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The Armor of God for Women: Horns on the Helmet of Salvation

September 25, 2006

If you don’t understand the title, read the first two comments on “The Searchers” tab.

Here’s a sermon excerpt on  Luke 1:68-69 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,

Aside from the horns on the creatures in the book of Revelation, this is the only time in the New Testament that the word “horn” is used.  But a study of the word in the Old Testament yields some interesting results.  The Hebrew word for “horn” is qeren, so if your name is Karen, you should find this study even more engaging as you are learning the meaning of your name.  Actually, the name Karen is Danish, not Hebrew, but now that you’re a member of the New Israel, you can have a new meaning for your name.

So what does it mean?  What is a horn?  Well, there’s at least two kinds of horns.  There’s the horn that is on an animal, like a rhinoceros, or a bull, or a wild ox.  This kind of horn serves as a symbol of strength or victory in battle.  And there is the other kind of horn that is a musical instrument.  Zechariah seems to have the first kind of horn in mind when he says that God has raised up a horn of salvation for us, because this horn saves us from our enemies in verse 71.  David praised God in Psalm 18 as “my shield and the horn of my salvation”  in other words his defense (his shield) and his offense (his horn).  David calls God the horn, Zechariah calls Jesus the horn, and we see once again that Jesus is God.  

So Jesus is the horn of salvation.  Jesus is the one who slays our enemies.  More on who our enemies are in a minute, for now let’s keep thinking about the horn.  It’s a symbol of military strength and victory because animals use their horns in battle, but I think that the other use of a horn as a musical instrument is not totally absent from the meaning here.  After all, the two kinds of horns are really one and the same.   Back then they made the musical horn out of an animal horn.  You take the ram’s horn and the marrow is hollowed out and the hard bony exterior remains and you can blow through it and make music.  And then you can use this musical horn not only in praise at the temple, but you can use it as a military weapon to rally the troops. 

And remember that when you’re in the Lord’s army, praise itself is an offensive weapon.  When the Moabites and the Ammonites came up to war against King Jehoshaphat of Judah, King Jehoshaphat told the choir to march out in front of the army singing “Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever” and God caused the Moabites and Ammonites to turn against one another and Judah was saved.   Or more to the point, remember when Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumblin’ down?  When did the walls fall down?  When the priests made a long blast on the ram’s horn. 

This has been the image that has most inspired my devotion as I think about Jesus as the horn of my salvation.  I think of Joshua’s horn and I praise Jesus as the name on whom I can call and so shall I be saved from my enemies.   And not just saved from their attack, I can go on the offensive and attack them.  I can put to death my besetting sins by praising the name of Jesus because Jesus has already conquered my enemy and set me free from slavery to sin.

Perhaps Zechariah was thinking of deliverance from the Romans when he remembered the promise of God to saved them from their enemies, but perhaps he saw further.  For in verse 78 he speaks of giving knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.  And however much Zechariah understood, we know that the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:20-21  Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  Sin is the ultimate enemy of God’s people and Jesus came not only to be our defense from it but our offense against it. 

So the application is this:  Learn to wield worship as a weapon.  There is power in praising the name of the Lord who is the horn of your salvation to put to death the misdeeds of the body.  You’re already dead to sin, Jesus has already conquered your enemy, that’s why you can now put it to death.  Become what you are.  Appropriate your spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms and walk by the Spirit here on the earth.  Put on the armor and stand and fight.  Possess the promised land that’s already yours. 

Praise and worship is a practical way of doing this.  One of my favorite verses on worship is Psalm 89:15-16  Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.  They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness. 

This verse tells me that learning to worship is the key to rejoicing all day long.  But now this week I notice 2 new things about this verse.  First, the very next verse says, “For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.”  And second, the Hebrew word translated acclaim in the NIV is translated this way in the ESV “Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,”  and that word for festal shout is the same word used for the loud shout given by Joshua’s army after the priests blew the ram’s horn and the walls of Jericho came a tumblin’ down.  Blessed are those who have learned the war cry.  Worship is, at least in part, a war cry.  The Lord fights for us as we praise His name, and so shall we be saved from our enemies.



7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2006 10:20 pm

    I love the war cry and battle image. You probably have no reason to know this, but in college I was one of very few people in the fencing club (the first year I was the only student member!) So I’m really happy to have a helmet with horns and to weild an awesome sword knowing that while I may thrust and parry against Satan and sin now, I am victorious! / Thanks for giving me fodder for worship today!

  2. September 25, 2006 10:23 pm

    Oh, my little worshipful person dissolved into a single slash :-( it must have been blorkese for ‘delete the cute stuff to follow’

  3. September 25, 2006 10:46 pm

    Fencing? That’s awesome!! I always wanted to learn fencing. I think it’s in the “big ideas, but no S-ness to carry them out” pile along with the mandolin-playing and the knitting. Anyone want to kick my butt into doing these things?

  4. September 26, 2006 7:48 am

    Not to usurp Gorfchild’s role here, but I think you mean “no J-ness to carry them out”

    If this MBTI conversation is going to bleed over onto my blog, one of these days I’m going to have to step up to the plate and attempt a Biblical critique of Jungian psychology. It will be a nuanced evaluation, of course. I enjoy this type talk as much as anyone.

  5. September 26, 2006 1:25 pm

    I don’t know what I mean :) The S and J are so intertwined (and foreign to me) that I really don’t know what it is that causes people to carry through on their big ideas. But I know it’s got to be one of the two!

  6. Egana permalink
    September 28, 2006 12:56 pm

    I wanna see some of those fencing moves!

    I also really enjoy the battle imagry, but I go for more of the Fantasy / Folk Tale / Arthurian Legend / Battle Frenzy type stuff. Then I don’t have to be limited to what my actualy physical body can achieve. I can imagine I am jsut as graceful and joyful and deadly as can be, slaying sin and rejoicing in Christ as he leads his great battle host to ultimate victory.

    Bring it on, man! All in His Strength, by his Spirit, for our joy and His Glory!

  7. Koe permalink
    October 20, 2010 8:58 pm


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