Saturday, August 27, 2016

Horn of Salvation

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; 
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

Rock.  Fortress. Deliverer. Refuge. Shield. Stronghold.

The implication of strength and safety in these words are clear. Life is a battle and our source of rest, protection and strength is in the Lord.

But what in the world does it mean that the Lord is the horn of my salvation?  Is this a cultural thing that the psalmist is referring to?  I did some research and found that horns were used in battle, as well, and that it could be a symbol of strength just like the other words. Most commentators, however, point to the emphasis of "salvation" in this descriptor and believe it is talking of the horns on the brazen altar, meaning that the Lord provided salvation through His sacrifice.

While this is true, I believe the meaning is actually deeper. If you understand the construction of the altar in the Temple, on the four corners there were horns. These horns had a specific purpose.  They secured the sacrifices. Live animals were brought to the altar and then their heads were bound to one of the horns to hold the animal in place for the slaughter. It's neck would be cut open and the blood would be caught in a bowl. Sometimes this blood was painted on the horns, other times it was sprinkled in various places (i.e.. on the mercy seat, over the people) and other times it was discarded. Vast gutter systems ran from the Temple, out a back wall and down a hill behind the Temple wall that directed the blood out of the city.  It has been said that at times of festivals, the blood flowed from the Temple into the Kidron Valley, which is the valley in between the Temple and the Mount of Olives. The horns, then, held the animal in place so that the sacrifice could be made.

Years ago there was a gal who I was witnessing to for a few years.She was my hair stylist and whenever I was with her, I tried to talk about what I was teaching in Bible study or what I was studying. One day I came into the salon and she was anxious to see me. She said she and her husband had gone to see "The Passion of Christ," which was in theaters at the time. They had so many questions after seeing that movie, but the main one was this - If Jesus was God, then when He was nailed to the cross and the people were mocking Him to come down, why didn't He come down?

I loved that question! And here's the answer: Because Jesus is the horn of my salvation. Now, of course, I didn't say it like that, but that is the truth. Jesus Himself SECURED the sacrifice. The nails didn't hold Jesus on that cross - Jesus held Jesus on that cross.

In John 10:17,18 Jesus says, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This commandment I received from My Father."  Jesus willingly laid down His live - He not only willingly went to the cross, but He held Himself there to finish what He had started.  If you look at Jesus' actions leading to the cross, we see that this is true:

  • He met the guards in the garden, rather than running and hiding (John 18:1-4)
  • He didn't defend Himself in the trials (I Peter 2:21-24)
  • He prayed for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34)
  • He lovingly put the needs of others before Himself in His final words (John 19;26,27)
The picture given to us in the descriptor "horn of my salvation" is the picture of what secures our salvation - what held our sacrifice in place.  It is a clear picture of Jesus.  He alone secured our salvation, He alone bore our penalty on the cross, He alone remained in place so that the sacrifice would be made.  

So here's an idea.  When you pray tonight and thank the Father for His love, care and provision for you, why not thank Jesus for being the horn of your salvation?  You understand what it means and it's a worthy description of our Savior, isn't it?

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