The Lord Is My Strength
James Smith, 1855
"The Lord is my strength" Exodus 15:2
The Israelites were now delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they had passed the Red Sea; and, standing on the shore after their deliverance, they sang this song. They had the wilderness immediately before them, and the promised land in the distance; they needed encouragement, and here it is presented to them.
Our position as Christians, is somewhat similar to theirs. We are passing through a waste howling wilderness — to our Father's house. We have already been delivered from many foes, fear, and dangers; but many more lie before us. Here, then, is our comfort: our strength is in God, or rather our God is our strength. The Spirit is teaching us this great and beneficial truth — by all our disappointments, foes, fears, trials, and difficulties; and we must learn it if ever we are to enjoy permanent peace, overcome our foes, or successfully travel on our journey. Let us notice,
1. The PRIVILEGE."The Lord is my strength." It is to be put in possession of strength which is infinite — not the strength of a creature — but the strength of God. Surely this will inspire us with courage, and give us boldness. Our foes at best are but mighty — but the Lord, who is our strength, is almighty.
Fears may assail us,
doubts may try us,
our hearts may misgive us,
and our foes beset us —
but Jehovah is our strength!
Think of this, Christian, for it will not only give you
courage — but it will assist you in the conflict. Your God
will secretly, silently, and seasonably communicate strength unto you. He
will . . .
revive you when you faint,
cheer you when you droop, and
strengthen you with power in your soul.
If God is your strength — then it will be sufficient for
the most trying times. Who can tell what is before us — we may have . . .
may even be called to die!
But what if this should be the case! If God is our strength — we shall find his grace sufficient for us, and his strength made perfect in our weakness. Let us not think too much of the trials of the way — but rather let us rejoice that the Omnipotent God is our strength!
If God is our strength — it is certain at all seasons, and in all places. Uncertainty belongs to man, not to our God. If we trust the creature, all is uncertain — but not if we trust Jehovah. He is in one mind. His promise is sure to be fulfilled. As sure as we need strength, looking to the Lord — we shall have it.
If Jehovah is our strength, then it is unfailing though all else change. The Lord never fails the soul that confides in him. Trust, therefore, in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
Let us consider,
2. The PROOF that Jehovah is our strength.
Reader, if the Lord is your strength — then he has taught you to know your weakness. The Lord is not the strength of that man who feels himself strong, and who can boast of his might. God's strength is made perfect in our weakness; and all His people, as they grow in grace, grow weaker and weaker, until at last they feel compelled to look to the strength of God alone — to enable them to do, to suffer, and to overcome.
It is a very great part of the work of the Holy Spirit — to strip us and empty us, and bring us down in the dust before God, as bruised reeds or smoking flax. The man who has no strength of his own — will find God to be the strength of his heart, and his portion forever. The weakest generally succeed the best.
If God is your strength — then you will painfully feel your poverty. He is the strength of the poor. Those who have nothing in themselves, will he bountifully supplied with all that they need by a kind and gracious God. There is no way to spiritual wealth — but through the valley of poverty; no entering Heaven — but as poor sinners.
If God is your strength — then you have faith in his Word. It is faith alone — which appeals to, embraces, and receives Divine strength. If we are kept by the power of God, it is through faith. Faith is the medium through which the strength of God is communicated to us. As our faith is — so is our strength.
If God is your strength — then you are of those who pray and wait at his throne of grace. What faith believes — prayer seeks; and what is sought in prayer, the man whose strength is in God, waits for and expects.
If God is your strength — then you will be tried.
The Lord never gives us strength — that we may lie down and sleep or loiter
away our time — but that we may . . .
work in his vineyard,
war with his foes, and
hasten to his kingdom.
He will try all the strength he gives. The
strongest Christian has no strength to spare, or to trifle with. We often
think that we have not sufficient strength to . . .
perform their duties,
master their difficulties, and
conquer their foes —
but we are mistaken. Past experience proves this to be wrong, and so will the future. But let us glance,
3. At the result.If Jehovah is our strength — then perseverance is certain. The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. At first we set out with a run, then we come to a walk, and by and bye, to a stand-still; but as our day is — so is our strength. The weaker we feel — the more we discover the need of Divine strength. And when all our own strength is exhausted — we come up out of the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.
If God is our strength — then conquest is sure.
Who is a match for omnipotence? What shall overcome the strength of God
Almighty? If any object and say, "But I do not overcome, my foes are too
strong for me, my besetting sins prevail against me;" remember, you are
still in the battlefield, the victory is not yet won; but if God is your
strength it is certain, for
"A feeble saint shall win the day,
Though death and Hell obstruct the way!"
Beware of giving way to fear, or of yielding to unbelief; for the Lord will never crown a coward. Courage, Christian. Look to your God. Expect strength from him.
"True you are weak — but he is strong,
And will his strength impart;
He'll teach your feeble hands to war,
And cheer your fainting heart."
If God is your strength — then you will safely arrive at home. The kingdom is given to you. The mansion is being prepared for you. The vessel in which you sail, is unsinkable. The whole of the crew will arrive safe in port. You are left for Heaven. You are sailing to Heaven. You will soon arrive in Heaven — for Jehovah is your strength.
Christian, if the Lord is your strength — then you need not fear — for omnipotence goes before you. What would you fear if omnipotence is with you, and for you? Would you fear impotence? Would you fear weakness?
If your strength is in your God — then you must not presume. The Lord will not exert his strength to save you from presumption.
If the Lord is your strength — then you may attempt great things and expect great things. Take off your eyes from your own folly and weakness — and fix them upon infinite wisdom and omnipotence! What may you not expect then, what may you not attempt then?
If the Lord is your strength — then there is no excuse for idleness. If you are doing nothing for God, where is your excuse? Up, slothful Christian, enter into the vineyard, and work while it is called today.
If God is your strength — then you may rejoice even in the prospect of the greatest trials, as the prophet did, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty — yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights!" Habakkuk 3:17-19
If the Lord is your strength — then you ought to be grateful, for very few realize and enjoy this privilege. You may have before you trials, difficulties, and foes — yet with God for your strength, you shall find all work together for your good. Praise God with your heart, with your voice, and with your life: for, as Matthew Henry says, "While thanks-giving is good, thanks-living is better."