The old lion perishes for lack of prey, and the strong lion's whelps are scattered abroad.
All Commentaries on Job 4:11 Go To Job 4
Gregory The Dialogist
43. By the title of a ‘tiger’ he again represents him, whom he formerly designated by the name of a ‘lion.’ For Satan both for his cruelty is called ‘a lion,’ and for the variousness of his manifold cunning he is not unsuitably designated ‘a tiger.’ For one while he presents himself to man's senses lost as he is, one while he exhibits himself as an Angel of light, Now by caressing he works upon the minds of the foolish sort, now by striking terror he forces them to commit sin. At one time he labours to win men to evil ways without disguise, at another time he cloaks himself in his promptings under the garb of virtue. This beast, then, which is so variously spotted, is rightly called ‘a tiger,’ being with the LXX called an ‘Ant-lion,’ as we have said above. Which same creature, as we have before shewn, hiding itself in the dust kills the ants carrying their corn, in that the Apostate Angel, being cast out of heaven upon the earth, in the very pathway of their practice besets the minds of the righteous, providing for themselves the provender of good works, and whilst he overcomes them by his snares, he as it were kills by surprise the ants carrying their grains. And he is rightly called ‘Ant-lion,’ i.e. ‘a lion and ant.’ For as we have said, to the ants he is ‘a lion,’ but to the birds of the air, ‘an ant,’ in that our old enemy, as he is strong to encounter those that yield to him, is weak against such as resist him. For if consent be yielded to his persuasions, like a lion he can never be sustained, but if resistance be offered, like an ant he is ground in the dust. Therefore to some he is ‘a lion,’ to others ‘an ant,’ in that carnal minds sustain his cruel assaults with difficulty, but spiritual minds trample upon his weakness with virtue's foot. Heretics then, because they are full of pride by pretension to sanctity, say as it were in exultation, The Ant-lion, or probably, the tiger perisheth for lack of prey. As though the words were plainly expressed, ‘The old foe has no prey in us, in that, as far as regards our purposes, he already lies defeated.’ Now it is for this reason that he is again mentioned under the title of ‘an Ant lion,’ or of ‘a tiger,’ who had been already set forth by the ‘roaring of the lion broken,’ because whatever is said in joy, is repeated over and over. For when the mind is full of exultation, it redoubles the expressions. And hence the Psalmist, from true joy, frequently repeats this, that he was assured that he had been heard, saying, the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplications. The Lord hath received my prayer. [Ps. 6, 8. 9.]
44. But when holy men are glad of heart that they have been rescued from some evil habits, they possess [Lit. ‘shake’] themselves with great fear even in that very gladness. For though they be now rescued from the commotion of any single storm, yet they call to mind that they are still tossing in the treacherous waves of an uncertain sea, and they so exult in hope that they tremble in fear, and so tremble in fear that they exult in confidence of hope. Whence it is said by the same Psalmist, Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. [Ps. 2, 11] But on the other hand, they, whom a specious shew of sanctity fills with big thoughts, when they get the better of any one evil habit, immediately erect their heart in pride, and as it were glory in the perfection of their lives, and for this, that perchance they have been once snatched from the perils of the storm, they already forget that they are still at sea, they look upon themselves as great in all things, and imagine that they have wholly overcome their old adversary; they regard all men below them, in that they believe that their wisdom places them above all. Whence it is added;
Now a secret word was spoken to me.
45. ‘A secret word,’ heretics pretend to hear, that they may bring a certain reverence for their preaching over their hearers' minds. And hence they preach with a secret meaning, that their preaching may seem to be holy, in proportion as it is at the same time hidden. Now they are loath to have a common sort of knowledge, lest they should be placed on a par with the rest of their fellow-creatures, and they are ever making out new things, which whilst others know nothing of, they plume their own selves on the preeminence of their knowledge before inexperienced minds. And this knowledge, as we have said, they teach is occult; for, that they may be able to shew it to be wonderful, they affirm that they obtained it by secret means. Hence with Solomon the woman, bearing the semblance of heretics, says, Stolen waters are [Vulg.] sweeter, and bread eaten in secret is more pleasant. [Prov. 9, 17] Whence in this place too it is added;
And mine ear as it were by stealth received the veins [Vulg.] of the whispering thereof.
They ‘receive the veins of whispers by stealth,’ in that abandoning the grace of knowledge in fellowship, they do not enter thereinto by the door, as the Lord witnesses, Who saith, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber; But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [John 10, 1. 2.] Therefore he ‘receives the veins of divine whispers by stealth,’ who, whilst the door of public preaching for receiving the knowledge of His excellency is forsaken, searches out the gaps and chinks of a froward understanding. But because the thief and robber, who enters by another way, both loves the darkness, and abhors the clearness of the light.