” – God’s use of “slothful” really puts a twist to our fears, and perhaps why these two verses aren’t often used in connection with fear. A slothful man is a lazy man, and the accusation of laziness is not what we want to hear when it comes to fear. We want comfort, not condemnation. Isn’t it interesting how God says a lazy man makes the legitimate excuse to not go outside because of the real threat of lions?

After such a revelation, I very much understand the various arguments that will come up. However, God is not advocating blindly going out in a cruel, dangerous world without safeguards and plans. If one looks at the entirety of Scripture, God has many passages dealing with proper planning (Lk. 14:28-33)and proper defense (Eph. 6:10-18). And yet, we still must leave the “safety” of our home or shy self or whatever and participate in a very dangerous world that God Himself warns as “perilous times” (II Tim. 3:1). Those who refuse to leave their safe space to live for God are not just fearful, but also, “slothful”. Why? You weren’t made for yourself. You were created for God (Rev. 4:11). Dear believer, like Jesus, you have a cross to bear. This cross will, in being a cross, hurt. Your cross will be heavy. Your cross will be dangerous. Your Savior died on His cross…for you. You cannot play “the slothful man”, and preserve your life; otherwise, you will lose it.

  • Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
  • 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

Let’s apply what we have learned. When sickness is in the streets, you do not stop having church like what happened with 2020’s and 2021’s Covid scares. When certain regions or peoples become antagonistic to the Gospel, you do not run away. You plan, pray, and prepare. As one modern English proverb goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” 🙂 Making excuses, even if they seem legitimate like a lion roaming the streets is akin to the slothful man who spends his days lazily in safety. For the righteous:

  • Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”