It was two years ago this month that Katherine Chappell, an American tourist, was attacked and killed by a lion as she toured Lion Park in South Africa’s Gauteng province.
It was a sad and tragic story of a woman who was described as “brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited.” “She was very much-loved and shared her love for life with those she met,” her family said.
What makes this young woman’s death even more heartbreaking is the manner in which the attack occurred. Witnesses described what happened.
Chappell was taking photographs of a pride when she rolled down the passenger window in order to get a better shot. Obviously, she didn’t realize that one of the lions was approaching the vehicle from the side.
Passengers in other vehicles began honking their horns, trying to get the attention of Chappell and tour guide Pierre Potgieter, who was driving her through the park.
According to a witness reported by CNN, “The lion stopped about a meter from the vehicle as Chappell continued taking pictures. The animal then lunged at the car, biting the woman through the open window.
Katherine Chappell’s injuries were fatal and she died on the scene.
According to reports, a notice warning guests to keep their windows closed was found on the passenger side of the vehicle. In addition, there are numerous signs throughout the park warning visitors to keep their windows closed.
The unfortunate death of Katie Chappell reminds me of one of the great warnings of the Bible, 1 Peter 5:8.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (ESV)
There are three important lessons to learn from the passage.
(1) The reality of the devil.
In a culture that denies the existence of God, the teaching about the devil is likewise scorned and mocked. But the Bible never jokes about the devil. God speaks of his existence in the Old Testament book of Job. And Jesus encountered direct opposition by Satan as he was tempted prior to beginning his ministry.
(2) The danger posed by the devil.
The word “devil” means “accuser or slanderer.” John calls him “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). The devil made false accusations against God’s righteous servant, Job. And he seeks to incriminate us when we live godly and teach God’s righteousness.
This passage reminds us that the devil can attack us. He’s pictured as a hungry lion on the prowl. Seeking his prey. Desiring to devour. Crouched ready to pounce. All he needs is a small window of opportunity and before we can react, we are in his clutches.
(3) The need for awareness.
Peter uses two words to warn and call us to attention. The reality of satan should elicit sobriety. This word means “to be of sound mind, self-controlled.” It literally means “to be free from the influence of intoxicants.”
When we are intoxicated by drugs, alcohol or other artificial stimuli we are easy prey for the devil’s advances. We may also be intoxicated by pride, possessions, power or popularity. Such feelings of pleasure cloud our judgment, dull our spiritual senses and leave us vulnerable to attack.
The second word is “watchful.” It means “to keep awake. To give strict attention to. Be cautious” It speaks to a need to be spiritually attentive. It is translated in various passages as “alert.” “Vigilant.” “On guard.” “Awake.”
We must be awake to the devious devices of the devil to entice and devour us. Unwholesome entertainment. Lurid literature. Internet pornography. Trashy TV shows. Raunchy music. Plus the celebration and approval of immoral perverted lifestyles.
Make no mistake. The devil is real. He’s on the prowl. He desires you. Keep your windows rolled up!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman