There are many ways to show strength. Strength can be shown in our demeanor during a crisis, admitting that we need help, our sheer will power to overcome an obstacle, and how much of a physical load we can lift or carry. In the context of nations, strength can be shown by the size of a country’s armed forces and its financial influence on the global marketplace. However, these shows of strength are only temporary as our bodies lose physical strength with age and illness, our pride can stop us from asking for help, we can become discouraged and give up the fight, nations rise and fall, and world financial markets are volatile. Thus, what if we viewed our spiritual strength not from an offensive position, but from a defensive position with the Lord serving as our fortress? What if we could look past our frail abilities, beyond ourselves and look to the Lord for strength?
The Psalms are a perfect example of life’s ups and downs. One Psalm could be praising God for a mighty victory and the next Psalm lamenting over sin and defeat. Even in the Psalms where all seems lost, the writers express their hope in the Lord and that deliverance is coming. The Bible has hundreds of verses concerning strength and the King James Version of the Psalms alone contains sixteen Hebrew words for strength. In studying these different words, we learn how nuanced the word strength is, but strength in the Psalms breaks down into four basic categories: force, majesty, praise, and security.
Our praises of God bring strength
“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2, KJV).
“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.” (Psalm 29:1, KJV).
“Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and His strength is in the clouds.” (Psalm 68:34, KJV).
“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 81:1, KJV).
Our God is mighty in His strength
“I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” (Psalm 71:16, KJV).
“It is God that girdeth me with strength, and make my way perfect…For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.” (Psalm 18:32, 39 KJV).
“Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed; He will hear him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” (Psalm 20:6, KJV).
“The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” (Psalm 110:2, KJV).
God’s majesty is in His strength
“Bless the Lord, ye His angels that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.” (Psalm 103:20, KJV).
“Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.” (Psalm 132:8-9).
“Honor and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” (Psalm 96:6, KJV).
“The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” (Psalm 93:1, KJV).
God’s strength brings us security
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, KJV).
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, KJV).
“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, KJV).
“Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy.” (Psalm 59:17, KJV).
We cannot rely solely on ourselves and our possessions
Throughout the Psalms, there are reminders and warnings that we cannot place our strength in neither our physical bodies nor in armies or possessions.
Psalms about loss of physical strength- Psalms 22:15, 31:10, 38:10, 71:9, 73:4,88:4, 90:10, 105:36, and 147:10.
Psalms warning about placing strength in armies and possessions- Psalms 33:16-17 and 52:7.
Coming to a place where we realize that our bodies, minds, and resources have limitations can be very difficult to accept. I have in the last year battled health problems that have changed my perspective on my physical abilities and my outlook on life. I have struggled with this new perspective, but I am learning to let go of what I cannot control. All things are not meant to be in our control, for we serve an Almighty and All-Powerful God. Who else would you rather deal with it- you or God? The best that we can do is to praise God and rejoice where we are at, make the most of the time we have left to live, and realize that where our strength ends, God’s strength begins. The Apostle Paul was a man who dealt with many difficulties and persecutions as he proclaimed the Gospel and asked God to remove these obstacles, but God had a different and probably unexpected response that strengthened Paul.
“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, KJV).
God bless you all.