Growing up, we had a tradition in my home. At night, after we got ready for bed, brushed our teeth, and settled, my mom would read to us. She read all kinds of things to us over the years; my favorite was the Chronicles of Narnia. I have never been very adventuresome, so even though Lucy was always my favorite, I identified with the skeptical and practical Susan on a soul level.
One of my favorite scenes in the first book, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is when Father Christmas finally comes to Narnia as the witch’s spell breaks and with him, he brings gifts. To Susan he bestows a magic horn…and a bow. Although the directive is clear–use these for defense only–the image of the practical Susan with this magnificent weapon is still with me today.
Because here is the thing about the bow and arrow. Unlike a sword, which puts you into the heat of the battle so you can really only see what is in front of you, the bow allows you to survey and target both weak and strong points. It endows you with stealth and power. The skill required to wield the bow correctly can become legendary…Odysseus, Robin Hood, even Katnis Everdean and Green Arrow.
Which is why when the psalmist uses the arrow imagery in both chapter 76 and 77, I have to wonder…why?
In both chapters, the arrows are ‘flashing’, which means they have been released or loosed from the bow. They are active. In chapter 76, God breaks the arrows and uses them for kindling…clearly not afraid of the archer who loosed them. I’m chapter 77 he is the archer, attacking with fury and might that sends the heavens rolling and shaking as well.
Both show the might and strength of God.
Because here is the thing about arrows.
1. It takes a lot of strength to shoot an arrow effectively.
Bows used in time of war for effective killing have a minimum of 120 lb draw (which means when you pull the bow string you are holding 120 lbs). That’s intense. I think sometimes we mistakenly assume that archery is a woman’s sport…thanks Hollywood. But it’s only for really bad ass, strong women. Otherwise those arrows can be used for kindling. And no one is stronger than out God who uses all our weapons as his firewood. Now that is strength.
2. Arrows also require precision.
Anyone can shoot an arrow, but only precise archers are able to make use of their LIMITED amo. They make every last arrow count because, well, a quiver can only hold so many arrows. God makes every moment, every movement, every person count. He is precise in his aim. So we can count on His purpose for us being the right one every time..he can’t afford to be wrong.
3. Arrows are deadly.
Which is a good thing, because if you are seeking protection, you want to be sure of a good defense. God offers is protection and peace. He is our defending arched, but the only way he came defend us is if we get behind him. We don’t want to be standing on the business end of his arrows so we must deny our desire to lead and control and GET BEHIND our God. It’s the only way.
Archery is a beautiful sport, but it requires both skill and practice. Susan couldn’t be an effective archer, even in Narnia, without practice. Father Christmas saw her potential and chose her. God does the same. He sees our potential and chooses us for his tasks and purposes. But he is the archer. He has the strength, precision and desire to send us out onto the world, but he’ll always have out backs.
After all…he is the perfect archer.