Bible Reading: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” (Psalm 91:13)
The peril presented in the previous verse; namely, “a stone,” poses no real danger to the careful, but only to the careless. It can only trip us; and only trip us when we’re not watching where we’re going. The perils presented in this verse are far greater threats. They are not inanimate objects posing a threat to the careless alone. Instead, they are living things that imperil us on their own initiative and are motivated to do so because of their own maliciousness.
The “lion” threatens out loud with his intimidating roar. He wants his prey to know that he is on the prowl. By scaring the prey he stalks, he robs it of calmness of mind as he closes in for the kill. After all, it’s much easier to pounce on a panicked prey. The “adder” or serpent on the other hand, subtly lurks in silence waiting for the opportune moment to strike. He seeks an unperceived presence until the time comes to swiftly strike his unperceptive prey. The prey’s initial awareness of the serpent’s presence is the sensation of poisonous fangs penetrating its flesh.
As fearful a foe as a roaring lion and a striking serpent pose, their spiritual counterpart—the devil (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:9; 20:2)—is far more frightening. Yet, the Psalmist assures us that we need not fear this spiritual nemesis, since we can confidently “tread” and “trample” him “under [our] feet” while walking in communion with God.
To “tread” and “trample” him under our feet suggest much more than simply escaping from the ranks of Satan’s innumerable victims. It also suggest living victoriously over him; that is, living a life totally unintimidated by his roaring threats and totally undaunted by his hissing at our heels.
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD (Martin Luther)
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.