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An Odd Christmas Verse

Here’s a MERRY CHRISTMAS! verse for you: Three things are stately in their stride, four are stately in their walk: the lion, mighty among beasts, that does not retreat before any, a strutting rooster, a he-goat—and a king whose people are with him. Proverbs 30:29-31 [1]

Ancient Carving at Lion's Gate, Jerusalem

Ancient Carving at Lion's Gate,


Are you scratching your head, wondering how this odd proverb speaks of our Savior’s birth? It does! To begin with, consider the place of the book of Proverbs in redemptive history: this is the kingly wisdom of Solomon [2] from Israel’s Golden Age, and his keen observations demand reflection.

The King Reigns. The sage describes four creatures that stride with regal dignity as lords over their particular spheres. They walk with straightforward confidence because of their position. All are bold, even brazen. The lion towers above them all, known even then as “king of the beasts.” It’s not surprising that this top predator, fearsome and fearless, becomes a symbol for the Lord and his people as they defeat their worst enemies. Centuries later, an angel encouraged the apostle John in his vision of the end times: Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…. Revelation 5:5 (ESV)

Yet kings do more than merely conquer. The King Represents. The author of our proverb understood kingship well. Look carefully at his fourth “creature”—the human king—and notice one crucial feature that sets him apart from the other three: he is not alone. He is a king whose people are with him. [3] By definition, a king is one who rules over a kingdom. No people, no king. He leads the people, he defends the people, he represents the people.

Stop here and meditate on this. Christians, saved by grace, are accustomed to viewing their relationship with Christ from their own perspective—what we gain from it. As our champion, Jesus lived that holy life we could not live; as our substitute, he suffered the death that we deserved. But what about the Lord’s perspective? What does he gain? The answer is nearly inconceivable: He gains us as his people. Remember, he’s a King with a kingdom, and we are the people of that kingdom. God’s choice to delight in his people is the unimaginable logic behind the Incarnation. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” Hebrews 2:10-12 (NIV) We’ve become royal siblings of our elder brother, Jesus. Because he has become like us, he can represent us, and because he represents us, he can rescue us.

Adoration of the Christ Child

Gerard van Honthorst, 1620

The King Rescues. Adam was king, but his rebellion dragged the entire human race down with him. Yet the Lord promised to send another King, a second Adam, a descendant who would crush the serpent’s head and rescue those who are united to him by faith. The prophet Isaiah beheld that great Messianic King: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV). He will be “mighty” like a lion, but infinitely more; he is “Mighty God.” May we never lose our awe at hearing four majestic divine titles so effortlessly granted to an infant!

May you know this Divine-Human King, the king whose people are with him. With him at your head, you will stride with confidence no matter what you face now or in the future.

Many blessings to you this holiday season and in the new year.

From Andrew & Dawna Selle

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