Four Comely Things
Stephen Whitmore, Clacton-on-Sea
In Proverbs 30. 29-31, we read of four things which are 'comely in going'. These remind us of the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are:
1. The Lion.
2. The Greyhound, or Horse.
3. The He-goat.
4. The Unchallenged King.
1. The Lion
The lion is frequently considered to be the King of beasts, and as such we see the dignity that marks it. There are many attributes of the lion which could be considered in looking at that which is comely in going. Two specifically are listed here, and serve as reminders of the unique character of Christ
The first characteristic is that it is strongest among beasts. The idea of strength has the thought more of ability to overcome than of simple power. There may be other animals which might be thought of as having more might than the lion, but they have weaknesses as well which mean that they will not prevail against the lion. As we think of this, we are surely reminded of the cry of Revelation 5. 2, and the response that the Lion of the tribe of Judah had prevailed. There is none who can overcome like Him, He stands supreme. The cross is the seal of His triumph, it is the basis from which His authority is derived, as it was the time when every enemy force that creation could find joined to overthrow Him, and only proved the truth of such a description as we have here, that He is the strongest. How we rejoice to know that such is the strength of our Lord that not only can He overcome all enemies as the lion, but He can overcome all when they are arrayed in unison against Him, something even the lion could not do.
The second characteristic is that the lion does not 'turn away for any'. Here we see a dignity that marks the lion. He refuses to admit the possibility of defeat. Once more, we see this reflected in our Lord, who is seen as moving with a determined step, knowing perfectly what lay before Him, and never for a moment admitting the possibility that He might turn back. The difference is that, while there may be times when the lion is at a disadvantage, and goes forward in folly to his death, our Lord went on, even to death, knowing that this was not defeat, but the pathway to triumph.
2. The Greyhound
The expression, translated greyhound, has the meaning, 'girl in the loins'. It may well be that the idea is of an animal such as the greyhound that is swift in movement. The expression 'girl in the loins', is perhaps even more suggestive than the greyhound of the character of the Servant who is instant in obedience. As we read in Mark, we find that the expressions 'immediately', 'straightway', and 'anon' occur some forty times throughout the book out of eighty references in the whole New Testament, reminding us that our Lord was always marked by a readiness to do what was requested of Him as soon as He was asked. How good to see the One who had absolute authority as Sovereign Lord, for whom and by whom all things were created, moving as a Servant who claimed no rights of His own. His words as He came into the world are recorded as, 'Lo, I come . . . to do thy will, O God', Heb. 10. 7. How our hearts rejoice to contemplate Him as He moved through this scene, hastening to do the will of God, never questioning the path that He was called to tread. Though Son, He learned obedience in suffering, Heb, 5. B. How thankful we are to know that the One who is seen moving through the world in obedience to the will of God, and who today calls us to obey His voice, is the One who knows the full cost of obedience in a way that He will never ask any other to prove.
As we think of the movements of our Lord, we do well to remind our hearts that, even if He was marked by an immediate response to a request, He was never marked by an undue haste in any circumstance. Let us take care to distinguish between these two characteristics. While instant obedience is what our Lord desires, undue haste frequently leads to error and is something which would never be true of our Lord.
3. The He-goat
Here is an animal that is marked by its sure footedness. This is another characteristic of our Lord, as He moved with a steady step that never faltered. We may look at others, and however good the example they leave, we can always find evidence of failure in their lives, but as we look at our Lord, we see no failure. It is interesting to consider the way in which His upbringing would answer those who try to teach that the environment is the reason for sin. We see many examples of those with every advantage who still sin in a marked fashion, but as we look at our Lord, we see One who had no material advantage, yet never sinned. Nathanael comments on the reputation of Nazareth as Philip speaks of the Lord. His words are simply, 'Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?', John 1. 46. The thought is echoed by many throughout the life of the Lord, yet He was still able to stand without a finger pointed at Him in accusation, challenging men, 'which of you convinceth me of sin?', John 8. 46; obtaining from Pilate the testimony that neither he nor Herod could find any fault in Him, Luke 23. 14, 15; obtaining the witness of the one crucified with Him, 'this man hath done nothing amiss', Luke 23. 41, and finally the testimony of the centurion that He was a righteous man, Luke 23. 47. Men, whether looking with enmity or indifference, could not ignore the perfect character of our Lord as they looked on One who was so different in His walk from every other man. It is evident that the basic cause of the hatred of the rulers was that His life stood as a light in the darkness of the sin which marked the nation, and condemned them, John 3. 19.
If the he-goat is a picture of a perfect walk, then there is also the picture of the sin offering. The he-goat was the offering for the ruler in Leviticus 4. 23, and also was the offering brought on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16. 5. It is interesting to see the way in which the word of God records the perfection of the walk of our Lord alongside references to His offering. Peter speaks of His actions, 'who did no sin', 1 Pet. 2. 22, and follows with the reminder, 'who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree', v. 24. Paul speaks of His thoughts when He records, God 'hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin', 2 Cor. 5. 21. John sees into His innermost being to record, 'He was manifested to bear away our sins, and in him is no sin', 1 John 3. 5. It is interesting to note that each reference has a clear allusion to the sin-offering, as opposed to other offerings.
4. The Unchallenged King
This is the aspect of our Lord's character that should surely thrill our souls. Paul speaks of the 'crown of rejoicing' which is laid up for 'all them that love his appearing', 2 Tim. 4. 8. While the lion may have reminded us of the kingly dignity that marked our Lord, it was seen in the face of opposition, overcoming and not turning away. Here we see the ultimate revelation of our Lord, when His enemies become the footstool of His feet, Heb. 1. 13, when every knee bows and every tongue confesses Him as Lord, Phil. 2. 9-11. While our hearts rejoice in the assurance of His love, and the anticipation that we shall meet Him in the air and be forever with Himself, 1 Thes. 4. 15-18, we ought to be looking with equal if not greater anticipation to that glorious day when He is owned by all creation. The former day is when we receive from Him the fulness of all that His love has brought to us, the latter day is the time when He will receive the position and honour that He deserves from every part of creation.
How thankful we ought to be that the same power that will be openly displayed to all creation in that day, can be enjoyed by us even now. He is no less powerful today than He will be then, and He is still Sovereign in all respects. It may be that He gives men the freedom to follow their own course, thus giving opportunity to repent, yet also, in view of man's rejection of the grace of God, opening the way for the greater display of His glory as man lifts himself up to the full extent, simply to be brought down in a moment. Revelation 19. 15 speaks of a sharp sword going out of His mouth, while Isaiah 29. 5-8 speaks of the end of the armies that encamp against the city as being like dust, small chaff blown away, in an instant, just like awaking from a dream to find nothing. Here we see the supreme power of our Lord as His might is far greater than anything that can ever be raised against Him.