“And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”” (2 Kings 13:18–19).
King Joash knew who to go to when the situation was dire. Elisha the prophet, though on his deathbed, was his only hope. With a flair for the dramatic, Elisha told him to shoot an arrow out the eastward window. “That arrow,” Elisha told him, “is the Lord’s arrow of victory over your enemy, Syria.”
Next, Elisha told Joash to shoot some arrows into the ground. Joash launched three and quit. Elisha grew angry. Hadn’t Joash seen how the first arrow represented a victory? Why would he stop shooting at three? Didn’t he want as much victory as possible? “You should have shot five or six times,” Elisha said to Joash.
Though difficult, we must see the connection between our private arrows and God’s public power in our lives. We want the victory, but we quit our daily devotional time. We want conversions, but we quit opening our mouths. We want a loved one to make a spiritual turn for the better, but we quit praying for them. We want a new habit, but we quit going to church. We want a spiritual revival, but we quit the work of disciple-making. Too often we forget, God's public victories often begin in our secret walk with Him.
It would have been hard for Joash to see the connection between the arrows he shot into the ground and victory on the battlefield, but God made it so. I want to allow God to show me the private obediences I must continue in. I will label these “keep striking” and trust God for the victory. I do not want to privately quit too early, for I believe God has public victory in store.