The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
The slothful man saith,.... Within himself; or to such that excite him to diligence and industry, to go about the business of his calling, to till his field, and dress his vineyard. The Septuagint and Arabic versions add, "being sent into the way"; ordered by his master to go out to work, when he makes the following excuse:
There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets; in the way to his field or vineyard, and in the streets, where his business lies or leads unto it: a very idle excuse this; since lions are usually in woods, forests, and desert places, and not in public roads, and much less in streets of cities; see Proverbs 22:13. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion; the "way" and "streets" may denote public ordinances, which are the ways of God's appointing, prescribing, and directing to; and in which good men walk, and find pleasure and profit; and are the streets where Wisdom cries, or Christ is preached, and where he is sought for and found: but many are the excuses some men make not to attend them; see Luke 14:17; though they are vain, frivolous, and foolish, as this here; for in these ways and streets may true seen the feet of the messengers of peace; here the turtle's voice, the joyful sound of salvation by Christ, may be heard; here the Lamb of God is directed to, to be looked at, as taking away the sins of men, having been slain, and having shed his blood for the redemption of them: and though the terrible voice of the law may be sometimes heard, which is necessary to arouse and awaken sleepy sinners, and unhinge self-righteous persons from a dependence on the works of the law; yet, afterwards comes the still small voice of the Gospel, proclaiming freedom from the curse and condemnation of the law by Christ. Indeed, in some ages, there have been violent persecutors, comparable to lions; and informers have been in the way and in the streets, to terrify saints from their duty; but none of these could move them from it, nor separate fully gracious souls from their love to Christ: though carnal slothful professors are offended, when tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, these are lions to them; and, in times of peace and liberty, they can paint lions, very terrible to themselves, and raise such difficulties as are insuperable to them; a slight disorder of body, a small inclemency of the weather, little danger of catching cold, and the like, shall be a lion to them: not considering they have a devouring lion nearer them in their houses, chambers, and on their beds with them; even Satan, in whose clutches they are, who keeps their goods in peace, by whom they are led captive, and to whom they fall a prey: nor fearing the wrath of the King of kings, which is as the roaring of a lion: the wrath of God and of the Lamb, who is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and whose day of wrath will be such as none will be able to bear.