1 Samuel 17:36-37
Your servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them…
David's first battles were with a lion and a bear. His next with the Philistine Goliath, and after that with many enemies, with the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, the Edomites, and others. It seems to me that you have two enemies to contend with in your youth — violence and bearishness. Until you have conquered these you will not have proved your. selves worthy to go against greater foes.
1. Violence of temper is the lion with which you have to fight. Angry passions are the first passions that assail you. Anger is natural; and in itself is not wrong. But it is sinful when it masters you. When a lion is in a cage, and allowed no opportunity of tearing and killing, you do not fear him, but when he breaks out of the cage, then everyone takes to flight. Anger is not wrong when the cause is just, the feeling moderate, and the desire of punishment proportioned to the offence.
2. The other enemy you have to contend with is Bearishness. The greatest charm in a boy is politeness, or civility; and this is not so often met with as one could wish. Boys and girls are now allowed so much liberty, that they behave as if they owed no consideration, respect, or deference, to their elders and betters. It used to be said that bears never allowed their cubs to be seen out of the cave in which they were born until they had licked them into shape, for infant bear cubs were misformed hideous little beasts, but the mother by pains and constant licking got them into something like shape. I am afraid that too many little human bear cubs are allowed out before they are licked into shape. Now what is the cause of bearishness? of cubbishness? It is thought of self. The boy or girl whose mind is fixed on self is sure not to have thought of the wants and wishes of others, and to be without the respect due to others. In the upper classes of society it would be thought so disgraceful for ladies and gentlemen to turn out bear cubs into the world, that they are obliged to lick them into shape, and make them learn "manners." They put on manners as they put on their clothes. But it would be much better if the Bear were killed, instead of being hidden in a cupboard. It too often happens with those who have been taught to be polite and courteous, without being taught also to conquer the evil principle which lies at the root of cubbishness, that on occasions the bad beast breaks out, bursts through all restraints, and then we see that gentle manner was put on, and is not real. The bear is in the cupboard and hidden, but it is alive and impatient of restraint, and takes the first opportunity to show itself selfishness is the mother of bearishness. If the lion is feared the bear is loathed And the bearish child is a most offensive child, and grows up into a most offensive man or woman. Bearishness is exactly the reverse of what should be the character of a Christian. The Christian religion softens, and refines, it teaches all to be kindly to one another, to love as brethren, to be pitiful and courteous.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.