Lion and the Lamb is the 10th most sung praise song in the US and 11th in the UK according to CCLI. For half the chorus, God is praised as "the Lion of Judah" and the other half as "the Lamb that was slain."

But is this good theology?

Lions appear 118 times in the Bible. Ignoring actual lions, looks-like-a-lion comments, peaceful lion visions, and miscellaneous mentions, we are left with 55 references where someone acts like a lion: empires (14), kings, religious rulers, or other leaders (12), God (12), the wicked (9), and the tribes of Israel (7). And once, Peter even tells us "the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for prey."

In nearly all of these 55 references, the context contains devouring, hunting, or tearing apart. For example, in Hosea 5:14, God says he will be "like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away."

Bible authors predominantly use lions not to show strength like we might imagine but to portray sheer destructive presence.

Is praising God as the Lion of Judah, therefore, praising a militaristic god of destruction?

What do you think?

Read Part 2.

NonviolenceSteve Hall