At one time in my life, I was told that I needed to be bolder. As a boy, I lacked confidence and tended to avoid conflict like the plague. I fared better by myself and supplemented that time by reading about great titans of history. I focused my reading on those whose sharp minds, courageous actions and uncompromising manners could be called upon to lead the world through its darkest hours. Books with titles such as The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm 1940-1965 and American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House briefly conveyed my admiration of men who were fearless and could hold their own in the world. Nonetheless, my flesh was content with where I was, merely thinking or daydreaming about bold people and not focused on action. I was comfortable and fearful of challenging the things I didn’t want to do but knew deep down what I should be doing. (Galatians 5:17)
It wasn’t until recently in my Bible reading that I learned the phrase, “bold as a lion” came from God’s Word in the Old Testament. I would like to share its greatness: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” – Proverbs 28:1
Some may quickly look at this verse, and see it as a watchword for pursuing the worldly evil and seeking justice for those who harm others. Although noble, this verse does not address the assumed perspective of man versus man. Instead, it discusses the inner consciences of man’s guilt that accompanies an adversary of God. Virgil concisely revealed this truth when he wrote, “Degeneres animos timor arguit—fear betrays ignoble souls.” To press forward this point, Matthew Henry’s once wrote:
“Guilt in the conscience makes men a terror to themselves so that they are ready to flee when none pursues; like one that absconds for debt, who thinks everyone he meets a bailiff. Though they pretend to be easy, there are secret fears [which] haunt them wherever they go, so that they fear where no present or imminent danger is. Those that have made God their enemy, and know it, cannot but see the whole creation at war with them, and therefore can have no true enjoyment of themselves, no confidence, no courage, but a fearful looking for of judgment. Sin makes men cowards.”
As a follower of Christ, this thought of boldness differs with much of what the world says. Spiritual boldness is an attitude of a firm trust in almighty God, such that it brings a serenity of mind that empowers fearlessness in the believer’s duties. That attitude is based on a firm foundation rooted in Christ and comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Worldly boldness looks outward in its effort to seek approval from others. It’s often characterized as rash and used to prove to others and ourselves the greatness of our lives. If we’re successful, the impulsivity leads to inward thoughts of the prominence of our own instinct without truth, knowledge, and discernment (Proverbs 13:16).
Let us consider the lion and what this animal is meant to illustrate for a righteous people. The lion is the king of beasts because he is the strongest of the beasts. (Proverbs 30:30) Matthew Henry writes, “Among beasts, it is the strength that gives the pre-eminence, but it is a pity that it should do so among men, whose wisdom is their honor, not their strength or force.” God provides us with wisdom through our belief in Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
The lion knows who he is, the protector of the pride. He patrols his territory and does not turn away from his duty. So too is the Christian, that they do not turn away from their duty for fear of any difficulty they encounter for their confidence is in Christ. (Philippians 4:13)
Lastly, the lion is courageous, and if he is hungry, he will go after almost anything. That is the type of courage displayed by Daniel, Moses, Elijah, David, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Paul, and Jesus. These men and women knew they were righteous, and therefore bold and fearless as lions