The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
True religion brings with it a courageous heart, and Dr. South has well and quaintly said, that "since Christ has made a Christian course a warfare, of all men living a coward is the most unfit to make a Christian." And yet it is mournful to think that, of the great army of Christians who enrol themselves under the banner of the Cross, in Baptism and Confirmation, and who wear the uniform and carry the sword of Christian soldiers, so many resemble the ill-starred men of Ephraim, who, "being armed, and carrying bows, turned themselves back in the day of battle!" Courage can only be kept alive by zealous action. We can readily imagine a gallant regiment riding into the very valley of death at a dashing gallop, but it would be simply absurd to picture them crawling at a snail's pace towards the expectant foe, coolly calculating the chances of disastrous defeat. As Christians, we profess to be engaged in a warfare against something, even the enemies of our salvation, the world, the flesh, and the devil — three most formidable and deadly foes. The office for the Lord's Supper opens also with a prayer "for the whole state of Christ's Church militant" — the Church which is engaged in open and determined war. We can all well afford to do good service for Christ and His kingdom, since the end draweth near. Here is the battlefield, and the land of the sword and the spear. There, already is sight to the eye of faith, in the triumphal procession of the conquerors, and the land of the wreath and the crown.
(J. N. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.