Proverbs 26:13

ESV The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”
NIV A sluggard says, 'There's a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!'
NASB A lazy one says, 'There is a lion on the road! A lion is in the public square!'
CSB The slacker says, "There's a lion in the road -- a lion in the public square! "
NLT The lazy person claims, 'There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!'
KJV The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

What does Proverbs 26:13 mean?

This lesson starts a section focused on the idea of laziness. A "sluggard" is someone characterized by idleness, indifference, or lack of energy. This is almost identical to the statement made in Proverbs 22:13 and follows the pattern of many other statements in the book (Proverbs 6:6–11; 12:24; 18:9; 19:15).

What's implied here is that the lazy person is inventing ridiculous excuses for not leaving their home to work. Human nature often leads people to justify their sin as if it were the better option. In a modern context, someone might claim they're afraid of being struck by a meteor or kidnapped by an enemy army. Such things are not literally impossible, but clearly not excuses reasonable people would use. Later proverbs make this comment more directly (Proverbs 26:16).

Even when there's a tinge of truth to an excuse, it's still a sin not to meet one's obligations. Excuses meant to deflect shame are countless, when someone could work, but does not want to work. Those who truly cannot work should be supported with love and compassion (James 2:15–17; Proverbs 29:7). Those who are simply lazy should be corrected and not humored; in fact, the Bible says they should not be helped, at all (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12).
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