The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…
The Bible, when it speaks as it does in these verses, always means something better than it says. Many things come to children much worse than being destroyed by a lion, or eaten by a wolf, or poisoned by a serpent's fang, only, I am sorry to believe, neither children nor grown up people think them worse things, nor anything like so dreadful. Perhaps that is the most doleful evil of all. Had I not faith in God's great wisdom, love, and justice, I should feel that for tens of millions of children in this world it would be infinitely better that they were never born; and that, being born, the next preferable event would be that they should die as soon after birth as possible, even though it were a hungry wolf that should slay them. They come into places more terrible than a wild beast's lair or a cockatrice's den. They come into places full of ignorance and iniquity, where they have no opportunity of growing up good, or even of knowing what good is. Now, this text says that in the good time coming all this shall be changed. The day is coming in our country when the child, because of his weakness and his wants, shall be the most cherished and cared for person either in the home, the Church, or the State.
I. From these words, then, we get the idea THAT AS THE WORLD GETS ON, AND MEN GROW WISER, TRUER, AND HOLIER, CHILDREN RISE IN THEIR REGARD. The care for children becomes exalted; it ceases to be a merely natural affection, and is intensified and purified into a moral and spiritual passion. The Bible teaches us that love of children is a note of moral culture, and all history shows that in the measure the claims of the little ones are lightly regarded the moral tone is low. There may be strength and courage for war, there may be art and philosophy, there may be an abundance of physical and intellectual display, but the higher morals — those that are the very graces of the soul, those which perfect men and go to the root of the world's sins and sorrows — are exceedingly scarce.
II. These words teach us THAT CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THAT WHICH IS HIGHEST AND MOST DIVINE — that they can share the best and highest with the best and highest men. The philosophy of the highest good may be far beyond the reach of their reason, but the blessing of it may be realised by them and enjoyed. The sunshine is as warm and delightful to them without any theory of light and heat as with one.
III. Another word we have to speak is, THAT THEY WHO ARE WORKING FOR THE CHILDREN ARE ON THE LINES OF THE WORLD'S PROGRESS. The world follows the children — they are always in front.
Parallel VersesKJV: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.