Day 271: Strength in weakness

Psalm 107; Psalm 116; Psalm 118; 2 Corinthians 13

As we come to the end of 2 Corinthians, let’s consider a theme that has been prominent throughout both of Paul’s letters to Corinthian church.

The Corinthians were lured away from the gospel by their worldly culture. Whether it be by the world’s lax moral standards or by “impressive” false teachers, the Corinthians failed to grasp the paradox of God’s kingdom… True strength can only be found in weakness!

Consider this chart*: (I love charts!) *adapted from ESV Study Bible, Crossway

Verse Weakness Power (or strength)
1 Cor. 1:25 The weakness of God is stronger than man
1 Cor. 1:27 God chose what is weak to shame the strong
1 Cor. 2:3,5 in weakness and in fear but in the power of God
1 Cor. 15:43 sown in weakness raised in power
2 Cor. 12:9 I will boast…of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me
2 Cor. 13:3 not weak in dealing with you but … powerful among you
2 Cor. 13:4 he was crucified in weakness but lives by the power of God
2 Cor. 13:4 we also are weak in him but … live with him in the power of God
2 Cor. 13:9 we are glad when we are weak and you are strong

This chart illustrates the importance of the paradoxical relationship between strength and weakness. If you think back to the restored-exiles in Jerusalem, they surely grasped this concept of strength and weakness – considering that they had lost their nation and were subject to the whims of a foreign king … yet through God’s strength they persevered to re-build Jerusalem!

All three of today’s Psalms would have been meaningful to the restored exiles of Jerusalem as they speak of God “helping” or “rescuing” those in distress.

Psalm 118 is especially poignant because it describes a joyful celebration after God saved the people from “the nations” (Psalm 118:10). Many believe this Psalm could have been sung at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem recorded in Nehemiah 12 (Psalm 118:19-20).

The people definitely sung parts of this Psalm as Jesus entered Jerusalem hundreds of years later (Psalm 118:26; Luke 19:38). The people were celebrating what they thought was their future king entering Jerusalem to take his throne and overthrow the Roman government in order to return Israel to its former glory.

But Jesus was not coming in strength. He was coming in weakness. He was coming to die – not to conquer. He was coming to make the final sacrifice.

This is the way of God’s kingdom. Strength is found in humility, service, sacrifice and love. Strength is manifested through weakness.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation (Psalm 118:14).

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4 thoughts on “Day 271: Strength in weakness

  1. Kathryn, I have trouble with: “God chose what is weak” ,,, “to shame the strong” Then I read what you wrote, and I understand it more. Still… Can you help me a bit more with this? Thanks, if you can. :) Janis

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    • Well :) There are lots of different ways to answer your question, so I’ll do my best.

      First, “weak” and “strong” in this verse are defined from a worldly point of view. So, God chooses what the world thinks is weak and uses them to shame what the world thinks is strong.

      An example might be… using a child’s unconditional love to shame the callous heart of a hardened business executive. The child is weak, but the child’s godly character shames the “strong” man.

      Another way to think about it is to start with the idea that EVERYONE is weak, spiritually. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But we have to understand and accept our weakness in order to come to God for help.

      So… only those who know they are weak will turn to God and receive God’s strength. And God’s strength in a weak person will always outshine those who think they are strong (because they are either blind to their spiritual weakness or because they in a worldly position of strength). God’s strength manifested in a “weak” person will always shame the strength of the strongest person (without God’s strength).

      I hope that helps. And sorry if I wrote too much!

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      • You didn’t write too much. I’m just sorry you had to in order to get through my thick skull on this worldly meaning of being weak / strong. I’ve always had trouble with it in sermons, to the point of almost turning me away from hearing about being weak so much. I think I “get it” now, so I thank you for that. I’m going to copy what you said so I’ll have the words before me when I struggle with this. Many thanks!

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