Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of God’s working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.
Strength is a highly valued trait.
We post our intense workouts. We applaud families who carry on without too much drama after the loss of a loved one. We tell our kids to brush themselves off after a fall & keep trying again. We belt out songs like "Fight Song" & "Roar."
We assume that those displays of strength are healthy, and they can be! We should teach our kids to persevere instead of quitting. We want for people to be able to return to normal after tragedy. We need to take care of our bodies. We enjoy songs that motivate us to keep going even when it's hard.
But let's not forget to make space for weakness. Weakness is an essentially human trait & acknowledging it is important.
In doing so, we make way for true strength - the strength God provides to His children.
So, as we dive into these Bible verses about strength & being strong, let's not treat them as motivational quotes. This is God's Holy Word. We shouldn't come to it seeking a formula we can carry into our day to make life easier. We should come humbly seeking our Good & Loving Father.
Exodus 15:2, 13 - The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
Moses is rejoicing over God's wonderous deeds. We will see this theme of God being strength. And it's often the foil to the weakness of man. He acts in strength on behalf of his people.
Joshua 1:7 - Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
This is God's charge to Joshua. The idea of being strong & courageous is echoed throughout this book. The Israelites are standing on the edge of the Promised Land after decades of wilderness wandering. They were probably fighting all sorts of doubts, but God is up to the task. They simply need to follow Him in obedience.
1 Samuel 2:4, 10 - The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.
These words are spoken by Hannah after giving her much-longed-for son, Samuel, into service at the Temple. It's called a prayer, but it sounds like this might be a publicly proclaimed prayer because it is full of joy in what God has done for her, warning to those who hold onto their pride, and assurance of God's just dealings with His people.
2 Samuel 22:33 - This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.
David's song here actually is very similar to Hannah's prayer above. Would be a fun thing to study!
1 Chronicles 16:11, 27-28 - Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
David's song of thanks following the successful return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. I love the reminder here to seek God's strength & presence consistently. Not just when we're feeling weak, but also when we are feeling stronger or more sure. Those are often the times that we neglect His presence & are more vulnerable to the enemy's attacks.
1 Chronicles 28:20 - Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished."
This sounds familiar, huh? David is echoing what God spoke to Joshua & what Joshua repeated to the people. Knowing his time on earth is dwindling, he's hearkening back to this theme as he speaks final words of wisdom to his son.
2 Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.
King Asa of Judah was doing so well at leading the people to follow God. He even removed his own mother from her honored position because she refused to give up her idols. Toward the end of his reign, however, he made an alliance with the King of Syria using money from the Temple treasury. This verse is part of a message that a godly seer brought to Asa after their seemingly successful military raids. While the message is overall one of reproof, it does remind us all of the promise that God gives strength to His people who are obediently, blamelessly following Him.
2 Chronicles 26:16 - But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
King Uzziah is elsewhere called Azariah. He's similar to Asa in that he was doing really, really well at first. He was successful against the Philistines. He had building programs to strengthen Jerusalem's defenses. But all that success went to his head & Uzziah decided he knew better than God. He decided that he could be a priest as well as a king, overstepping his God-given role. Because of his arrogance, his great story ends with leprosy. It's easy to see this story as a cautionary tale & say to yourself, "Don't be prideful like Hezekiah." But I think that misses the bigger Gospel picture, right? We can see how even a really good earthly ruler falls short of God's standard of holiness. We can look down David's line to Jesus who kept the law in all points for us. We can see how He is King & Priest. We can look toward the day when Jesus will come again as the righteous King.
Ezra 10:4 - Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.
Ezra had a very difficult task ahead of him. You see, the people had intermarried during their exile from the land. (For more information on Ezra, look into the historic context in a study Bible or other trusted Bible study tool.) Now that they acknowledged the sinfulness of these marriages, they were asking to make it right by "putting away" their wives. Ezra's unenviable job was to grant fair & equitable divorces to all of these couples. (You can see the list of the men at the end of this chapter.) Shecaniah looks at him & speaks these words to him in encouragement.
Nehemiah 1:10 - They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.
Part of Nehemiah's prayer after he hears the discouraging report from Jerusalem. He's already acknowledged the sin of the people that caused the exile & destruction of Jerusalem. Here, he is call on God to act according to His character & covenant.
Nehemiah 8:10 - Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
After Nehemiah leads a remnant back to repair & resettle Jerusalem, they find the law & begin reading it aloud. The people are so struck with the weight of their sins that Nehemiah tells them to take a break. They feast & enjoy each other's company. And than reconvene to get to work dealing with their sin. I remember singing an old children's church song to those words - "The joy of the Lord is your strength." I never really thought about what it meant, but I love learning more about the context of it! It's almost like Nehemiah was preparing them for the hard work of repentance & confession by allowing them this restful respite. Rest also allows us the margin we need to see the sins & weaknesses that can stay hidden in the busyness of regular routines.
