Richard Burson

“My soul is among lions” (Psa. 574).

The lions in our verse are the adversaries of the soul. The world and all that is in the world that is opposed to God is meant. The path of wandering and fellowship with unbelievers who scoff at Christ and the Word of God is meant. The soul that is consciously among lions truly enjoys the fellowship of other believers. When lions are known to be about, you do not need to call the flock together: the flock instinctively clings to each another when there are lions. The soul among lions will be driven closer to God. The very proximity of danger makes the tower of safety more evident. We do not need to push ourselves to pray when the danger in imminent. Matthew Henry said once: “Short prayers are long enough.”

In the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Christian was approaching the Palace Beautiful where there was warmth and welcome and refreshment. Just as Christian was approaching the Palace Beautiful, he met two lions who roared at him. He stood trembling in the path. A man named Watchful heard the roar and saw Christian and called to him in a loud voice: “Stay in the middle of the path. The lions are chained and cannot hurt you if you stay in the middle of the path.” Christian stayed in the middle and safely passed the lions. It took a lion on either side of the path to convince Christian to stay in the middle. Lions serve God’s purpose. God uses even the terrible roar of the lion to force a believer into the place where He would have him. He uses the roar of the lion to awaken the sleepy Christian who has strayed to the edge of the path.

When your soul is among lions, remember that you have a lion with you. Don’t forget the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He is fiercer than any lion you will meet on the road to the Celestial City. He is strong, brave and true. The other lions are afraid of Him.

Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than it had ever been and had the three Hebrew children thrown in. Men perished from the horrible flames as they threw them into the fiery furnace. Later Nebuchadnezzar looked in and was amazed to see not three but four men walking in the fire as if strolling through a park surrounded by green grass and lovely shade trees. One of these looked like the Son of God; He was the Son of God.

Daniel was thrown into the den of lions; he was a man of God, so God kept him from the lions. What a testimony Daniel was because of the deliverance he had experienced from God! Are you in the midst of lions? Remember Daniel! Remember the fiery furnace! You will be delivered even as Daniel and be a better man for the experience.

There is certain behaviour we must learn in dealing with lions; some simple rules of thumb that all believers should know. Never irritate lions. Some seem to have the knack of keeping the lions upset and angry. A large sign at Swope Park says: “Don’t tease the animals. Don’t feed the lions.” Good advice! Don’t tease them. You will not become too friendly with them, of course, but you must not cause them unhappiness or unneccessary pain. Another simple rule for lion-walking in this world: Don’t act like a lion. When the lion roars out threats and terrors, don’t you roar back. Simple rule, isn’t it? You can laugh all you want, but many a believer who finds himself among lions has taken up the tactics of lions — roaring right back. Nothing sounds quite so hollow as imitating the roars of a lion. If lions have any sense of humor, they must enjoy the feeble attempts to roar like them. Frankly, I don’t know much about lion-taming, but I am told —strictly from reading I learned this — that lions respond to a firm hand, courageous heart and kindness.

The kind of lions which trouble us need to be met with a firm hand and a courageous heart. Don’t be a coward when lions are about.

I read a story of Mary Slessor the intrepid missionary who, single-handed, turned back two tribes of warriors and stopped an inter-tribal war. Once Mary met a lion coming toward her on the path. She was alone. Mary didn’t even know how to aim a gun. She had an umbrella which she aimed at the lion and prayed to God to help her, and looking the beast straight in the eyes, she said firmly (Mind you, with nothing but an umbrella between her and the lion.) “Get out of here in the Name of the Lord Jesus.” The lion stopped in his tracks and sniffed at the point of her umbrella. Nothing daunted. Mary repeated; “Get out of here in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The lion turned and ambled away through the bush leaving Mary alone. Mary didn’t go home and brag about her faith. We would not know her story except through men who had come upon the scene. I suppose it was all in the day’s work for Mary Slessor, taming lions. Don’t ever turn your back to a lion. He will strike you down with one fell swipe of his awful paw.