“For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.”
The psalmist begins this song by calling to remembrance the work which the Lord did for Israel in the days of old: “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.” We may look back in remembrance to any time in our lives and find dotted all along our journey times and places when and where the hand of God has been made manifest in leading us in the right way. If we notice the record of the footsteps of the children of Israel in their travel through the wilderness, we will see that their travel was straightforward and in uprightness as long as their walk was in obedience, but when they rebelled and disobeyed they walked very crooked indeed. In view of this fact regarding ourselves, and also the church in the literal wilderness, we are called upon to remember always that it is the Lord that worketh in us and setteth our feet in the way of life everlasting. The truth is presented to them in the third verse, that: “They got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them.” These are wondrous declarations of promises fulfilled, and sweet evidences that the sure promises written in our hearts will also be all fulfilled.
In the days of old the bow and the sword were trusty weapons of warfare; the nations round about Israel put their trust in the bow and the sword to conquer and to put to flight their enemies. They did not know the power of God, who by his word could put thousands to flight before three hundred, and they without a bow or a sword. They had no knowledge of the God who could cause the stripling David, without armor, to slay the mighty giant of the Philistines. Even Israel in her ignorance and natural mindedness made gods of gold and silver and other things of earth, and said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” But at this time in their history they were brought very low, and were made to see the hand of the Lord in their deliverance from their afflictions and all their host of enemies. They were brought to see that which was afterward experienced and recorded by the apostle when he said, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” This is the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, the fight of faith, in which the bow is laid aside and the sword sheathed. We trust in the victorious triumph of the Captain of our salvation, who is mighty in word and in deed to overcome all the combined powers of darkness. No man can be a good soldier if he trusteth not implicitly in his leader. If we would be followers of Christ and good soldiers of the cross, we must deny self, take up our cross and follow him, in which condition the following would be in true obedience. The Lord prepares his chosen soldiers for the hardships through which they must necessarily pass; he feeds them upon the healthy diet of his precious truth, and gives them exercises of heart and soul, which cause them to endure hardness. The Lord worketh in us by the spirit of his grace, by which we are made meet for his service. “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” The apostle therefore admonishes, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” and presents this excellent trait in all good soldiers, that “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Now if you cannot any more trust in your bow, and you have received knowledge that your once trusty sword shall not save you, what manner of weapons will you use? You once thought you had a strong right arm, and you trusted in your good judgment that after a few more days of pleasure and sensual enjoyment you would by that same strength and judgment become a good man and righteous, but these vain boastings have been swept away as the bright shining of the sun dispels the morning dew. The good soldier tries his weapon before he goes to the battle; he first measures his own strength and then the strength and power of his weapon, what it will accomplish in his hand. These measurements and trials of our faith for the spiritual warfare have been made by the Spirit which worketh mightily in us. Our strength and dependence come from what has been wrought in us, and not the outward man. Therefore our whole armor is prepared for us, and the weapons of our choice are those which have been chosen for us of the Lord, and so the apostle gives us testimony and instruction: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Now are you fully equipped with all power and strength from on high. You shall overcome, and put all things under your feet, because all things are put under the feet of Him who is our life, our strength and our salvation.
May we all be so armed and swallowed up of victory, and after this warfare is accomplished sing anthems of praise and glory eternally to Him who hath redeemed us and cleansed us from all sin.
B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 7, 1908.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 9.
MAY 1, 1908.