Your God has commanded your strength: strengthen, O God, that which you have worked for us.…
God has His own wise and good purposes, which will never vary in themselves; but the fulfilment of these purposes in our behalf is conditional. That is to say, our own desire and will must meet God's will, if we are to be truly blessed. For example, generally speaking, God wills our health; but only as we ourselves obey the laws of health shall we be healthy. Again, God would have us undertake successful work; but the success is conditional on our diligence. So, too, while God desires that we should conquer temptation, and that our nature should be regenerate and pure, on our part there must be the earnest resistance of sin, and an intense, a ceaseless craving for the righteousness of God.
I. STRENGTH — this word has had very various meanings; indeed, we might almost say that the different ideals of strength that have been cherished among the nations have determined the complexion of the world's history.
1. Sheer, naked force has been with some the familiar and favourite type of strength. The tremendous energy of tempest, earthquake, and fire has impressed men's minds with awe.
2. Later in the world's history, a higher type of strength was developed, and chiefly, at first, among the Greeks, who, with their handful of disciplined troops, could put to rout the myriads of the vast horde of Xerxes. For they had learned that it is net sheer force that of itself accomplishes the greatest things, but rather force adapted and adjusted, with nice exactitude, to the required result. Thus discipline and strategy, to say nothing of courage, counted for far more than numbers; and as in war, so in ether things, mere force was not of so much account as means and methods which made for the wise direction, and therefore for the economy, of force.
3. Meanwhile the very highest type of strength was preparing in the world (Proverbs 24:5; Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18; Psalm 37:31; Psalm 81:13, 14). The strength is the strength of righteousness, and the righteousness is the righteousness of God. In the Gospel of Christ we have this Old Testament teaching fulfilled and perfected. To be holy is to be truly strong; and this strength is to be, not for our own sakes alone, but for others — we are to be strong to serve, and save, and bless. And a new inspiration is now in the world for the effectuation of the true strength of life (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
II. Our strength is COMMANDED. This may be understood twofoldly.
1. It means, in part, that the invincible power of God's will is on our side. In His ordainment of things, our victory is prepared. All the arrangements of His providence, and all the richer ministrations of His grace, are to be contributory to this results — that we shall conquer. If we remember this when the world is adverse, and when our own heart is weak; if we think of it when the forces of evil gather round our soul: that it is God's irrefragable will that we shall conquer — oh, what mighty enthusiasm will be born of this very assurance, and how impotent will seem every opposition that sets itself against the purpose of the Most High! (1 John 5:4).
2. The words are also a stimulus to our endeavour and devotion. God commands that all things shall subserve our strength, and contribute to our victory, if we are faithful; but He likewise commands our fidelity itself, anti the putting forth of our utmost effort, without which, indeed, His purpose in our behalf cannot be fulfilled. Some fourteen years ago our colony of Natal was threatened with great disaster. The Zulus had surprised and cut to pieces one of our regiments at Isandula, and, flushed with their victory, were about to pour into Natal, to devastate and destroy; when a handful of English soldiers, hastily fortifying themselves in their position at Rorke's Drift, set themselves to withstand the whole horde of savage, eager warriors. It was indeed a forlorn hope; but they felt that it was as though the eyes of all the world were upon them, watching whether they would do their duty, and be strong. If over men were "commanded" to be strong, by all the most sacred claims of country, kindred, and home, it was then; and right nobly did they respond to the call. And, while "all the world wondered," these few dozens of men beat back at last the invading host. So it is with us, in our seasons of sore temptation; for — Isaiah 59:19. And in like manner, when we are discouraged by the overwhelming difficulties of our work, asking in our dismay, "Who is sufficient for these things?" then it is that this same "command " of God stirs the soul like the sound of a trumpet.
(T. F. Lockyer, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.