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Lion Psalms

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In the tenth Psalm the author speaks about the way of the wicked one who plagues society. Being the arrogant person that he is, he bursts with self-confidence and attacks others by lying in wait.

He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent
watching in secret for his victims.

He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. (Ps. 10:8-9)1

So great is his attack that he crushes his victims and “they fall under his strength” (v. 10; cf. Ps. 17:11). Nevertheless, the true believer can count on the Lord’s intervention and support (vv. 16-18). As Futato writes: “We may plead with the Lord in times of trouble. In spite of appearances, the Lord does see our trouble and grief. In his own time he will “arise” to help the helpless.”2 Indeed, as Van Gemeren observes with regard to the believer’s foe:

The wicked are “like a lion” …in their pursuit of the one godly person. Their beast, like nature, finds expression in the callous (v.10a), arrogance (v. 10b; cf. 5:9), pursuit to the death (v. 11a), and violence (v. 11b).3

In Psalm 22 David speaks of great difficulties he was facing:

Many bulls surrounded;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Roaring lions carrying their prey
open their mouths wide against me. (Ps. 22:12-13)

Although he tells of great difficulties he was facing (cf. 14-17), he counts on God’s help in delivering him. So it is that David declares:

I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts –
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And therefore call out to God:
Be exalted, O God,
let your glory be over all the earth. (Ps. 57:4-5)

Although the lions seek and find their food from the Lord, they do so in the course of a day’s activities.

In Psalm 22 we note that David asks the Lord for help, since he is suffering greatly. In so doing he cries to the Lord:

But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my strength. come quickly to help me.

Deliver my life from the sword
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Rescue me from the mouth of lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen. (vv. 19-21)

Here David turns to the Lord crying for his help and deliverance from danger, including lions.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, the listing of the animals in verses 19-21 reverses those in verses 12-13,16. Indeed, these form an interesting contrast with each other.

The psalmist at times speaks of lions and the need to deal with them. Thus, in Psalm 58 David asks the Lord to deal justly with unbelieving rulers testing them in accordance with their actions. In noting David’s words, one senses the propriety of the Lord’s dealing with rulers who deal harshly with believers. So it is that David pleads:

Break off their fangs, O God!
Smash the jaws of these lions, O Lord! (Ps. 58:6)

In Psalm 21 we note that the true believer is assured of a good and long-lasting life here on earth (Ps. 21:9-12). So great is the Lord’s protection and deliverance that the psalmist can add:

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength;
we will sing and praise your might. (v.13)

Accordingly, believers should live in full communion with their Lord and Savior

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his saints --
for those who fear him, lack nothing.

The lions may grow weak and hungry
but those seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Ps. 34:8-10)

Yes, indeed, those who place the Lord himself at the center of their lives may be assured that they “will lack no good thing.” (cf. Ps. 7:1-2, 10-11, 17).


1 All scripture citations are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms”, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed.  Philip W. Comfort (Grand Rapids:  Tyndale House, 2009), VII:60.

3 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms”, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, rev ed., eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:198.

Related Topics: Devotionals

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