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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

The Wicked Bend Their Bow (Psalms 11.2)
Date Posted: September 27, 2020

“In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, 'Flee as a bird to your mountain'? For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.” (Psalm 11.1-7).

Times change; men do not! The expression “Bend their bows” is a metaphor that simply means to be prepared to do violence. This expression is used about a half dozen times in the Bible and each time it means the same. In the case of the eleventh Psalm, it specifically speaks of wicked men who stand ready at a moment's notice to bring harm to those that are “upright of heart.” The curiosity here is in the fact that the upright have enemies. Contrary to what we might think, those who do no wrong to others are not immune from violence; in fact, they are often targets of it!

Paul spoke to Timothy in this manner in the New Testament: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3.12-15). Once again the Holy Spirit emphasized the fact that those who are upright are not exempt from the onslaughts of evil men. In fact, from Paul's words, those who follow God put a bounty on their heads inviting those of wicked motives to take aim at them for no other reason except the fact that good and evil are always at odds.

Paul is himself silent testimony to the principle opined by the Psalmist. Paul's motives were always the highest, his message was always one of hope, and his word was his bond. Nothing evil could be said about him by anyone of honest heart and motive. Yet, far from being immune to the attacks that evil men support, Paul had a “target on his back” which seemed to invite confrontation and persecution. In every country, in every town and village, his antagonists followed him with tales that could only serve to stir up others and further hatred for him. Lest there be any misunderstanding about the lengths to which others would go to to harm Paul, notice this list of atrocities: “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—.” (2 Corinthians 11.23-27). Make no mistake about it – Paul was a marked man!

If one it to be a follower of righteousness, he must be prepared to take the heat that such a decision will draw. There are no shortcuts to glory in this matter – The Wicked Bend Their Bow!

Questions:

1. What does “bend the bow” mean?

2. What might be an equivalent phrase in today's English?

3. What evidence is there that Paul knew this principle first hand?

4. What is the likelihood that those who wish to live godly lives will suffer persecution?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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