Live Dogs & Dead Lions
Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! (Ecclesiastes 9:4).
Sometimes being wise is as simple as accepting basic facts. Sometimes we forget that.
Solomon is labeled by God as a person surpassing in wisdom. Yet when we read his words of wisdom recorded in books such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, we come to the conclusion that much of what he shares with us is only common sense.
Next to the free gift of eternal life in glory, one of the most overlooked gifts of God to the human race is the ability to use our reasoning powers.
How is it that our brain can process the data that two plus two equals four? How is it that we can assemble a set number of shapes on paper to communicate with others? The ability to use math and language are amazing skills. The ability to figure things out, the ability to come to conclusions and anticipate results, are gifts we use every day—gifts we could not survive without.
“Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.” We might wonder why those words are even included in a book that brings God’s words to humans. What do dogs and lions have to do with sin and salvation?
They illustrate to us the truth of God: “Anyone who is among the living has hope.”
That’s important for us to remember when people seem hopeless, or when life seems hopeless. It’s just common sense. Our phrase is: “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Many times our reason challenges the Word of God. It tells us that a six-day creation, a triune God, and walking on water are impossibilities. There reason is wrong, because reason is limited. Our mind cannot grasp the totality of God’s works and ways.
But reason can point us to what is true. When the psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” he invites us to draw the conclusion that if his creation is so glorious, the Creator must be glorious. It only makes sense!
When God says, “Come, let us reason together…though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah1:18) he is inviting us to use our minds to see the picture of how definite and dramatic is his forgiveness.
Simply to read the Bible requires us to use our ability to reason. To understand the Bible demands that we have the ability to draw conclusions. But to believe the Bible requires the power of the Holy Spirit. Reason, alone, cannot do that.
God’s message to us contains some deep thoughts. We may spend a lifetime pondering them without probing their depths. But his words are also clear. Our problem often is not with understanding his words, but with accepting them.
There is, indeed, hope for those who still live. Live dogs and dead lions teach us that.
Lord of grace and glory, you have given us the ability to use our heads to discern your power and majesty in what appears before us. We bow before you in wonder. We have seen enough to know that you are there in the heavens, and you show yourself to your creation. But chiefly we bow in faith. Our eyes have read your words, and our ears have heard them. They have penetrated our hearts and touched our souls. Thank you for the gift of common sense. Enable us to use it to learn more about you and the life you have given us through your Son. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military