“But turned back and acted treacherously
like their fathers; They turned aside
like a treacherous bow.”
Psalm 78 is a marvelous account of God’s faithfulness in spite of the unfaithfulness of His people. It is a record of God’s steadfast patience in spite of an ungrateful and rebellious people.
Verse 57 paints a graphic picture of a backslider or one who has experienced the kindness of the Lord and yet turned aside to his wicked ways. The Psalmist likens such an individual to “a treacherous bow.”
The word “treacherous” can be understood to mean “deceitful” or “slack.” Consider three things about a treacherous bow and what it can teach us about one who has backslidden.
First, a treacherous bow lacks power. Some translations refer to a “treacherous” bow as a “slack” bow. The Amplified Bible refers to the bow as being “warped and deceitful” and unresponsive to the archer’s aim. A slack bow cannot properly discharge an arrow. An arrow discharged by a deceitful or slack bow will fall short of the target. Such an arrow has no penetrating power. Such is a believer who has tasted the kindness of the Lord and turned aside. He is powerless. He is impotent in the face of temptation and ineffective before the world. He fails to hit the target and falls short of the mark…and falling short of the mark is called sin.
Second, a treacherous bow lacks purpose. An archer has no use for a treacherous bow for several reasons. First, because it is unreliable. He cannot depend upon it to do what is expected or required. Second, because it is uncontrollable. An archer must be able to control his bow if it is to be of any use. Third, because it is unpredictable. An archer may aim at the target without the assurance that his arrow will hit the target. A treacherous bow is likely to send an arrow in any given direction without warning. Such is the believer who has turned aside from the Lord. He is unreliable. He cannot be counted on to do what is expected or required. He is uncontrollable. He will not allow the Holy Spirit to govern his life. He is unpredictable. He is likely to go in any direction without the Lord.
Third, a treacherous bow cannot please. A treacherous bow gives no pleasure. An archer gets no pleasure from using a slack bow because it is a defective and dangerous instrument. Such is the believer who has turned aside from the Lord. He gives no pleasure. God is not pleased with the course of such a man’s life. Such a man never feels that the Lord is pleased with him. And so we see that when we turn aside from the Lord we are without power, purpose, and give no pleasure.