Strength for Today – David Benjamin
When I was a schoolboy, I remember spending one summer with an uncle who lived in a small village in the Himalayan mountains. When the dry summer turned to tropical monsoon season, we were unable to return to the plains as landslides had blocked our only access. My father was determined to come and get us and decided to try and walk up to where we were – a journey only undertaken by local strong mountain people. As evening approached and the torrential rains made it difficult to see beyond a few feet, we ventured out to look for him as far as we could drive down the road. Bent over and struggling to walk one step at a time, we found my father, helped him into the jeep and returned to the village. My father told of his ordeal and how, he thinks, an angel ministered to him, shared some bread, and led him through a shortcut to an otherwise impossible journey. As I recall that story, I am reminded of this and similar verses from Scripture. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19
God set His commands before the people of Israel to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5. God is the source of our strength. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. I Chronicles 16:7. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
Moses spent almost 40 years as a prince of Egypt only to discover that he was born a Hebrew slave. When he tried to show his passion for Yahweh in his own strength, he failed and spent the next 40 years learning to love as God intended. When God delivered the Hebrew slaves after 400 years of slavery, Moses said,” The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him”. Exodus 15:2 Moses reminded the people that because he (Yahweh) loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength Deuteronomy 4:37
While obedience to God’s commands brings strength, disobedience to God saps our strength. Samson was a prophet in Israel with great strength with which could defeat his enemies, and they finally sent a woman named Delilah to find out the secret to his strength. Samson finally succumbed to Delilah’s enticements and after putting him (Samson) to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Judges 16:19. The book of wisdom reminds us – Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings. Proverbs 31:3. Why did Samson’s strength leave him? Was his strength really in his uncut hair or was it because his forsook his vow and allegiance to God?
The prophet Isaiah states This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” Isaiah 30:15. Repentance is a response to hearing God’s Holy Spirit bringing correction in our spiritual journey and the ability to listen to that still, small voice – this is the way walk in it, do not turn to the left or the right. Sometimes our choices are clearly between right and wrong. However, sometimes neither may be morally wrong but one way is better. These choices lead us to higher ground. It is the road less travelled. To choose thus is to rest from our misguided ways, our fleshly preferences and our flawed assessments and choices. It is the way to the cross and the way of the cross…daily. When we lose our way, God’s grace is revealed in prompting us to repent and return. When we assert our opinions rather than listen in humility to what God is saying, His grace is poured on us, and He invites us lovingly yet firmly to return into the Rest of God. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him 2 Chronicles 16:9. Wrong and poor choices can haunt us as we look back and consider how far we have strayed. God says,” I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” Ezekiel 34:16.
David was also a man of great strength who defeated many enemies. Unlike Samson, his firm declaration was,” It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me.” 2 Samuel 22:33. Before we can defeat any enemies, we must secure our direction and path by learning to love God with all our strength.
We are invited to,” Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11. Times such as these can sap our strength and make us question the journey of following Jesus. As we look to Jesus rather than look to our circumstances, we will find that God is looking at us when no one else sees our pain, our hurt and our despair. When we are unable to speak and even breathe, the Giver of Eternal Life speaks and breathes new life in us. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
God’s strength is different than carnal strength. There are many people that may display their raw and brutal strength on stage, in a wrestling match or in a street fight. The people who receive strength from God are distinctive in appearance and purpose. The Book of Wisdom describes such a person. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25. Inner strength has a graceful resolve. It is resilient yet refreshing. The view is not of those that laugh at her but the promise of God. The demeanor is not indicative nor their speech resentful of the present pain but full of joy for what lies ahead. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
What is God telling you to do today? Are you at a crossroad and wondering which is the right way or the better way? If you do not know which way to go, is God prompting you to listen and obey in the little things so He can guide you in the big decisions? Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Deuteronomy 11:8