Verse 13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder. Over force and fraud shalt thou march victoriously; bold opponents and treacherous adversaries shall alike be trodden down. When our shoes are iron and brass lions and adders are easily enough crushed beneath our heel.
The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. The strongest foe in power, and the most mysterious in cunning, shall be conquered by the man of God. Not only from stones in the way, but from serpents also, shall we be safe. To men who dwell in God the most evil forces become harmless, they wear a charmed life, and defy the deadliest ills. Their feet come into contact with the worst of foes, even Satan himself nibbles at their heel, but in Christ Jesus they have the assured hope of bruising Satan under their feet shortly. The people of God are the real "George and the dragon," the true lion kings and serpent tamers. Their dominion over the powers of darkness makes them cry, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy word."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. What avails a human foot among these? What force of human affection can stand fast among such terrible monsters? These are spiritual wickednesses, and are designated by not incongruous titles... One is an asp, another a basilisk, a third a lion, and a fourth a dragon, because each in his own invisible way variously wounds, -- one by his bite, another by his look, a third by his roar or blow, and a fourth by his breath...
Consider this also, whether perchance we are able to meet these four temptations with four virtues. The lion roars, who will not fear? If any there be, he shall be brave. But when the lion is foiled, the dragon lurks in the sand, in order to excite the soul with his poisonous breath; breathing therein the lust of earthly things. Who, think you, shall escape his wiles? None but the prudent. But perhaps whilst you are careful in attacking these, some annoyance vexes you; and lo! the asp is upon you forthwith. For he seems to have found for himself a seasonable moment. Who is he that shall not be exasperated by this asp? Certainly the man of temperance and modesty, who knows how to abound, and to suffer want. On this opportunity, I think, the Evil Eye with its wicked allurements may determine to fascinate thee. Who shall turn away his face? Truly the just man, who not only desires not to take to himself the glory due to God, but not even to receive what is presented by another: if yet he is a just man, that justly executes what is just, who performs not his righteousness before men, who, lastly, although he is just, lifts not up his head. For this virtue consists specially in humility. This purifies the intention, this also obtains merit all the more truly and effectually, because it arrogates less to itself. Bernard.
Verse 13. Adder. The pethen is classed with the lion as being equally to be dreaded by the traveller... There is no doubt that the Egyptian cobra is the pethen of Scripture. J. G. Wood.
Verse 13. Dragon. The expression is used
- for "sea monsters,"
- for serpents,
- for wild beasts or birds characteristic of desolate places, and
- it is used figuratively to represent the enemies of the Lord, and especially Pharaoh, as head and representative of the Egyptian power, and Nebuchadnezzar, the head and representative of the Chaldean monarchy. The term is thus a general one, signifying any monstrous creature, whether of the land or of the water, and is to be set down with the one or the other, according as the context indicates. John Duns, in "Biblical Natural Science."
Verse 13. Thou shalt tread upon; thou shalt trample under feet. Thou shalt tread upon them, not accidentally, as a man treads upon an adder or a serpent in the way; but his meaning is, thou shalt intentionally tread upon them like a conqueror, thou shalt tread upon them to testify the dominion over them, so when the Lord Jesus gave that promise ( Luke 10:19 ) to his disciples, that they should do great things, he saith, You shall tread upon serpents; that is, you shall have power to overcome whatsoever may annoy you: serpentine power is all hurtful power, whether literal or mystical. As the Apostle assures all believers ( Romans 16:20 ), "God shall tread down Satan (that old serpent) under your feet shortly." Joseph Caryl.
Verse 13 (second clause). But what is said unto Christ? And thou shalt tread on the lion and dragon. Lion, for overt wrath; dragon for covert lurking. Augustine.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 13. The believer's love set upon God.
- Every child of God has his enemies.
- They are numerous: "the lion, adder, young lion, dragon."
- Diversified: subtle and powerful-- "lion and adder;" new and old -- "young lion" and the" old dragon."
- He will finally obtain a complete victory over them -- "Thou shalt tread," etc.; "shall put thy foot," etc.; "the Lord shall bruise Satan," etc. G. R.