Proverbs 22:13

ESV The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!"
NIV The sluggard says, "There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!"
NASB The lazy one says, 'There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!'
CSB The slacker says, "There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!"
NLT The lazy person claims, 'There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!'
KJV The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
NKJV The lazy man says, “ There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”

What does Proverbs 22:13 mean?

The book of Proverbs contains many indictments of laziness (Proverbs 6:6–11; 12:24; 18:9; 19:15). Here, Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) notes the absurd lengths to which some people go to excuse their lack of effort. In this context, the person is trying to justify lack of work as if it's not only reasonable, but also more sensible than working. The suggestion that a lion might be lurking in city streets is meant to come across as exaggerated and silly. A modern equivalent might be a healthy person who claims it's better not to work, so they won't be at risk of a traffic accident…or being mauled by a tiger.

This example is deliberately extreme. Yet even less-dramatic pretexts can be just as unfair and unreasonable. Even if the excuse is attached to some measure of truth—such as fear of embarrassment or distaste for a task—it is still an unreasonable excuse for refusing to meet one's obligations. There are countless variations of excuses given by those who can work, but do not work, as they try to evade shame. Christians should be as supportive as possible of those legitimately prevented from earning a living (James 2:15–17; Proverbs 29:7) but should not humor those who are simply lazy (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
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