He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.…
What Israel wanted in captivity the Church of Christ now needs in its present situation, surrounded by an unsympathizing or even hostile world. It lacks power to do that which it was created to accomplish. Potentially, it has within itself all that is required to complete the great work of regeneration which its Divine Master began; in simple fact and in sad reality, it has failed to discharge its function. Every Church should be a great power for good in the country, in the neighbourhood in which it is planted; every Christian man should be a real power for piety and virtue in the circle in which he moves. We ought to have power to "witness a good profession for Jesus Christ," power to live an elevating, influential life, power to execute a useful and abiding work for cur Lord. Can we say that this is the case with our Churches, with ourselves? Must we not regretfully admit that it is not so? We note -
I. THE PREVALENCE OF HUMAN WEAKNESS. Probably the "faint, and those who had no might," among the exiled Israelites were the dispirited, the dissatisfied, the despairing - those who had lost hope in God and had no expectation of ever seeing again the land of their fathers. So with the Israel of God; the faint and the weak include:
1. Joyless souls, who have no gladness in God, and no happiness in his service, who walk even in the "path of life" with no brightness in their countenance and no elasticity in their step. But they include also:
2. Half-hearted souls, whose devotedness to Christ is seriously defective, who cannot say, "With my whole heart have I served thee," who seem to think that a very large amount of selfishness is consistent with loyalty to the Lord, and who are often falling "out of rank" when they should be walking on in the march or actively engaged in the battle.
3. Faint-hearted souls, who have no courage to attempt anything for their Master and their fellow-men, and who consequently allow their life to pass on and away without achieving anything in the field of sacred usefulness.
4. Souls open to temptation; those who have gained such an imperfect control over themselves that they lie exposed to the gusts of temptation, and their best friends are continually solicitous lest they should dishonour themselves and the Name they bear.
II. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF HUMAN STRENGTH. There were those in Israel from whom, in the natural course of things, strength, vigour, fortitude, might have been expected. But in vain: "Even the youths shall faint," etc. There are those in the Church of Christ whose physical constitution, or whose natural temperament, or whose intellectual capacity or acquisition might give them the appearance of strength; it would not be expected of them that they would become "weary," still less that they would "utterly fall." But no reliance can be placed on such natural supports, such unspiritual resources. These souls are not strong in the deeper sense in which the Church needs strength. They are subject to the inroads of pride; they are liable to fall under the assaults of passion; they are tempted to withhold from God the glory which is due to his holy Name; they may do nothing to commend the Divine Saviour himself and his glorious gospel to the hearts of men; and, "not gathering with" Christ, they only "scatter abroad" the seeds of error and of wrong.
III. THE GIFT OF DIVINE POWER. "He giveth power...he increaseth strength." God has access to our human souls - direct and immediate access. He can "lay his hand upon us," and touch the secret springs of our nature, calling forth all that is best and worthiest, "strengthening us with strength in our soul." He can communicate to us so much of "the exceeding greatness of his power" that we can, through him and in him, become strong indeed; can attain to strength of:
1. Resistance; so that we shall be able to stand in the evil hour of temptation.
2. Endurance; that we can be calm, peaceful, acquiescent, even under the severest and the most lasting trials.
3. Steadfast piety; that we become "living epistles of Christ," etc.
4. Sacred joy.
5. Faithful utterance.
6. Perseverance in every good work. God gives us of the refreshing, renewing, invigorating influences of his Holy Spirit, and we run without weariness, we walk without tainting.
IV. THE CONDITION ON WHICH IT IS CONFERRED. This includes
(1) a patient waiting for the exercise of God's power on our behalf; and also
(2) an earnest appeal to him in believing prayer that he would fulfil his word. The truly reverent spirit will devoutly seek the Divine blessing, and confidently look for its bestowal. To expect without seeking is presumption; to seek without expecting is unbelief; to do the one and not to leave the other undone is obedience and faith in happy union. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.