“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might.” (Jeremiah 49:35)
As God sent word of His judgment upon the nations surrounding Judah (Jeremiah 46-50), He spoke of what would befall the kingdom of Elam. Apparently their great strength and that for which the kingdom was renown was its archers. Ironically, it was right there–at the heart of their greatest strength–that God would strike them. “I will break … the mainstay of their might.” Derek Kidner says, “Elam relied on its archers (35; cf. Is. 22:6), Ammon on its Molech (Milcom, v.3), Edom on its cleverness and crags (vv.7, 16), Damascus on its fame (25), Kedar on its remoteness and its mobility (29, 31).” (The Message of Jeremiah, 147)
It is often at the point of our greatest strength that we are most vulnerable. Our greatest victories may plant the seeds of our demise. The arrogance to which we are vulnerable in times of great success is, no doubt, that which brings us down. I recall hearing Gordon MacDonald, after a hard fall in his personal life, echo words that I believe were original with Oswald Chambers: “An unguarded strength is a double weakness.” Self-satisfaction, complacency and arrogance are dangerous allies.
What, I wonder, is America’s “mainstay of … might”? How might this become our most pronounced weakness? What is mine?
Father, save me from my own successes. Rescue me from my strengths. Deliver me from the gifts which you have invested in me. In all things help me recall my nothingness without you and rest in the sufficiency of your indwelling life. Amen.