I’ve been mulling what God says about strength ever since I wrote about it four weeks ago. This past week, COVID’s delta variant and the Afghan government’s collapse ratcheted life to a more precarious, difficult level than most of us have ever seen. How can we get through its challenges unless we grasp what God wants us to know about strength? (We could use an extra dose of it right now.)
Psalm 84 describes pilgrims going through a dry or heart-wrenching place—but in victory: “they will go from strength to strength.” Sounds great to me, but what does it mean? And how does that fit in with faith?
Hebrew is a language of action, so our first clue is in the words’ physical and spiritual implications.
Multiple connotations of strength
Some translations of Psalm 84:7 say “they will go from company to company.” Back then, people making make long journeys didn’t rely on one set of camels for the trek. At a way station, they swapped their tired camels for fresh ones before starting the next leg of their trip.
Psalm 84:7 also describes the Hebrews’ pilgrimages to Jerusalem. For safety, they would travel in groups (troops or companies). To get there, they ascended the mountains surrounding the holy city. As they neared their destination, their anticipation of worshipping in the Temple invigorated them. It gave them strength to outdo each other in getting to Jerusalem.
Spiritually, the word “strength” (chayil) in Psalm 84:7 alludes to an army. Our God is the Lord of Hosts—commander of angel armies.
Finally, just like physical exercise builds muscle, each spiritual victory gives us a fresh dose of courage, vigor, and greater faith to be overcomers.
But that’s not all!
Strength is also a milestone in our walk with Christ.
The milestone of strength
The Apostle Peter puts it this way:
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:10 (BSB)
That’s more than a checklist. It’s a progression.
The progression becomes obvious when we peek into the Greek:
Restore = fit/adjust exactly to be in good working order
Secure = fix in place; support/solidly secure something to eliminate all wobbliness or vacillation
Strengthen = equip/enable something to move in a way so it achieves a goal by the most effective means
Establish = lay the foundation for something firm and unwavering
So we have
- Complete repairs (think furniture restoration)
- Set fast and turn resolutely in a certain direction
- Strengthen physically and spiritually so we are mobilized to more effectively achieve God’s purposes
- Bring it all together, settle the whole matter once and for all; consolidate everything into a foundation that is an unwavering view of eternity
I compared more than a dozen translations of this verse. Some say “perfect” instead of restore;” some say some say “settle” instead of “establish.” But all translations say “strengthen” in the third spot.
God repairs and restores our lives. He points us in the right direction for how to live that life. As we experience it and grow in spiritual knowledge, we become equipped to be more “mobile” for achieving what God wants us to do. And we can do it effectively. We can have an eternal impact on this world when we are “mobile” for God. What an extraordinary definition for strength!
The best news is you don’t need to conjure that on your own. Look at 1 Peter 5:10 again. It says God Himself will do this in you. He restores, secures, strengthens, and settles you. And He will give you fresh legs for the journey. Thank you, Lord!
Pray the progression
I encourage you to pray through that progression. Ask God’s help with each. Pray for courage to stay on course. Ask God to reveal any roadblocks that would prevent that progression. Claim that He is working out everything in your life. Praise Him for doing it in ways you can’t see.
And when you face challenges with strength you didn’t know you had, you can immediately praise God for His visible sign of working in your life!
How have you experienced going “from strength to strength”? Let us know in the comments. It would encourage everyone to hear your story!
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This song perfectly captures the anticipation of worshipping God in His Temple: a live performance of “Threshold of Glory” (one of my fav songs).
NOTE: The first 30 seconds are a reading of Psalm 145:1-5, which relates to the song.
Professional recording/mix of the same song (audio only)