God’s Word for You
Proverbs 28:1 Bold as a lion
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, June 18, 2020
Almost every proverb in this chapter is about the wicked when they “rise to power” (Proverbs 28:28). The wicked man in power lets or causes his country to spiral out of control (Proverbs 28:2, 25, 28), he oppresses the poor even while he makes them think he is helping them (Proverbs 28:3, 8, 11, 22, 24), and he does not care for the welfare of his people (Proverbs 28:5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 27). Solomon prophesies that such a man will come to ruin (Proverbs 28:10, 18, 19) and he will certainly not escape punishment (Proverbs 28:20). God will not hear his prayers (Proverbs 28:9).
28 The guilty flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
In his commentary on this verse, Bridges aptly says: “Adam knew no fear, till he became a guilty creature.” The guilty can put up a brave front until conscience or evidence turns against them; then they run (even, Solomon points out, if nobody pursues). They became afraid of consequences, until even a windblown leaf terrifies them (Leviticus 26:36). They run “overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread” (Psalm 53:5). And just as guilt brings fear along with it, innocence is also accompanied by bravery. What has innocence to fear from a just court?
It was faith that made David bold as a lion even as he faced a lion (1 Samuel 17:34). It is faith that brings each of us into God’s arms so that he commands his angels to guard us and protect us, even if we face lions and cobras (Psalm 91:11-13). The righteousness of faith makes us trust in God, who in turn says, “Because he trusts me, I will rescue him. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name” (Psalm 91:13).
Does this mean that this leonine Christian boldness is impervious to error or fear? Of course not. We live at the same time as saints and sinners. The Apostle John makes a distinction between “committing sin” (ἁμαρτίαν ποιεῖν, 1 John 3:9) and “having sin” (ἁμαρτίαν ἔχειν, 1 John 1:8). Christians, as F. Pieper explains, “do not ‘commit sin,’ that is, that they do not permit sin to ruler over them, to give it free rein; they ‘have sin,’ but in the power of the new man, the offspring of God, they control sin” (Christian Dogmatics III,32). Paul says: “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). This means that our sanctified life (the life of the believer) will still contain sins and will always be imperfect. This isn’t an excuse to let sin rule over us. It should delight us and amaze us that we are not overwhelmed by sin’s passions the way that the world is, that we are able, even in a limited way, to say ‘no’ to sin. God be praised for our lionlike Christian courage! Be bold as you live out your life of faith.
Pastor Timothy Smith