They all hold swords to engage in combat with the soul which, by a secret presumption, attributes to self what belongs to God only; and this causes them to exclaim with united voice; Who is like unto God? The Divine Righteousness is the first that comes to fight with and destroy the self-righteousness of the creature, and then comes strength to bring to naught the power of man, and causing him to enter by experience of his own infinite weakness into the strength of the Lord (Psalm lxxi.16), teaches him to dismiss all thought except of the righteousness of God. His providence assails human foresight; and thus with all the attributes. They are all armed, for it is necessary that the soul should be destroyed in these matters before being admitted to the bed of Solomon, becoming a bride and reaching the finishing and consummation of its marriage. These great warriors have every one his sword upon his thigh. This sword is nothing else than the word of God, deep, searching and effectual, discovering to the soul its secret presumption, and at the same time destroying it.
This is the uncreated Word, which only manifests itself in the depths of the soul, that it may there operate what it expresses. It is no sooner declared, than, like a stroke of lightning, it reduces to ashes all that opposes it. It operated in the same way when it became incarnate (Psalm xxxiii.9). For He spake and it was done, and impressed upon His humanity the characters of His Omnipotence. It entered into the abasement of the creature, to bring down its loftiness, and into its weakness to destroy its strength; it took the form of a sinner that it might annihilate self-righteousness. It does the same in the soul; it abases, weakens and covers it with wretchedness.
But why does the Scripture say that they are thus armed because of fear in the night? By this we are to understand, that as self-appropriation is what keeps the soul in darkness, and is the cause of all its melancholy nights, the Divine Attributes are armed against it, that it may not usurp that which belongs only to God.