“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1
The wicked are so desperately hardened that they have no fear of the most horrible dangers — at least they have not such an apprehension of them, as to flee to that sure and only refuge which Divine grace has presided. At the same time they are so wretched that that they are never in security, and are liable to the most distressing terrors, when there is no reason for them.
The Syrians that besieged Samaria heard the noise of chariots and horsemen, which threw them into such a panic that they fled away, and left their bread and clothes behind them. Similarly, the wicked are liable to terrors which sometimes encompass them like waters, when no reason can be given for them. For the objects which ought to alarm transgressors, and have a tremendous reality in them, are not the things that take hold of their minds. They are like madmen who fear not a drawn sword — but tremble at the shaking of a leaf, as if it were a devil ready to hurry them away to the bottomless pit.
No passion is more tormenting than fear, and a sense of guilt producing it. It was a punishment threatened against the people of Israel, if they revolted from God, that they should flee before their pursuing enemies — but it is a sign of the utmost wretchedness, when men flee away through terror when there are no enemies — but such as are conjured up by a timorous imagination.
Sinners have great reason after all to fear, even when the objects of their fear are mere fantasies. God is angry with them every day, and their anxious alarms are a part of the punishment of their sins. They cannot expect tranquility and happiness of mind, but in Christ, by whom we are delivered from the guilt of sin, and enjoy that peace which passes all understanding.
Believers are as bold as a lion, the most courageous of creatures upon earth. For they are delivered from all danger of condemnation, and they are at peace with God. They may have many enemies — but God is their friend, and no weapon formed against them shall prosper. They may meet with adversities and deaths — but they shall meet with nothing to separate them from the love of God.
The righteous are sometimes timorous like doves — but they have reason to be bold as lions. They are partakers of those graces which have a native tendency to expel tormenting fears, and to produce quietness and assurance forever. Their natural constitution, their remaining corruptions, their unhappy falls, their numerous enemies — may counteract their principles of holy courage — but they are commanded to be always strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The day is coming when every fear shall vanish away, and be followed by eternal triumphs.