Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up your strength, and come and save us.
Stir up thy strength, and come and save us. It is singular that three only of the twelve tribes should be mentioned; but the poet's mind was full of the wilderness associations, and he knew that these three tribes followed in the order of procession immediately behind the ark. So the shining forth of the glory is thought of as at once seen by them. "The writer prays that the brightness of the Shechinah, the light of God's countenance, thus manifested in old time 'before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,' may be once more vouchsafed as a sign of favour." The expression here used, "Stir up thy strength for our salvation," implies that all God's savings may be thought of as expenditures of the Divine strength - the strength of the Divine activity, the strength of the Divine wisdom, and the strength of the Divine love.
I. THE STRENGTH OF GOD'S ACTIVITY NEEDED FOR SAVING WORK. This is the point of the prayer of the psalmist. He wants God to show energy, to put forth energy, to bestir himself in order to do something for his people. The poetical thought is of God dormant, unconcerned with the trouble of his people. It is as if he would even awaken him to activity. The expression must be treated poetically. It brings out the idea that man needs God's active strength, since man asks his help only when he feels helpless. The saving needed is beyond man, so he has a high idea of the energy and the power that must be required.
"Twas great to speak a world from nought;
Twas greater to redeem." Apply to the redemption of the world from sin through our Lord Jesus Christ. What activity, energy, skill, and power were required for the great salvation!
II. THE STRENGTH OF GOD'S WISDOM NEEDED FOR SAVING WORK. The histories of the Old Testament abundantly illustrate the fact, that God's times and ways of saving are seldom such as man could have thought of. The wisdom of them was fully seen in their issues; but it was altogether beyond men, too strong for men to grasp and understand. How Israel was to be saved from Egypt, or Assign, or Babylon, men could not tell. It was done in the times of Moses, and of Hezekiah, and in the "Return," through the strength of the Divine wisdom, combined with the strength of Divine energy. Apply to the great salvation from sin. The Divine wisdom in it has been the marvel of the ages, and it is marvellous still, deeper than even an ocean line can reach. "The wisdom of God in a mystery."
III. THE STRENGTH OF GOD'S LOVE NEEDED FOR SAVING WORK. This leads into familiar ranges of thought. Our best deeds are done, and are best done, in the strength and inspiration of our love. And we are bidden to try and realize that love of God in human redemption, which is "beyond all manner of so much." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.