The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Why do the wicked flee when no one pursues them? Their guilt keeps them from all peace. They are constantly on the run because they know that others have reason to pursue them. Or at least their own conscience does. Even when they are otherwise secure, they are anxious and fearful. Such is the life of sin and rebellion against God.
Consider a simple physical example of this principle. If I am driving above the speed limit, the sight of a police officer becomes a terror rather than a cause for thankfulness in a well-ordered society. My own sin makes the law into my enemy. So it is with all disobedience.
The righteous, however, are bold as a lion. What do they have to fear? They have not violated the law, so the law poses no threat to them. They are bold with the peace of their character. We see this even in judgment. A hypocrite has no right to judge, but one who has already removed the log within his own eye is granted the boldness and the justification to highlight the speck in his brother’s eye.
The only problem, of course, is that none are righteous, not even one. We all have reason to flee because our sin makes the almighty Creator into our enemy. Yet Christ has come to clothe His people with His own righteousness as a breastplate. Our boldness, therefore, is not in our own claim upon righteousness but in our claim of humble amazement that God’s only Son “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This is the perfect love which “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).