The wicked flee when no one pursues... - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
December 1, 2017

The wicked flee when no one pursues...

Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

by Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member, Former Geneva College President and longtime pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPNCA)

Really? The wicked flee, and righteous people are bold as lions? Many Psalms lament the success of the wicked. Bullies often rule school playgrounds. Bad guys win their share of wars. So how is this proverb true?

The Living God, Maker of heaven and earth, cut a covenant with Israel after He rescued them from slavery in Egypt. He would be their God, and they would be His People, obeying His Law, which contained blessings and curses to enforce it.

One of God’s curses was this: “I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you (Leviticus 26:17, 36).” When God’s People live wickedly, they lose courage and retreat even when no one is after them. Sinners who know better fear being found out and become paranoid and jumpy, fleeing from rumors and imagined dangers.

Why does the Christian Church in the West steadily retreat? It tolerates sin and has a bad conscience. Catholic bishops decline to discipline politicians who defy Catholic teaching on such basic things as murder (abortion) and marriage (same sex), while Protestant churches have given up disciplining members for unbiblical divorces.

The young David, in contrast, was “bold as a lion.” Goliath’s challenge of Israel and her God outraged him. He would fight the giant. So a teen-aged shepherd with his sling and a few stones ran at a huge, armed, and armored professional soldier. Who was the lion and who was the prey? David’s stone slung from a distance knocked Goliath out, and David’s bold follow-up using Goliath’s own sword to cut off his head made it clear: David, not Goliath, was the lion!

Jesus, the lion of the tribe of Judah, combines what seems false about this proverb with the deeper truth that it conveys. He fell before His enemies, crucified, but He did so boldly, never quailing before His enemies. In fact, He unsettled Roman Governor Pilate (John 19:11-12), and the centurion in charge of the crucifixion said at last, “Truly, this man was the son of God (Mark 15:39).” On the third day after His death, God gave Jesus victory, raising Him from the dead and making Him King over all nations. When His Body in the world, the Church, follows in His footsteps, it is triumphant even in martyrdom, like the Egyptian Coptic Christian beheaded on the seashore in Libya in 2015, who gave his Arabic Bible to his executioner and cried “Jesus, help me,” as he died victorious.