Our ancestor, King David, was not sentimental about lions. He was a shepherd in his youth, and had engaged in close combat with lions when they threatened his sheep. If a lion rose up against him, he grabbed hold of its mane and struck it until it was dead. (1 Samuel 17:34-36)
Later in life David spent years as a warrior. No doubt his experience with vicious lions caused him to describe his enemies as lions. In Psalm 57 he says, "My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts — the children of man whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords."
Yesterday as I drove home from church, my daughter called my cell phone and asked if I had heard about the massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I had not. I listened in horror as she told me what had happened. Like most of America, I can't stop thinking about it. Twenty-six people killed and more than twenty wounded by a 26 year old man with a gun - during a church service. The youngest killed was an 18 month old baby, the oldest a 77 year old. Among the dead are six year old children and a young woman who was eight months pregnant.
I don't know what to say. What can be said? Terror increases in frequency. When 9/11 happened, we had the audacity to hope it would be the last attack, but they just keep coming. They vary in method and scale, but they are horrifyingly persistent. Nobody thinks that yesterday was the last terror attack. Like David, we are becoming well acquainted with fiery beasts — the children of men. The beasts are among us, and safety - even in a church - is not guaranteed.
We can speculate about what causes human beings to commit these heinous acts - mental illness, an abusive childhood, drugs, post traumatic stress disorder - but the fact is that evil stalks our world. It always has. David was as weary of war as we are of terror. No wonder he cried out, "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!" Amen and amen. May Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!