Lions and Apostates
“Oh, put God to the test and see how kind he is! See for yourself the way his mercies shower down on all who trust in him. If you belong to the Lord, reverence him; for everyone who does this has everything he needs. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those of us who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10 LB)
The young lion instinctively understands that he is the king of the beasts. His unflinching stride, craftiness as a hunter and terrifying roar all bespeak an animal that possesses an unwavering degree of self-confidence.
The Living Bible rightly uses the word “lions,” as that is the literal term for the Hebrew word kephîyr. But it would be good to remember that the word lion is also employed—in all languages—to describe people. In fact, a quick scan through a thesaurus offers quite a few interesting synonyms: man of courage, conqueror, big shot, great man, dignitary, etc. Thus, it is more understandable why other Bible versions use figurative language in their interpretations of this verse:
• The renegade may be in need, and go hungry… (Har)
• Apostates may be famishing and starving…(Mof)
• Rich men have become poor and hungry… (Sept)
The truth of the matter is that the powerful lion is an apt illustration of capable people in this world—most especially those who feel no need to rely on God; people such as renegades, apostates and rich men.
Like the great cat, such people develop a strong sense of confidence at an early age. Driven by ambition and dreams of success, they throw themselves into their chosen occupations with all the energy their youth has to offer. Their level of confidence grows until they come to believe that they can surmount any obstacle, rise to any challenge and push through their own agenda in any situation.
Past successes make them oblivious to their human frailty. They don’t seem to realize that at any time they could contract a debilitating disease, face an unexpected economic setback or even be struck down with an untimely death. Their temporal fate lies completely at the whim of a world which can be very cruel. In the end, self-reliant people feel no need for God’s help; therefore they will receive none.
What a sharp contrast they are with the “poor and needy” who must cry out for God’s aid. Their condition does not necessarily mean that they are incompetent or insecure. This poverty of spirit simply means that they have learned that they need God’s help and that He can be counted on to provide it.
David claims that all who reverence God will be well cared for. Perhaps the best way to describe the difference between such people and the self-reliant lies in their perspective of God. The Lord is very tiny in the minds of those who are brimming with self-confidence. They are full of themselves and have little room left over for God or anyone else. On the other hand, God looms very large in the heart of those who fear Him.
The truth is that God-fearing souls are the joy of the Lord’s heart. He truly loves to shower His mercies “down on all who trust in him.” Let us put everything that concerns us today into His trustworthy hands and watch as He takes good care of our lives.
And how about you? Where does your trust lie? Are you strong in yourself and weak in Christ or weak in yourself and strong in Christ? I realize you have “trusted Christ for salvation,” but have you yet come to know what it means to trust Him for the details of your daily life?