Arrows are not in charge. They are tools at the disposal of the archer in whose possession they exist. They are to be content and amenable to the will of the archer. He who carries them constantly in his quiver decides when they are needed and the course they are to take. The arrow’s delight comes from being useful to the archer, ready for his bidding, slim and still in his directing hands.
I am often far from an amenable arrow in the quiver of the Lord. I tend to alternate between anxiously fretting in the quiver, questioning His decisions and trying to anticipate the archer’s next move.
As I have been studying Psalm 25 this week, archery has been on the forefront of my mind. The Psalm smacks of guidance and direction, as David is continually talking about His ways, His courses and His paths.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long…Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Psalm 25: 4-5 & 8-9.
Two Hebrew words particularly jumped out to me in my study: darek and yara. Darek, translated as lead in the above verses, can also be translated to aim or to conduct, to set a course. Yara, translated as direct in the verses, literally refers to an archer shooting an arrow.
As such, the Lord, who is both good and upright, is the ultimate archer. He will direct the course of action and send the appropriate arrow in the appropriate way at the appropriate time. Sounds simple, except that we, as his people, are not always amenable arrows.
The image that comes to mind is that of a handful of cartoonish and caricatured arrows and an infinitely wise and patient archer. The anxious arrow wears a constant face of worry, nervous that he has somehow missed his moment yet scared of the target. He constantly shouts queries from the quiver: “Have you forgotten me?”, “Are you sure I am ready?”, “What if I don’t fly straight?” and the likes.
The proud arrow wears a smug mug and tends to be a backseat driver. So certain of his readiness and wisdom, He tends to question the pace and position of the archer from whose hands he was fashioned and on whose back he rides: “Did you forget about that target over there?”, “I think you are headed the wrong way.” and “Don’t you need an arrow like me to do that job?”
The anticipatory arrow nearly jumps out of the quiver at the slightest sound of trouble or any motion from the archer. He stands atop the quiver, ready to jump in an self-sufficient attempt to launch himself. The anxious arrow grabs his cock feathers, keeping him safe from his preemptive moves. Like the frustrating child on the long trip to Disneyland, he constantly asks the archer the same question on repeat: “Now?”.
In Psalm 25, David typifies an amenable arrow. The entire psalm presupposes a posture of humility and teachability before the Lord. David beings by saying, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust” (verses 1-2). The word wait shows up three times the psalm and the words humble and fear show up twice.
An amenable arrow waits humbly in his quiver, with “eyes ever toward the Lord” (verse 15). He recognizes that he is a sinner, guilty before the Lord (verses 7, 8 and 11), and at the mercy of the archer; yet, he is confident in the character and the aim of the archer. He waits upon the archer’s initiative, ready to be aimed and shot in His prescribed ways. He seems content to be on the back of the archer, longing for “the friendship of the Lord” (verse 14).
While I long to be and to become an amenable arrow, I find my heart deeply grateful this morning that our Lord is both archer and arrow. He was willing to be an instrument in His own Father’s hands, shot from the safety, security and shalom of the Trinity. His task was to be sent to the cruel Cross. He did not resist, but in humility was directed that we might be restored to right relationship with God, returned to the quiver and transformed into amendable arrows, useful to the Master.