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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour

By Horatius Bonar


      "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength." -- Judges 5:21

      THIS is one note of the warrior's song; a note loud and glad. It is the exulting cry of victory; the song of triumph; victory and triumph; when the battle was not merely for Israel but for God. It is the song of Deborah and Barak; a song inspired by the Holy Ghost; a song of earth, yet doubtless responded to in heaven; the song of the putting off of the armour; the song of one who was strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

      We might suppose it uttered by Abraham on returning from the slaughter of the kings; by Moses when he saw Pharaoh overthrown; by Joshua when he discomfited Amalek; by David when he slew Goliath; by Israel in the latter day (Isaiah 14:3,4). It is the song of one who out of weakness had been made strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

      We might suppose it to be Christ's song of triumph when he died, with "It is finished" on His lips; or still more when He rose again from the dead; or still more when He ascended on high, leading captivity captive.

      We might take it as the song of apostles on the day of Pentecost, when, "not by might or power," they saw three thousand saved; and as the song of apostles wherever they went preaching the gospel,--Ephesus, Corinth, Colosse, or Rome,--that wondrous gospel, proving itself mighty in their hands to the pulling down of strongholds, and the overthrow of enemies. Surely it was Paul's when he said, "I have fought a good fight."

      We might take it as the church's song in the day of her coming triumph over all her enemies; over Antichrist, over Babylon, over Satan; when caught up into the clouds, or standing on the sea of glass: "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."

      It must be ours (1) daily; (2) specially at certain seasons and emergencies; (3) at the last, like Paul; (4) hereafter throughout eternity, as we look back upon the past, and understand more fully our own impotence, as well as the greatness of the powers arrayed against us. How often shall we find ourselves repeating, even in the new Jerusalem, the song of the ancient prophetess, "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."

      I. Our warfare. It is "a good warfare," or more exactly, "a glorious warfare." It is against enemies within, around, beneath; self, the flesh, the world, but specially, the principalities and powers of evil. "Fight the good fight of faith." It is our battle. It is God's battle. It is the church's battle; for we are but one of a mighty army of warriors. It is a warfare from which we cannot escape, save by deserting Christ's ranks; for there is no discharge in this war. It is a constant warfare. It is a lifelong warfare. It is earnest and terrible; no child's play; no mere sound or name; but an intense reality. Nowhere out of Scripture do we find it better described than by Bunyan in his Pilgrim's Progress. He knew the reality, and has painted it well. Our life is then a warfare; a warfare which enters into everything; because at every step our great adversary stands to bar our progress, and to prevent us glorifying God in each portion and transaction of life. You complain of the power of sin. Well, fight! Of the difficulty of believing. Well, fight!

      II. Our weapons. We need to be armed, both for defence and offence; fully equipped in every instrument of battle. No half- furnished soldier can fight a battle like this. There must be no broken swords, no rusted spears, no shattered helmets.

      (1.) What our weapons are not. They are not carnal; not earthly; not self-made, nor man-made. They are not the weapons of science, or philosophy, or human intellect. These avail nothing against sin, or the flesh, or Satan.

      (2.) What they are. They are divine and heavenly, forged and hammered on no earthly anvil. They are God-made and God- given. They are complete, both for attack and defence. Sword, shield, sandal, helmet,--all that is needed in this warfare, and described by the apostle (Eph. 6), are provided for us. No man loses this battle for want of offered armour.

      III. Our strength. We need power to use the provided weapons. Not the weapons without the power, nor the power without the weapons, but both together. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Our sufficiency is of God; all strength is in the Lord. What are sword and buckler to palsied limbs? We need strength,--divine strength for divine armour. The fullness of Him to whom all power is given, is at our disposal. There need be no lack of strength to us in this warfare.

      Our victory. It is no vain warfare this of ours; no idle battlefield. We go forth to win! Yes. Our eye is fixed on victory from the outset. We are assured of triumph from the moment we draw the sword. We are made more than conquerors. How often are these words sounded in our ears: "To him that overcometh." We aim at daily victory,--we aim at final victory,--such as that of Paul. Fight and conquer. Let us anticipate the warrior's song: "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."

      Our recompense. All that win have their rewards; but some victories are harder to win; some more or less complete. And there is a difference in the degree of reward. The seven rewards promised to the seven churches are representative rewards. They represent seven different kinds or degrees of glory, set before the conqueror. Yet the least reward is unutterably excellent; worth all the struggle, and the sacrifice, and the sorrow.

      Brethren, let us fight! Let us aim at victory; at complete and perfect victory. Let us covet a high reward; let us be ambitious of no common crown. Our great Captain speaks to us, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me." How soon He may appear we know not. And He comes with the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory in His hand for His own. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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