When you watch a lion roam his turf at a zoo or nature park, what do you think of? You probably think of power, strength, and control as this large beast surveys the land around him. You see a creature who is not afraid of others and is willing to stand his ground when an intruder tries to take over.
Lions in the eyes of God are not just powerful animals, but also creatures that know when it is time to be brave in the face of danger. It’s no wonder the character of the lion is discussed in the books of Revelation, Psalms, and Genesis, or represents Jesus as the lion of Judah.
However, in Proverbs 28:1, the boldness of a lion is the focus, as it compares to how the wicked reacts in times of difficulty or uncertainty.
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Those who are righteous in the eyes of God are said in this Scripture to be as bold as lions, standing firm in the faith while others of lesser faith (or no faith) flee.
But why would the righteous be called bold as lions? Why must they be bold as lions when it would be easier to run and hide? When it comes to Proverbs, the answer will be nothing but profound.
What Is the Context of Proverbs 28?
Many believe the wise words of King Solomon are what fill the pages of the book of Proverbs, but we can safely assume that he was probably one of a few other authors, as some Scriptures indicate the writing style of others in the text.
However, we do know that King Solomon was very wise and even stated he was the wisest man of his time in the book of 1 Kings 4:29-32.
Viewing wisdom as significant embodies the context of the book of Proverbs, as it is to provide guidance and wisdom to men and women, “giving prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Prov. 1:4) while also improving the wisdom of the wise (Prov. 1:5).
Many love the words of Proverbs as they provide short and clever nuggets of wisdom on everything from handling anger to the ways of a true Christian woman to how to build a godly character. The treasures of Proverbs are in knowing that what is shared is pleasing to God and provides knowledge to cut through the deceptions of the world.
Such is the case for Proverbs 28:1. This verse follows Proverbs 27 in talking about the importance of people sharpening one another in relationships (iron sharpening iron) and displaying a godly character that others not only admire but seek to follow as well.
As we go through Proverbs 28, we see there are definite contrasts in character between those who are proud and those who are humble. Those who are proud don’t find fault in themselves and are quick to do wickedness for their own gain, while the humble concentrate on doing what is right for God and so others can be saved as well.
Proverbs 28:1 seems to begin the chapter appropriately in showing two contrasting sides – the righteous and the unrighteous – and stating that while the unrighteous run away from challenges, even though no one is chasing them, the righteous stand their ground boldly like lions and seek to conquer the challenges.
Who Are the Righteous?
It is easy to spot the righteous while reading Proverbs 28, as they are the ones that shy away from wickedness and doing things to better themselves, and focus more on helping the needs of others and seeking after God’s will.
Proverbs 28:12 even shares what life is like when the righteous prosper instead of the unrighteous: “When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves.” This Scripture shows that the righteous give glory to God when they triumph, but when evil wins, people hide themselves in fear and shame.
In light of Proverbs 28:1, we see that righteousness resembles that of a bold lion, standing in the face of danger, unafraid and unwilling to yield. This is in contrast to the unrighteous or wicked who choose to run instead of face their fears, further showing that in righteousness, there is strength. In unrighteousness, there is only fear.
Why Can the Righteous Be Bold as Lions?
Boldness comes from an inner certainty that whatever is about to come against you, it won’t triumph because of what you have inside. This inner certainty for those who are righteous is knowing that we are saved by Jesus and are in a restored relationship with God.
Those who are righteous know that trials, enemies, and evil schemes from Satan will always be in our paths, but like bold lions we stand firm in our faith in God, knowing that through Jesus we will triumph in the end. Even if they are met with earthly deaths, the righteous know that they will be welcomed into their heavenly homes with God, greeted by Jesus personally.
The unrighteous don’t have this assurance that they will be okay, which is why they flee even though no one is “chasing” them. They let fear get the best of them, as they have nothing to stand on against struggles and pain, and try to stay alive by running and seeking to avoid the inevitable (which they also don’t know what happens after as well). They are scared of the future, while the righteous knows the future is heaven.
We as believers of Christ can also be bold as lions, even if we are scared of what lays ahead. One way we can become bold like lions is reading the stories of the Bible to remind us of what Jesus did for us so that we could be strong in our faith in God.
Another way we can be bold is through prayer, falling to the feet of God in humility to seek His will and to be reminded that He goes before us to prepare the way of victory.
Finally, we can be boldest together with fellow Christians, sharpening one another as we all look toward difficult situations, knowing that the victory is ahead, and it has Jesus all over it.
What Side Are You On?
We may not be covered with fur and roar when we want to communicate, but there are ways we can have the boldness of lions as we stand against adversity. As Proverbs 28:1 states, the righteous stand in bold faith against adversity while the wicked flees in fear, even though no one pursues them.
The wise words of Proverbs demonstrates that there are two distinct sides to handling wisdom in life: one side does what they feel is right and what will benefit only themselves, while the other side seek to fulfill God’s will and help those around them know God through the sacrifice of Jesus.
So, as we continue living in a world that seems to get harder to live in, we need to take a lesson from the lions and be bold in our faith, standing firm against the slings and arrows of the enemy. This is because, unlike the righteous, we have the assurance that no matter what the outcome of our earthly lives will be, our boldness in faith means we have a heavenly home waiting for us.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Hans Veth
Blair Parke is a freelance writer for BibleStudyTools.com, and previously worked for eight years with Xulon Press. A graduate of Stetson University with a Bachelor's in Communications, Blair previously worked as a writer/editor for several local magazines in the Central Florida area, including Celebration Independent and Lake Magazine in Leesburg, Florida and currently freelances for the Southwest Orlando Bulletin.