Job 12:16 - With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his.
Job has some really solid statements on the immeasurable might of our God. This one also mentions His wisdom. Boy, am I thankful that both of those things are part of God's character. Not only is He all-powerful, but He is also wise! Not to mention that He is loving, gracious, merciful, holy, righteous - the list goes on & on!
Psalm 21:1 - O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
David (& the other psalmists) write much on the topic of strength. They especially highlight God's might, and often contrast it with man's frailty. There is much praise & thanksgiving for God's strength & mighty acts!
Psalm 24:8 - Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Looking forward to Jesus' return when He will show Himself the conquering King of Glory!
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Waiting doesn't feel "strong," but here David puts them together. We can patiently & courageously look forward to how God will act on our behalf on the behalf of others. Why? Because He is faithful! He has never failed & He never will!
Psalm 28:7-8 - The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
David is dire straits, but he expresses confidence that God will act on his behalf. He then shares that confidence with the people, reminding them that God has been their strength & saving refuge. (see also 68:35)
Psalm 31:2, 10, 24 - Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Here's one of those contrasts that I mentioned before - God's great strength & man's weakness. Another common theme running through many of these psalms is the personal worship overflows into the corporate worship. He starts with please for strength; then, he encourages others to be strong, too! We may not think what we do personally matters for our corporate church life, but it does! (see also Psalm 22:15, 32:4, 38:10)
Psalm 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
One of my favorite psalms! I encourage you (as with all of these verses) to read them for yourself. This one is sure to encourage your heart. (Also, there is a verse in here that is commonly taken out of context by women's devotional pages. I'm sure you'll be able to guess which one.) (se also Psalm 65)
Psalm 59:9,16-17 - O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
David's on the run from his father-in-law. His wife has to help him escape out of a window. But even in the midst of this family drama, David finds these words. "I will watch for you" makes me think of those days when you are eagerly anticipating a visitor & the kids are watching at the windows. David is even thinking about singing! It just shows that even in the darkest moments of our life, we can find reason to rejoice as we rely on God.
Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Oooh - another favorite of mine. The psalmist is buried in self-pity until he goes to the house of God. There, he gets the right perspective.
Psalm 118:14 - The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Moses is thought to be the psalmist here & it definitely echoes the song he sang back in Exodus 15.
Psalm 138:3 - On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
In other translations, that second phrase is translated differently. The NIV says, "you greatly emboldened me." The NLT says, "you encourage me by giving me strength." I feel like those flesh out the meaning really well.
Psalm 140:7 - O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
This one is similar to the Psalm 28 passage we looked at. I love this picture of God being a protective covering for battle. Because we are definitely in a battle every moment of every day!
Psalm 147:10-11 - His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.
It's important to take care of our bodies, but that is not what truly matters. It is in fearing God & hoping in Him that we bring delight to our Father.
Proverbs 14:26 - In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
If you've spent any time at all reading in Proverbs, you know that one of the major themes is the fear of the Lord. (Go look at Proverbs 1:7 really quick to see where it starts!) I love the thought here that fearing the Lord - having a correct view of Him - gives us the sure foundation that we need. And it doesn't just affect us, it affects those around us - our kids, our families, our church family, our colleagues, etc.
Proverbs 31:17, 25 - She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
Well, it wouldn't be a blog for Christian women if we skipped over this chapter & these verses! Verse 17 doesn't just mean she works out, although that is not a bad thing. It's meaning that this virtuous, excellent woman isn't a shrinking violet, but she does hard things. Verse 25 echoes that thought & adds that her character is marked with dignity & confidence. Of course, these are fruits of what is going on inside of her heart. This chapter is not a legalistic checklist, but you can use it to do a heart check. Ask yourself, "Am I growing in these areas? Why or why not?"
Ecclesiastes 7:19 - Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
Wisdom is not just book knowledge & an endless list of letters after your name. True wisdom comes from God. (Maybe we'll have to do one of these verse posts about wisdom soon!) Here, we see that this kind of wisdom gives strength.
Isaiah 10:13 - For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones."
Isaiah is quoting an arrogant speech of the king of Assyria. Obviously, this pride & trust in his own strength led to his downfall.
Isaiah 12:2 - “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
Another song of deliverance that echoes Moses' song in Exodus.
Isaiah 28:5-6 - In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
Looking ahead to Christ's reign & the fulfillment of all of the Messianic prophecies we've yet to see accomplished.
Isaiah 30:15-16 - For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, "No! We will flee upon horses"; therefore you shall flee away; and, "We shall ride upon swift steeds"; therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
Israel has rebelled against the Lord. He gave them clear instructions & they decided to go their own way instead. And the consequences are coming. But let's look at that directive He gave - He promises them salvation & strength if they would only return, rest, be still (or quiet) & trust in Him. Seems so easy, but we know that it really isn't! We've equated strength with activity & bluster & a boot-straps mindset. God wants the opposite from us. Quietness & trust - wow! That sounds lovely!
