3 Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning.
The Story: Civil magistrates are supposed to protect and promote the interests of the people through the rule of law. Judges are supposed to establish justice and equity. Freedom, justice, and prosperity flourish when civic officials are guided by God’s Law. If there was any city where all of this should have been on display in Zephaniah’s day, it was Jerusalem – the holy city. But just as the populace at large had despised their spiritual privileges, so civil leaders had abused their political prerogatives. Those who were called to be “foster fathers” and “nursing mothers” (Isaiah 49:23) were acting like “roaring lions.” Those who were called to “judge the people with righteous judgment” (Deuteronomy 16:18) were acting like “evening wolves that leave nothing till morning.” There is nothing new about a political class more interested in self-aggrandizement than in serving citizens. Whenever this happens in history, it isn’t a pretty picture. This word of the Lord through Zephaniah reminds us that God cares about the political affairs of nations. When rulers abandon the precepts and principles of God’s Law, they are inviting divine judgment.
The Structure: Metaphors can be powerful instruments in the communication of truth, as we see in this passage. Describing ruling officials as “roaring lions” employs Solomonic imagery: “Like a roaring lion … is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (Proverbs 28:15). When judges are described as “evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning,” the image is of wolves so ravenous that after they gnaw on their prey all night, not a bone is left in the morning. Injustice and abuse of power have rarely been portrayed more colorfully or more powerfully.
Read Romans 13:1-4. What are godly civil rulers supposed to be pursuing in place self-aggrandizement? Pray for the blessing of such leaders in our own nation.
For more insight to the prophet Micah, order the book, The Minor Prophets, Vol. 2: Micah-Malachi, by James Montgomery Boice, from our online store.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.