Thursday, January 16, 2014

God's arrows of victory

Although my only experiences with bows and arrows were from playing cowboys and Indians with our cap guns and string-strung sticks, I find the imagery to be a powerful spiritual metaphor

 I can almost see the arrows of prayer and purpose, and even attack, punching through the spiritual realm into the physical.  (Want to read how that imagery helped me to publish a book?)

According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, this thinking is similar to the ancients’ prescientific worldview which recognized an unseen reality paralleling the visible one; a reality in which “a just person participated in spiritual warfare fought by greater powers with unseen weapons whose results spilled over into the visible universe.”*

(I didn’t think I had an ancient’s prescientific worldview—aren’t we fighting against unseen powers with spiritual weaponry whose results spill into our visible realm? Help me out here if you can.)


The Bible is rich with references to the arrow(s) of God, arrows of good and evil, and arrows of speech. According to the ancients, because of its swiftness and long range accuracy, the “bow and arrow was not only a weapon to be feared in the visible world but also the prime symbol of justice meted out.”—Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Yes, the devil has his “fiery darts,” but God’s arrows are the ones to be feared. They always hit their mark. Always find the chink in the armor. “Thine arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under Thee; Thine arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies”.—Psalm 45:5

And always win the victory, as Elisha told the king of Israel when he commanded him to open the window to the east and shoot “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria!”—2 Kings 13:17

But sometimes God’s arrows seem pointed at us, as Jeremiah laments:  “He has bent His bow and set me as the target for the arrow. He has made the arrows of His quiver to enter my inward parts . . . .I have forgotten happiness. . . .My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD.”—Lamentations 3:12-18

That is about as depressed a state a person can sink to.

On those days when it feels like you hardly have enough strength to shoot a rubber-tipped toy arrow— Shoot! Shoot God’s arrow of victory at however tiny a piece of Truth you can recall and watch it stick—“The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail” Then shoot again: “Great is Thy faithfulness.” And again: (Oh, go for the whole chapter!—Lamentations 3: 21).

Remarkably, even though Jeremiah thinks he has lost hope, he musters up a sliver of truth. And then another. And it is enough to open the gates of hope and help him climb out of despair.

Thing is, God knows those times when we can’t even shoot our toy arrows, and arms others to shoot for us—to be “bows in the hands of God.”—Isaiah 49:2—which is what I set out to examine today, but I think I will think about that tomorrow.

For now, may you be encouraged that it is not our own bows that will save us (Psalm 44:6) but our being a bow in the hands of a God who cannot fail. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him."--Lamentations 3:24

Blessings this midweek of January 2014,

*Love this ambitious work: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III


  1. Ok Marcia, so I just ordered that book. What a great insight and, from as I understand it, SPOT ON. I think it'd be great to have the veil pulled back for an instant, like Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6. (I had to look that up) Being able to see what's happening in the spiritual realm would likely result in a "Depends moment," but it'd be worth it :)

    1. Susan, I know what you mean about pulling back the veil--depends--One time as a young Christian I asked the Lord to let me something one night, and later when I heard footsteps coming toward me--I panicked and said, "Never mind!"

  2. I have the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery and absolutely love it. Your post has inspired me to purchase some type of bow and arrow to display near my writing desk. Wow, thanks Marcia!

    1. Cathy, I'm wishing that arrow bookends weren't so expensive at Pottery Barn, because I was thinking it a great object to have on my desk. Powerful visuals.

  3. comment disappeared, so I'll try again. I loved this. I had not associated it with the imagery before, but God has used me as a bow. a couple times, while counseling/supporting friends, such profound things came out of my mouth that I was startled! Afterward, I could not have repeated what I said to save my life. It was a God thing. And now I know, a bow! Thanks!

  4. A bow, Debra and an arrow hitting the mark He intended. Makes you "feel" the power, doesn't it!

  5. Marcia:

    To shoot a bow you need to be steady, patient, and focused intently on your target; before you release your arrow. To me, the arrow represents the message, and the key word here is release.

    Nice message. Good release.


  6. He will raise us up on eagle's wings, we will run and not be weary, we shall walk and not faint, when our hope is in the Lord. Great post, Marcia.


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