The Peaceable Kingdom
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The scene described in this passage was painted many times by American folk painter Edward Hicks (1780–1849) as the “Peaceable Kingdom.” He was a Quaker who is better known for these paintings. The animals portrayed in both are similar. The scenes represent the pacifism of the Quaker society that all men and beast will live in peace. An image of this painting can be seen at
The whole passage of Isaiah 11:1-9 is an outline of the personal characteristic of the coming messianic king. Verses 6-9 give a poetic description of the complete harmony and peace of the coming messianic age. Humans and animals would live together in a paradise-like relationship (see The Broadman Bible Commentary, vol. 5, Isaiah 11:1-9, pp 231-332). This is a parallel to the Garden of Eden before sin caused disharmony.
Peace in Hebrew is “shalom.” The root meaning is “well-being.” There are other meanings in the Old Testament. It can signify bodily health, a nation enjoying prosperity, and stability in a relationship (see Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. II, p 402). Shalom is being in harmony with God and all of God's creation.
Gracious Lord, calm our human nature, so your Spirit may allow us to live in peace with all of your creation. Amen.