THE SERVANT GENERAL
THEME FOR 2011
THE LORD OUR STRENGTH
April 15, 2011
Today’s reading: Psalm 18:2-7
theme for this year comes from Isaiah 49:5, “and my
God is now my strength!” Indeed, if we are to do the
work that God eternally destined us to do, we will need to
go forth in the fullness of His strength. The meaning of His
strength is so deep and so all-encompassing. It is about the
fullness of our life in Him.
was so overwhelmed by the Lord’s deliverance, that he
was very effusive in proclaiming who God was.
“I love you, Lord, my strength,
Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
my God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!”
does it mean that God is our strength?
First, God is our rock. Jacob proclaimed “the power
of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock
of Israel” (Gn 49:24b). Moses, in his song, proclaimed:
“The Rock--how faultless are his deeds, how right all
his ways!” (Dt 32:4a). Isaiah says that “the Lord
is an eternal Rock.” (Is 26:4b).
says that our ancestors in the faith “ate the same spiritual
food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank
from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was
the Christ.” (1 Cor 10:3-4). This was about the Exodus
experience of Israel, but pointing to the Christian experience,
with Christ as our spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist.
The Rock followed the Israelites throughout their migration
(according to rabbinic legend).
us, Christ, the source of the living water, is the Rock upon
whom we build our house and base our lives (Mt 7:24). We need
never fear, even if the house is buffeted by storms, for it
has been set solidly on rock (Mt 7:25). Our God keeps us on
a solid foundation!
Second, God is our fortress. A fortress is where we live and
work secure. It is the bastion that withstands the attacks
of the enemy. It is the base from which we attack the enemy.
As the Lord laughs at our enemies and derides all the nations
(Ps 59:9), we look to Him: “My strength, for you I watch;
you, God, are my fortress” (Ps 59:10). Our God keeps
Third, God is our deliverer. We face a very powerful enemy,
but the Lord delivers us from our enemies. We look not to
our own strength or resources, but only to Him. “A king
is not saved by a mighty army, nor a warrior delivered by
great strength. ... But the Lord’s eyes are upon the
reverent, ... delivering them from death” (Ps 33:16,18a,19a).
With the Lord, we need never be afraid of anything. The Lord
“delivers us from all (our) fears.” (Ps 34:5b).
We can go forth and engage the enemy, knowing that in the
end, our God will be there as our deliverer. Our God delivers
Fourth, God is our rock of refuge. In our work we will face
many challenges. We will be wounded in battle, and pummeled
by many blows. But we can always find refuge in God. The Lord
provides His people “refuge in time of distress. The
Lord helps and rescues them, rescues and saves them from the
wicked, because in God they take refuge.” (Ps 37:39b-40).
Our God gives us refuge!
Fifth, God is our shield. When we are engaged in battle, the
enemy will shoot his fiery darts and arrows at us. God gives
us our protective gear. It is our faith in Jesus. We “hold
faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the
evil one.” (Eph 6:16). And we know God will be faithful
to us, that “God’s faithfulness is a protecting
shield.” (Ps 91:4c). Thus we need never “fear
the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor
the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that
ravages at noon.” (Ps 91:5-6). Our God protects us!
Sixth, God is our saving horn. The horn is the dreadful weapon
of an enraged bull. It is a symbol of great strength. Zechariah,
in his canticle, said that God “has raised up a horn
for our salvation within the house of David his servant”
(Lk 1:69), referring to Jesus. Indeed, when Jesus won for
us our salvation through the cross upon his resurrection,
he crushed the head of the serpent. Our God saves us!
Seventh, God is our stronghold. We live in a world of injustice
and suffering and oppression. It would be easy enough to be
discouraged, to grow weary, to give up. But we do not, because
we can always turn to God who strengthens us. “The Lord
is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of
trouble.” (Ps 9:10). We can trust in God, because He
never forsakes those who seek Him (Ps 9:11). Thus we have
this wonderful assurance: “you have made the Most High
your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, no affliction come
near your tent.” (Ps 91:9b-10). Our God guards us in
all our ways!
It is of crucial importance that we look to God as our strength.
We face the fearsome tsunami of evil in the world. “The
breakers of death surged round about me; the menacing floods
terrified me.” (Ps 18:5). But when we call upon God,
He hears and responds (Ps 18:7). God responds with His earthquake
of wrath. “The earth rocked and shook; the foundations
of the mountains trembled.” (Ps 18:8). The Lord thunders
from heaven (Ps 18:14a), attacks the enemy (Ps 18:15), and
rescues us from the mighty enemy, from foes too powerful for
us (Ps 18:17-18).
this happens “at the roar of the Lord, at the storming
breath of his nostrils.” (Ps 18:16b). Awesome indeed
is the Lord our God!
but our God is the rock?” (Ps 18:32b). “The Lord
lives! Blessed be my rock!” (Ps 18:47a).
be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.”
Lord “is a shield for all who trust in him.” (Ps
be God, my savior!” (Ps 18:47b).
With God as our strength, God has “girded (us) with
strength for war” (Ps 18:40a). So off to war we go.
We proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus to the whole
world. “Thus I will proclaim you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.” (Ps 18:50).
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