Friday, August 12, 2016

Proverbs 22:13 --- Real and Imaginary Lions

Proverbs 22:13 --- Real and Imaginary Lions
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”

This verse causes us to laugh at its absurdity.  The sluggard in Proverbs is a sad, pathetic figure, and often the butt of jokes.  But unlike the humor in our society, the humor in God's Word serves an instructional purpose to warn, edify, and motivate us toward fulfilling our calling to glorify the Lord with our lives.  Forgetfulness of his calling and purpose is at the heart of the sluggard's problems, as it is at the heart of all of our problems.

Because the sluggard does not fear the Lord, he becomes subject to a host of external fears, some of which have a basis in reality, and some that don't.  This particular fear of being killed by a lion, is mostly unfounded, and part of the paranoia which sets in when a man foregoes the fear of the Lord.

As we saw just a few verses back, the sluggard's true concern should be his sinful desires that truly will kill him!  "The desire of the sluggard kills him . . . all day long he craves (desires) and craves" (21:25-26).  These are the sinful desires that should scare us to death, and should be put to death, according to our Lord:

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. . . . be reconciled to your brother" (Matthew 5:21-22, 24).

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:27-29).

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

Here is the evil triumvirate of anger/hate, lust, and the love of money that should be the anxiety of our souls, since they can send us to hell!  But the sluggard gives in to these sinful desires, and so not fearing the Lord, he is beset by a different kind of fear not based in reality.  He fears a lion attack!

Now, while lion attacks were not unheard of in ancient Israel, they were rare.  A prophet, in 1 Kings 13, was killed by a lion, because he disobeyed the word of the Lord.  The proof that this was the Lord's judgment against the prophet was that when the slain man was found, he was laying unmauled next to the lion and the prophet's donkey!  Unusual behavior from both lions and donkeys!  The point of the story is that our safety lies in trusting and obeying the Word of God, something the sluggard has abandoned in order to pursue his sinful desires.  A more reasonable fear when we abandon the Word of God to gratify our lusts, is the fear of falling into the hands of the devil, whom Peter names "a roaring lion."  The key to fulfilling our calling is to live in the fear of the Lord, whose fear casts out all other fears.  The New Testament calls us to humble ourselves to receive his grace, to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and to walk with him by faith, with the sure hope that he will graciously bring us to the glory of our eternal home:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:6-11)




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