Ps 78:9-11 “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.”
In Ps 78:9, The Interlinear Bible reads, “The sons of Ephraim were armed, shooters of bows”. The word “carrying” literally means “to hurl or to shoot”. The point is that they both had the necessary weapon AND they were skilled in using it! What is the weapon of the believer? It is called “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”! (Eph 6:17) In Ez 13:2-5, these prophets through false teaching have not helped the people to be able to stand in the day of battle; but, in contrast, we infer that to sit under sound preaching is to be prepared to stand and not run in the day of battle. Brethren, we have been armed with the word of God and well-trained in its use, but what will we do in the day of battle?!! Many have a fair speech, know the right thing to say, can quote a lot of Scripture and repeat like parrots their pastors, but what will happen when the war comes to their doorstep? Ephraim had what he needed and had been well-prepared for the fight; there was no lack in those areas. So, where was the problem? Ephraim made two mistakes that we must guard against!
1) They were disobedient! (v. 10)
To not go into battle was an act of disobedience on their part! If for no other reason, they should have pressed on because God said to do so! In 1 Ti 6:10-12, we are told to fight! In Eph 6:10-13, we are told to stand! In 1 Co 16:13 we are told to watch, stand fast, and be strong! If we stopped right here, we’d have sufficient reason to hold our ground because God said to do so! The Lord says in Heb 10:38, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Didn’t the Lord warn us to consider when we spoke the same words as the man in Lk 9:57-58? Didn’t the Lord warn us to count the cost of discipleship in Lk 14:26-33? Did Christ promise a bed of roses, or did he say, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”? But He didn’t stop there, did He? Praise God, He said also “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33) Don’t let the strength of the battle surprise you, Christian. The Lord said it would be this way. Follow the captain of your salvation into battle. If you love Him, keep His commandments. Don’t be fearful. If you’ll avoid Ephraim’s second mistake, you won’t be!
2) They forgot Who was on their side! (v. 11)
Do you remember all of those little skirmishes you had before this point? What happened? You say, “God got me through it.” Exactly! He was preparing you for the battle. He was confirming that He is faithful! Don’t forget what God has already done for you! In Ps 119:52, this memory is the source of the psalmist’s comfort! In Ps 27:1-3, the psalmist said an entire army couldn’t make him fear because of God’s past deliverance! See also Ps 44:1-8. Ephraim knew these things and thus should have trusted in God and not their bows. If you trust in your skill with handling the word, you will run in the day of battle! Our hope is not in our ability! It is in the Lord!!! In Zech 10:3-9, we find Ephraim again, but this time, notice who’s handling the bow in v. 4. God is! These will fight and not turn because God is with them (v. 5)! We find even Ephraimites standing their ground when they know the Lord is on their side in v. 7!
I only found one New Testament character with a bow in Rev 6:2. Comparing this text with Rev 19:11, we find that the white horse rider is Christ! He will succeed! Trust in His bow! Continuing to compare the bow to His word, we know that He alone can say “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Only He can with certainty proclaim, “My word will not return unto me void.” The bow belongs to Him! Sheep our defenseless! All their hope is in the Shepherd! Our heavenly Shepherd has promised He will never leave nor forsake us, so if He commands us to go, go forward trusting that, though the battle is overwhelming to you, the Shepherd, the captain of your salvation, goes as well. And, as David said when he faced Goliath, “the battle is the LORD’s”!
Isa 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD”