Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. ~2 Timothy 4:17
Would you put your head in the mouth of a lion? Lion experts say that a lion’s mouth is 28 centimeters fully extended or almost one foot in measurement. That is big! Paul uses the term “the mouth of the lion” to describe the trial or affliction he was in while he awaited his execution for the preaching of the gospel.
We see the menacing adversary.
Paul made it very clear that the plight he was in was one of many attacks by the devil against him. The devil is pictured as a roaring lion that walks about seeking whom he may devour. Lions look for the weak, the wounded, and the wandering prey. So, the lion begins his stalking by announcing his presence with a ferocious roar. As a predator, the devil never lets up. He is always stalking and studying his prey. Given the right opportunity, his desire is to sink his powerful bite into the throat of a victim he can best take advantage of.
We see the malicious adversity.
Paul’s adversity was having been forsaken by all his friends. First, he said, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Second, he said Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil. Third, and worst, he sadly announced that “no man stood with me.” Being forsaken and abandoned by people you would expect to stand with you is extremely discouraging. It is a lonely feeling to languish in an underground prison awaiting your execution, and not one close friend wanted to identify with Paul during his adversity. Paul experienced the feeling of not being loved and cared for. People wrote Paul off, and went on with life as if he were already dead.
We see the merciful advantage.
In the midst of all this, Paul found encouragement from a reliable source. He had been down in this pit of adversity before, and he experienced once again who he knew would faithfully be by his side. “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Paul exclaimed that “the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” He experienced the merciful advantage of God’s presence in his darkness, discouragement, and deprivation. The Lord stood with him! When you feel like you have been abandoned, remember that the Lord stands by you as well! The jury might be out with those closest to you with regards to your trial, but never with God! Then, the Lord strengthens. This strengthening is multifaceted. I believe Paul’s resolve was strengthened. I believe Paul’s faith in God and man was strengthened. I believe Paul’s praying went up several notches in terms of his closeness with God and answers to prayer. Don’t look at your circumstance as your defeat, but rather as a means for God to deliver.
The mouth of the lion would be shut by God! The lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ our Lord, is a bigger and all-conquering lion. Don’t let the size of the mouth, the loud roar, and the strength of the enemy intimidate you. Let God arise and your enemies be scattered!
Have a victorious God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Acts 16-17