By Lana Christian
I’ve been thinking about strength a lot lately—partially because COVID stole part of mine. My legs scream after I hike for a half hour. My brain still slogs at times. As I recoup those losses, I continue a demanding day job writing for physicians and researchers … and burn midnight oil pursuing my faith-based writing career. I can’t push through either on my own strength.
That moved me to study Psalm 18, which opens with, “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
Yes, our strength should come from the Lord. But what did David really mean by that?
David chose a unique word for strength in Psalm 18:1. Chezeq. That’s the ONLY time the word appears in the Bible!
When I saw that, the word geek in me went into overdrive. Chezeq must mean something special. So I scoured several Bible dictionaries to dig into the definition.
Guess what they said?
Why would David pick that word?
The answer comes in the next verse: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
David uses a lot of words to unpack chezeq:
Horn of salvation
Equally important is how he intersperses physical descriptors of objects difficult to penetrate (rock, fortress) with spiritual descriptors of things only God can do (deliver, save).
David needed all those words to paint a complete picture of God’s strength. To describe what David had experienced personally.
When David wrote Psalm 18, he was Israel’s anointed but not-yet king. He needed more than a slingshot and good aim to rule Israel. Yet God had already imbued him with what he needed to succeed. David planted a flag with verse 2, saying he knew God was the source of all strength—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—so he could rely on God without question to get him through whatever life threw at him.
Pinning down strength
Mention strength in terms other than the physical and people empty boxes of pushpins attaching other words to it: grit, fortitude, mettle, stout-heartedness, valor, courage. All those apply to some extent. And there’s strength of character … a highly desirable trait.
Writers need all those attributes. Eugene Peterson’s classic, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, describes the modern pilgrimage of growing in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing. “A long obedience” also aptly describes the writing journey: a long obedience of work and preparation, in the hope that your efforts will bear fruit for the Lord.
Grit, fortitude, courage, and every other descriptor of strength pulse through our writing journey. We need God’s strength daily for that journey.
But cultivating that strength often takes us down unexpected paths.
David’s path to Israel’s throne was through fifteen years of survival training in the mountains. Joseph’s path to Egypt’s palace was through a prison. Abigail’s path to David’s side was through a racketeering first husband. Paul’s path to his fourth missionary journey led him to glory instead of Spain. But his prison epistles reached infinitely more people than he could have if he had reached his intended earthly destination.
We should expect the same. (Maybe not prison, but a winding path.)
What does strength mean to you? How can you put feet to Psalm 18? Do what David did:
- Rely on it (vs. 2)
- Avail yourself of it (vs. 3)
- Lean into it (vs. 31, 32, 35 36)
- Call upon in it for your battles (vs 34, 39)
- Praise God for it (vs. 46, 49)
- Enjoy its blessings (vs. 50)
May God richly bless you as you write, and may you go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7) as you do!Grit, fortitude, courage, and every other descriptor of strength saturates our writing journey. We need God’s strength daily for that journey. @LanaCwrites #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Lana Christian has a dual writing career in medicine and ministry. She won numerous APEX awards for the former and ACFW awards for the latter. She loves secret staircases, third-story windows, jazz, and chai tea. She believes hiking can solve most problems, but God can solve every problem. Visit her at www.lanachristian.com or Twitter: @LanaCwrites.