In Sefer Tehillim Chapter 10, it says:
יֶאֱרֹב בַּמִּסְתָּר, כְּאַרְיֵה בְסֻכֹּה
יֶאֱרֹב, לַחֲטוֹף עָנִי; יַחְטֹף עָנִי, בְּמָשְׁכוֹ בְרִשְׁתּוֹ
He lies in wait, like a lion in his lair (literally “his sukkah”)
he lies in wait to snatch the poor one
He snatches the poor one by pulling him into his net
Tehillim Chapter 10:9
On the surface, this chapter of Tehillim seems to be referring to enemies of the human sort, but it can also refer to our biggest internal enemy, the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), whose raison d’etre is to cast its net, cause us to stumble, and ultimately pull us away from HaShem, His commandments, and the truth we know in our heart of hearts.
So strong is the Yetzer Hara’s influence that without Heavenly assistance we would be unable to overcome it:
R. Simeon bar Lakish stated, The Evil Inclination of a man
threatens every day to overpower him, and seeks to kill him,
as it is said, “The wicked watches the righteous and seeks to slay him;”
and were it not that the Holy One, blessed be He, is his help,
he would not be able to withstand it…
The “poor one” mentioned in the above possuk of tehillim refers to the person who is entirely caught up in the Yetzer Hara’s grasp and finds it nearly impossible to rid himself of its influence:
Raba observed, First he [the Evil Inclination] is called a passer-by,
then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man,
for it is said, “And there came a wayfarer to the rich man,
and he didn’t want to take of his own flock and of his own herd
to prepare for the guest that had come to him,
and [instead] he took the poor man’s lamb,
and prepared it for the man that had come to him.” (Shmuel 12:4)
The Gemara explains that Yetzer Hara takes on three personas as he seeks to lodge within an individual: a “Wayfarer,” an invited “Guest,” and finally a “Man.” First it appears as an innocent wayfarer, who has no particular hold on the person; then as a regular boarder who is tolerated by his host; and finally it makes itself at home, exerting full control over the person’s thoughts, desires, and actions.
But what is the symbolism of a “lion in his sukkah”?
A lion is a symbol of physical and spiritual strength. Not only is he the “King of the Jungle,” he is strong in character…
Lions are not solitary animals. They live together in small groups called a pride consisting of two to four males, several females, and their cubs. Though most male lions will seek to dominate other males, they will often join forces with one another in order hunt bigger game and better protect their territory. But for a male lion to share a pride with other males, he has to hold himself back from fighting with them and instead agree to work together.
It’s why Chazal urge us to be:
.גבור כארי לעשות רצון אביך שבשמים
[A]s strong as a lion to do the Will of Your Father in Heaven
Pirkei Avos 5:20
We should gather our strength be as strong as a lion… Why? Because that is precisely how the Yetzer Hara deals with each of us. Every day, the Yetzer Hara gathers all its strength and rises up to wage a new battle within a person. Even when he fails, he quickly and stealthily changes his approach, waiting for the right moment to resume his attack from another angle or position. He never tires, never gets discouraged, and is persistent come what may…
(We can actually learn a lot about how to succeed in this world be observing how the Yaetzer Hara approaches his “work”!)
But what is “his sukkah”?
This is a person’s heart. The evil inclination is the “strange god” that lives securely in our hearts “situated at the entrance” to prevent the entry of holiness, and only through persistent effort and ultimately, Heavenly mercy and assistance, can we unseat him. (Shabbos 105b; Brochos 61a, Strive for Truth Vol 3, p174).
As it states later in the perek:
תַּאֲוַת עֲנָוִים שָׁמַעְתָּ יְהוָה; תָּכִין לִבָּם, תַּקְשִׁיב אָזְנֶךָ
The desire of the humble, You heard, HaShem
Fix their hearts and listen with Your Ear
Tehillim Chapter 10:17
Instead of being “poor” – poor of mitzvahs and Torah and lacking a connection to HaShem as well as our personal tafkid in this world- we need to be “humble.” As we make space for HaShem in our lives, He will make space in our hearts, and that “strange god” will go back to his rightful place- on the outside.