(Proverbs 20:2 KJV) The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.
If I had to paraphrase this I might say, “Count the cost before you open your mouth.” As Americans we are used to speaking out minds. We spout off about the freedom of speech and it really is a glorious freedom. The lion doesn’t care. The lion is anyone who has power over you whether it is legitimate or not. We need a healthy “fear” (terror NASB) (367). As I write, I look forward to going through airport security and all of the current frenzy about groping TSA employees. Often the hype is much worse than the reality. My point in bringing it up is that I will be in a situation where I am being searched without a warrant, due process, probable cause or anything else that the Constitution talks about. But I will be looking the lion in the mouth. I can open mine but I don’t growl very loud. There is a time for fear, even if it is only healthy concern. At that point TSA is the king. It reminds me of traveling into East Berlin before the wall came down. You could argue with the Communist East German guards, but not if you wanted to cross the border.
The best translation here is “growling” (5099), not “roar” as the KJV has it. This word is sometimes translated “roar” but another word (7580-1) actually means roar. Most of us will never meet a king or president. In fact we rarely meet the mayor of our hometown. So let’s step back a little. When does a lion growl? I really don’t know but I don’t think it is when the hunt is on and you are being stalked. I think the growl is a warning. My dog would give an imitation growl if I got too close to the food bowl. It was saying, “Keep your distance or I will make your hand my next course.”
This rule certainly applies to those in power. I think it is also a principle that applies to people who are not kings. Listen for the growls. I love to debate. Some would call it arguing. I am aware that some people don’t like me to broaden their understanding of the world. I listen for growls. Sometimes it is a set of the mouth. Sometimes it is a glazed look in the eyes. Sometimes it is the steam coming out the ears. I change the subject.
This is part of the love chapter. Think about some of the qualities in I Corinthians 13, especially this verse:
(1 Corinthians 13:5 KJV) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
So judge carefully if it is the time to speak your mind or stand up for your rights. Sometimes that is the right approach but often it is just our pride or ego speaking. Stop, think, pray, listen and choose a course of action that will bring glory to Jesus.