The slothful man says, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
Slothfulness being a common sin, the Book of Proverbs provides as many marks of this cursed condition as it would take to identify it in any person. And here we find another mark. Because of perceived obstacles in his way, the slothful man will not proceed to his work. As it turns out, real or perceived obstacles are a part of life. Whether it is working with a difficult coworker, or making cold calls in a marketing campaign, or working an endless string of bugs out of a computer program, life is filled with many challenges. You can stay awake late at night worrying about the challenges awaiting you in the workplace, or you can attack them with an optimistic vigor in the morning. It takes a relentless, steady force to make it through the obstacle course of life.
Somebody once said, “Half of the potential problems we worry about never happen; and half of the problems that do come about, we never bothered to worry about.” So does this mean that we are doing the right amount of worrying? While there may or may not be much truth in that statement, it is still important that we address the problems that are real. In the case of the slothful man, his negative view toward the future constantly generates problems in his mind that have little to do with reality. He discourages himself from work by refusing to deal in reality with real, objective problems. It is practically impossible to foresee all of the potential problems, let alone solve all of those problems in a project before addressing yourself to the project. For one thing, imaginary problems are hard to define. Diligent people appreciate problem solving. They are problem solvers. Once they have a real, definable problem, they set out to identify effective solutions to the problem.
Children will learn the form of diligence stressed in this proverb as they confront increasingly difficult lessons while they study mathematics. At some point, the material may become so intimidating that they begin to avoid it entirely. They gripe and complain over the difficulty of the material. They may even rely on their parents or tutors to solve all the most difficult problems for them. But in these sequential programs, it is unwise to move along in the course before the students have comprehended the previously-presented material. So there is only one thing for the child to do. Get a gun, shoot the lion, and go plow the fields! Thus, you can see that diligence is a heart attitude. It is the “can-do” attitude that is committed to getting the job done whatever the cost. Our children should learn these lessons well in their early years if they will effectively address the lion problems in their adult years.
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
What a strange spell the sensuous harlot casts upon some young men! She draws men into her trap like a moth to a flame or a dust particle to a vacuum cleaner. But some men are able to resist her most tempting wiles. They can see through the temptation to the demonic source of it. It is not that these men are insensitive to attraction. It is just that God has Himself strengthened them from giving in to the thing that could destroy their souls. So the reason that some men are easy prey to the temptress is that the Lord has chosen not to bless them with adequate defenses against her temptations. And the reason He will not bless them is that He finds them abhorrent. These are chilling words. Sometimes we may wonder why a friend or relative is easily taken by the sin of adultery or fornication, and here is the answer. It all leads back to the adulterer’s estranged relationship with God Himself. Until that condition is fixed by the electing and regenerating grace of God, sixteen teams of work horses could not keep him out of trouble.
1. How do you handle tough problems and obstacles in your life? Do you procrastinate or do you work through your problems?
2. Who is the “strange woman” who is referred to several times in the Proverbs? Why do some men fall into the traps set by this woman?