A Lion in the Streets!
1. So far, this chapter has described the “fool” in various ways.
2. Now, (from vs.13-16) Solomon describes the “sluggard” – the lazy man.
3. Verse 13 is a simple proverb, yet it has an important statement to make.
4. The point of the proverb is simple to understand: lazy people make excuses for their laziness.
A. Description of the slothful man
1. Slothful defined:
2. He is lazy.
3. He is foolish; laziness and folly go together.
4. He hates to be pressed to be diligent (either in his work or his faith)
5. He is either a liar or is deceived
6. He refuses to work… to be engaged in business… in activity… and sometimes even in social contact.
1. There is a lion in the streets!
a. He states that the “way” and the “streets” aren’t safe.
b. The “way” and the “streets” were where the markets were… where business was conducted.
c. He was excusing himself from taking care of his business… perhaps going to work at his little shop in the streets of the town.
d. Because of the possibility of meeting a lion in the street, he concludes that it is not safe for him to go there.
e. Because of his laziness and his disdain for work, even when there are no real difficulties to keep him from work, he imagines some. He makes them up—and seems to believe them!
f. He thinks that his reasoning is sensible and rational… but obviously, it is not.
g. Everyone else goes out into the streets to go to work and they are not attacked by lions.
h. Somehow, he has managed to convince himself of the danger… not because the danger is real, but because his hatred of work is real.
i. Prov. 20:4 – when it is time to plow, he comes up with an excuse: “It’s too cold out!” Lazy people have no lack of excuses for their laziness.
j. Of course, his excuses are designed to be a cover for his procrastination.
• I’d do it today, but it’s too cold out today. Mañana!
• I’d do it today, but I heard there were lions in the street today. I’ll do it tomorrow.
• And when tomorrow comes, there will be a new list of excuses.
• For him, tomorrow never comes—and the jobs never get done.
• He is the vintage procrastinator—and procrastinating is nothing other than laziness.
2. Today he would be diagnosed with some sort of phobia and would be medicated.
a. That’s what psychologists do today: they listen to the fears people have, call it a disease, and then provide medication to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
b. They actually convince people that they have a disease and that it is not their fault. They “caught” this disease (like catching a cold) and (like a cold) provide medication as the cure.
c. Solomon suggests taking another method of dealing with this phobia.
• Instead of recommending medication, Solomon recommends a good dose of reality.
» Solomon recommends pointing out that his fear is irrational and should be dropped.
» Solomon doesn’t fall for this person’s irrational excuse.
» Solomon doesn’t coddle this man in his fears. He uses the “glass of cold water in the face” method.
• Instead of blaming his fears on the environment, Solomon points out one’s personal responsibility to be diligent and go to work!
» Prov. 6:6-9 – Go to the ant you sluggard and take a good look and learn something! Get out of bed and go to work!
3. The psychology of the slothful man:
a. Solomon states here that the sluggard associates work with his worst fears –
• He associates going out to work with being eaten alive by a lion! (cf. Prov. 22:13)
• In his own twisted mind, he has associated two things that are really not related to each other.
• He has allowed himself to exaggerate fears and build mountains out of molehills in his own head.
• Of course, it is completely irrational to objective observers, but not to him.
• And this is a CHOICE that he made. It is not a disease that he innocently “caught.”
b. Here Solomon states that the way of the sluggard is like a hedge of thorns.
• By his own irrational imagination, he has hedged himself in to a position in which he sees no way out…
• He has constructed imaginary WALLS that prevent him from going to work… from cleaning the house… from doing his chores… from keeping up with his schoolwork.
• He begins to believe that the hedge is real and that he is trapped.
• He has let things pile up at work because of his lack of self-discipline.
• Thus, when he attempted to get busy, he was facing a MOUNTAIN of work that seemed overwhelming. It seemed impossible to tackle.
• Of course, had he been diligent all along, and kept up with it, it never would have developed into a mountain.
• Because he let his work pile up, he is surrounded by mountains of work… mountains too big to move.
• He finds himself hedged in… no way out… and thus, gives up even trying.
• In reality, it is his laziness that has hedged him in and created obstacles… but you will never convince him of that!
• Somehow, he has convinced himself that giving up and not doing anything is sensible.
c. This same kind of thinking can affect us too. Perhaps not to this degree, but it is the same KIND of thinking.
• For example, the housewife who lets her housework pile up. She too may feel hedged in. It may seem insurmountable… overwhelming… like a mountain that will never be moved… so she quits trying. Things don’t improve when you quit.
• Also, consider the student who gets behind in his work. This student convinces himself that the teacher has assigned too much work. It’s not fair. It’s too hard. I’ll never finish! Students, too, can be inventive about why they don’t have their homework: the dog ate it!
• Or what about the employee who is lazy at work and allows his work to pile up. He too makes excuses: the boss gives me more work than anyone else; it’s not fair. He may feel hedged in and trapped at work. He may even begin to make up excuses to stay at home. He probably will not call in and say, “There is a lion in the street”, but he may call in sick—when he’s not.
4. Application to our spiritual lives:
a. Just as the lazy man can find excuses for not going to work or keeping up with his chores, we can do the same in our spiritual lives.
b. We know we ought to be having a devotion time each day… but we always come up with excuses as to why we couldn’t do so today. Tomorrow I’ll get to it! I woke up late today… I had too much else to do… I had Red Sox tickets… I had to watch the president’s speech on TV… and on and on our excuses go.
c. Our excuses may seem reasonable to self—but not to God. He knows our heart. He is the One who is put in second or third place—behind all our excuses.
d. Or perhaps it is witnessing—we know we should, but we invent reasons to excuse ourselves. (This isn’t the time; he will hate me if I do; I don’t know enough about the Bible; what if he asks me something I can’t answer? I’m not cut out for that…)
e. Our proverb highlights the FOLLY of excuse making… and in doing so lays the blame on the shoulders of the lazy procrastinator.
f. Let’s pray that we would not invent excuses in our walk with God.