Isaiah 35:3-4 - Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
The previous chapter is a whole lot of judgement. But this one is full of promise. (I wrote about Hebrews 12 which quotes this passage in this post!)
Isaiah 40:26, 29, 31 - Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
This chapter is one of comfort - "Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God." (v.1) And it is also a meditation & testimony of God's might. Those 2 things go hand-in-hand for me. I am comforted & can rest because of the greatness of my loving God. He graciously lends us His strength as we wait on Him.
Isaiah 45:24 - Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him.
God Himself is speaking here & declaring that He alone is God. "There is no other," He says in verse 22.
Isaiah 49:4-5 - But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength.
These are prophetic verses regarding the Messiah - Jesus Christ. He's called a "servant" multiple times throughout this section of Isaiah.
Jeremiah 16:19 - O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit."
Jeremiah is looking ahead to the ultimate restoration of Israel when the Lord comes to reign.
Jeremiah 17:5 - Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD."
Verses 5-8 gives us contrast between those who trust in man & those who trust in the Lord.
Jeremiah 50:33-34 - Thus says the LORD of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.
The destruction of the Babylonian empire that is prophesied in this chapter probably seemed like a long shot. The kingdom was too strong, but the Redeemer is stronger. Infinitely more. And He is strong today, too. In this moment, in this situation, in your life. Hold onto that truth, friend!
Ezekiel 34:16 - I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
Ezekiel prophesies against the shepherds of Israel who have led the people astray. Here, we see part of the prophecy that follows that regarding the sheep (the people of Israel). This picture of God as the Good Shepherd is echoed throughout Scripture.
Zechariah 10:12 - "I will make them strong in the LORD, and they shall walk in his name,” declares the LORD.
This verse looks ahead to the ultimate restoration of Israel when Jesus comes to reign.
Mark 12:30 - And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Jesus is the speaker here, and He is quoting from the shema. (Found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5) He is settling a dispute between religious leaders who were arguing over which commandment is the greatest.
Luke 21:36 - "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus' earthly ministry is winding down & He is giving the disciples some of the final instructions they will get before His arrest.
Romans 4:20 - No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
Abraham's faith in the promise of God is what justified him.
Romans 15:1 - We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
This is part of a much longer passage about stronger believers relating to weaker believers. Stronger believers definitely aren't told to wear their strength like a badge of honor or to lord it over the weaker ones. They are to walk in humility with their brothers, helping to bear their burdens.
1 Corinthians 1:27 - But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
Stop & take a minute to read this verse in context (mainly verses 26-31). What a beautiful reminder that we do not earn salvation because of anything we do or anything we possess! God can & does use anyone. Just look at the band of fishermen & other outcasts that formed His band of friends while He walked this earth. We do not need to be strong or eloquent or wise or wealthy or have an Instagram-worthy wardrobe. We just need Him.
1 Corinthians 4:10 - We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for their pride & arrogance. He's using some sarcasm in this passage, comparing the Apostles' ministry to the way the Corinthians live.
2 Corinthians 12:10 - For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul has been pleading with God to remove a "thorn" that plagues him. God's response is, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul then learns that he can boast of his weaknesses. He's not saying this in a prideful way. He means that it gives him greater capacity to boast in Christ & His power. As we saw in 1 Corinthians 1, God uses the weak things to bring the most glory to Himself. In our weakness, God is strong.
Ephesians 3:17-19 - So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
This is part of Paul's prayer on behalf of the Ephesian church. Ephesus was the center of worship for Artemis & home to a rather young congregation of new believers. For these reasons, Paul is praying for their spiritual growth & strength.
Ephesians 6:10 - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Still talking to these relatively new Christians, Paul encourages them to stand strong against the spiritual warfare that they will continue to face.
1 Timothy 1:12 - I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
Part of Paul's testimony of his conversion & ministry. Paul was an educated, well-connected man. Yet, he acknowledges that it is God's grace & strength that sustains him.
Hebrews 11:34 - quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
This verse is part of the "Hall of Faith" & lists some of the fantastic but very real events that happened in the lives of believers of old. I wrote a post from Hebrews 12 about running well in our weakest times & you can find it here!
1 Peter 4:11 - whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Peter gives encouragements to the believers about how to live within this world.
So many more verses that could be added to this list! I think overall, we can trace the idea of strength throughout the Bible.
The Bible is chock full of example after example of how God can use anyone to further the further the Gospel story. We don't have to be "super" Christians who have it all together.
In fact, when we acknowledge & speak about our weaknesses, we can actually point more people to our Heavenly Father.
I hope that when you are feeling weak you can go back to the promises & truths that we dug through together today.
Looking for the other posts in this series?
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