Archive for December 2007

The Rooster, the Goat, and the Lion

December 27, 2007

Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride. The lion which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand to your mouth. (Prov 30.32)

These are the words of “Agur, the son of Jakeh,” of whom we know next to nothing. Some think he was an Ishmaelite because of his name. But no one knows. We only know that he believed in the one true God of Israel, and that he had a passion for truth in everyday life-what we might nowadays call “integrity.” It runs like a golden thread through his mini-sermon on wisdom (Proverbs 30). He chides the scholars who fill their heads with philosophy, but miss the plain truth of God’s Word (vv 1-6). He prays for integrity in his own life (vv 7-9), exposes falsehood in all its forms (vv 10-14), and gives numerous examples of integrity, both good and bad (15-31).

His last example is one of the familiar numerical proverbs: “Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride.” It is a curious assortment that follows, and as always, the fourth “thing” is the thing: “The lion which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him” (Prov 30.29-31). The animals we all know. The lion has a walk that matches his heart-he is the “King of Beasts.” The “rooster?” Well, for all the kingly gyrations of his gait, he is still . . . well . . . a chicken. The he-goat is a brawler. Belligerent, aggressive, destructive, he makes trouble where none existed before. To paraphrase Will Rogers, he never met a man he wouldn’t fight.

But what about the king? Agur’s brief description leaves us with many questions. Is this king marching for a just cause or unjust gain? Does his army serve the good of the kingdom or merely prop up the power of the state? Is he really a king, or merely a thug with a crown. Is he stately in his heart, or only in his strut? Is he majestic, or merely pompous? Is he Kim Jong-il, or George Washington? Is he a lion of a leader?

Or is he a rooster? Or a goat?

‘Tis the season for resolutions. Or maybe we should say it’s the season to talk about how we make resolutions and then fail to keep them. Or maybe we should say it’s the season just to talk about making resolutions, the way three-year olds talk about who they plan to marry. No matter-in this season of resolutions, let me pose a question. Is your “walk,” your lifestyle, more like a rooster, a goat, or a lion? “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself,” Solomon says, “or if you have been devising evil, put your hand to your mouth.” The rooster “exalts himself” and runs away in fear. The goat “devises evil” and rushes in to fight. The lion neither “fights” nor “fears.” And more than that, what he is on the outside, he is on the inside. He walks like a king because he has the heart of a king.

This might be the perfect time to recall that our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5.5). God grant in this new year that we may be like Him. You are loved.

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