We know that the Lord is the one who gives strength to the weak, right?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)
This is good news, right? Isaiah points us to the God who has life in himself, who brought forth the world from nothing, as the one that gives power and life to those who trust in him. What comfort! When we are weary and laid low, the Lord has energy to spare that he freely gives to those who will call on his name. This is supernatural strength too–eventually even the seemingly tireless youth gives out at some point, but God’s strength isn’t tied to human limits, though. So even when it seems like there is nothing left for us to give, God supplies vitality to his people to accomplish the tasks he’s set them. Surely we can sing about this?
What we don’t often give thought to is the inverse truth: God can remove the strength of the strong.
“Behold, I will press you down in your place,
as a cart full of sheaves presses down.
Flight shall perish from the swift,
and the strong shall not retain his strength,
nor shall the mighty save his life;
he who handles the bow shall not stand,
and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself,
nor shall he who rides the horse save his life;
and he who is stout of heart among the mighty
shall flee away naked in that day,” declares the LORD.
(Amos 2:13-16 ESV)
While Isaiah points us to the life-giving God, Amos reminds us that those who oppose the Lord through the arrogance of their own might, will find it failing come the day of judgment. No one is fast enough, strong enough, clever enough, or brave enough to withstand the coming of the one who is the source of all these things. We who are tempted to trust in our own muscle, our chariots, our horses, to accomplish our own ends apart from or opposed to the Lord, will soon find ourselves weak in the knees.
As ominous as that sounds, contained within Amos’ judgment is a comfort as well. All too often in this world, might makes right, and the wicked prosper because it seems that righteousness never has the bigger guns. Eventually, though, the tireless God will tire of his patience towards their oppression. The words of the Lord remind us that ultimately our hope isn’t in power measured by human standards, but in the righteous God whom even the mightiest tyrants cannot stand.
Soli Deo Gloria