but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
You might be wondering about the title for this post . . . be patient, and we'll get there! Some commentaries treat this verse as an example of how people feel when they have a guilty conscience -- they get paranoid, and think that they see a pursuer behind every lamppost, and that the whole world is after them. While that is true, and we see it happen often, I was reminded of something different when I read this.
Way back in Leviticus (chapter 26, if you'd like to turn there), God told the Hebrew people that there were consequences to their actions and attitudes. He laid out rewards, and he noted punishments.
If they rejected Him as their creator and provider, and despised His judgements, standards, and leadership, then they could expect some pretty dire consequences. If, on the other hand, they obedient to Him, and followed Him in righteousness, He would pour out His blessings. Let me show you what I mean:
‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Why in the world would they go against an almighty God who promised them so much?
“‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
“‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
But we all know the story -- they had their ups and their downs. And when they rejected Him, then verses 14-39 of that chapter came into play . . . that's a long passage, so I hope that you will look at it in your Bible, instead of my posting it here. There's a long list of "baddies" there, from disease, to fearfulness, to famine, to wild animals, to enemy armies.
One of the consequences noted is that they will be so fearful that the sound of a shaking leaf will cause them to shake and quake and run away.
There are numerous examples of the enemies of the Hebrew children running away, even when they had an advantage on them --- can you tell me in a comment one of those examples?
We'll finish up this study tomorrow, in Part II.