“The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.”
In biblical times, virtually every nation had a king, and the king was all-powerful. In matriarchal societies the monarch was a queen. Solomon uses the analogy of an angry lion to illustrate “the terror of a king.” The roar of an angry lion can be heard a long way across the savanna, and one is well-advised to stay out of its path. If you are foolish enough to provoke a lion, you are putting your very life at risk.
And so it is with the anger of a king (or queen). Don’t provoke the sovereign ruler of the land. If you do so, you put your life at risk.
It’s a good analogy, to be sure, but do you see the bigger picture here? Jesus is the great Lion of Judah (see Revelation 5:5). He is the King of Kings. It is foolishness of the highest order to dismiss and reject him, and to do so is to put your very soul at risk.
C.S. Lewis’ celebrated children’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, tells of the adventures of four children in the magical kingdom of Narnia. The story is great fun, and it revolves around the character of Aslan, the figure of Christ represented as a Magnificent Lion.
When in Narnia, the children meet Mr and Mrs Beaver, who describe Aslan the mighty lion to them.
“Is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is King of the wood and the son of the great emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great lion.”
“ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
This is why Proverbs repeatedly says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus is the great Lion of Judah. He isn’t safe, but he is good. He’s the king, I tell you.