Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.Proverbs 22:13
In the text before us the slothful man is made to give the reason for his slothfulness. Of course it is easy to see that his reply is a mere excuse. He does not want to bestir himself. He much prefers the comfort of his own fireside. Still he must show some reason for his conduct. This lion is simply the creature of his lively imagination. Yet in his judgment any excuse is better than no excuse at all, hence his words 'There is a lion without, in the streets'.
I. No man can close his ears to the call of duty from either real or imaginary dangers without a tremendous loss to himself. 'The slothful man saith, there is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.' He refuses the call of duty in consequence. Does he remain the same as before? By no means. He is poorer in every way. He is poorer because he refuses that activity which is life to all created beings. It is a most instructive study to note how severely nature punishes all refusals to exercise that energy by which growth and progress are accomplished. What we call a freak in nature is, in almost every case, nature's punishment of the slothful. It is even so in the moral and spiritual world.
II. There is in that moral and spiritual world an universal duty relative to God on the one hand and man on the other. We are all brought face to face with a duty we owe to God, an obligation to worship Him in spirit and in truth. There is a call of His Spirit which comes to every man.
The slothful man knows full well that though the lion is but a mere excuse, the vain creation of his own imagination, yet there is involved in the call to action perils of a very real kind. The soul that arrays itself by the side of Jesus Christ, and in every thought, word, and deed, seeks to translate into its own life the spirit of the Lord, will find the lion without in the street.
The call of the human is as imperative and universal as the call of the Divine. God is calling us up in worship, and man is calling us out in service, and both unite in demanding that we should spend and be spent in the kingdom of Christ.
III. Let us consider the effect of the conduct of the slothful man upon himself. The path of the slothful endeth in death. He turns in upon himself, and feeds upon his own soul, and is as the camel in the desert who feeds upon its own hump, and when that is done dies. Christ has indicated the end of the slothful man. 'Whosoever shall save his life shall lose it.' His real danger is from within. He is his greatest enemy.
—J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p. 14.
The greatest foe in Central Africa is the terrible sleep sickness. The victim gradually, but none the less surely, settles down into a sleep from which there is no awakening in this world. In its first stages at any rate activity is salvation. Slothfulness is a mental and moral sleep sickness. From its terrible end we may be saved if taken in time. But there is only one invariable effect Its feet lead down to the valley of death. True life is the very opposite to the slothful, and is incompatible with luxury and ease.
—J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p. 23.
References.—XXII. 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1670. XXII. 22, 23.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven far Life on Earth, p. 465. XXIII. 1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p. 99. XXIII. 1-3.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 460.
The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.