John T. Willis

Friday, October 02, 2009


From my childhood, I have always been intrigued by lions. As a child, there was a zoo nearby, and we could hear the lions roaring at a distance. We often went to view the lions. Evelyn and I have been to Masai Mara in Kenya on two occasions, and have spent several days in the wild watching lions, along with many other kinds of wild animals.

Lions were quite common in Israel in Bible times, but in recent decades, lions have disappeared from North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia. Lions are a favorite for people of all ages in zoos around the world. I hope you enjoy and appreciate lions. Lions are God's creatures.

There are numerous references to lions throughout the Bible. Here are a few examples.

1. David as a young lad took care of his father's [Jesse's] sheep. It was common that lions would attack a flock of sheep, and David would have to stand in the way and defend the sheep. When David was talking to Saul about going into single battle against Goliath, David gave this defense in 1 Samuel 17:34-37:
"But David said to Saul, 'Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a LION or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuingt he lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both LIONS and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since has defied the armies of the living God.' David said, 'The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the LION and from the paw of the bear, will same me from the hand of this Philistine.' So Saul said to David, 'Go, and may the Lord be with you!'"

2. Amos compares God's impending punishment of sinful North Israel with a lion pouncing on a prey. Note Amos 3:7-8, 12.
"Surely the Lord God does nothing,
without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
The LION has roared; who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy? . . .
Thus says the Lord: As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the LION two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of israel who live in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed."

3. Proverbs 28:15 describes a wicked ruler this way:
"Like a ROARING LION or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people."

4. The composer of Psalm 22 compares his persecutors with vicious lions. Note Psalm 22:12-13, 20-21a:
"Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the MOUTH OF THE LION!"

5. Hosea 11:10-11 compares Yahweh's deliverance of the Israelites from captivity with lion roaring to call his children from captivity back to the land of Canaan.
"They shall go after the Lord,
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord."

Of course, lions are dangerous and can kill human beings. But lions have an important role in God's created world. I hope you will respect and appreciate lions.

How do you respond to lions? What lessons can YOU learn from lions? Share your thoughts will others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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