The way we think about it, careers, businesses and sports teams go from “strength to strength.” And usually they go from “strength to strength” because of hard work and perseverance.
But in Psalm 84 both those assumptions are challenged.
First of all, it is God’s people who go from “strength to strength.” (Psalm 84:7) Now isn’t that an attractive thought? We speak of impersonal things – like the stock market – going from strength to strength. But our personal experience is the exact opposite. In our “green salad days” we might be full of life and vitality. But isn’t it true that we go from “strength to weakness“? How can we go from strength to strength? Such a trajectory goes against everything we know in nature. Well, listen to the context…
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee… They go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:5-7)
Consider this example: A man tells you he is rich. You might expect that his riches are in his possession. But he says, no, his wealth is in his father’s bank account. What’s more, this money is earning interest, and one day it will come into his name. Right now he doesn’t have a penny to his name. Nonetheless, you could well say that his money is going ‘from wealth to wealth’.
So it is with strength. The Christian has no strength in themselves. Indeed we step out into the world looking just like our Lord. We turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, forgive our enemies and answer evil with blessing. It looks very weak. But actually we have entrusted our strength to a Lord who, by His cross and resurrection, knows how to turn such weakness into strength.
In all our weakness, our prayer is verse 9:
“Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine Anointed.”
Our strength is not in ourselves. We do not protect ourselves. But we have a Shield in heaven who is strong enough for all of us. Another name for Him is our Anointed – the Messiah. He is our protection and strength. So He is the One to whom we look. Just as the Father entrusts all things to Christ, so we entrust ourselves (our strength) to Him.
This is an investment that will pay eternal dividends.
“I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
And in the meantime:
“though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
The whole world follows the pattern of “strength to weakness,” because the whole world believes the lie of “strength in ourselves”. But the Christian is different. We know “strength in Christ.” And therefore we experience “strength to strength” – now and forever!