Article of the Month
BOWS and ARROWS
It is sometimes a puzzlement to those not used to
topical Bible study how Bible students arrive so
confidently at the symbolic meanings of certain Bible
This is an important consideration.
It is one thing simply to accept someone’s
interpreting of Bible symbolisms, and quite another
thing to establish those interpretations by Biblical
Exhaustive Topical Study
Since the late Nineteenth Century, it has been
possible to examine all scriptures relative to a
certain word usage.
We call this “Topical Bible Study.”
It involves searching the WHOLE BIBLE for
everything it says on one specific subject or word.
It is the only approach which keeps us from
imposing our own
personal ideas as to what any teaching really is.
This kind of study has been made possible by the
publication of such works as Strong’s Exhaustive
Concordance of the Bible.
This great book, and a number of others like it,
lists ALL of the words in the Bible, where they are
located, and the particular Hebrew or Greek words from
which our English translations are derived.
It is thus possible to have a 100% survey of
how the Bible uses every word.
Jesus, himself, established the concept of
exhaustive topical study.
When, after his resurrection, he was trying to
comfort and inform his disciples about all that recent
events truly meant, he quoted to them ALL of the
Scriptures relative to his final days.
We find this account in Luke 24:17-32.
The key verse (24:27) says:
“And beginning with Moses and will all
the prophets, he explained to them the
things concerning himself in all the
This sets the standard for us.
Jesus, by example, showed us that this was
the way to comprehend the consistency and the secrets of
It is not always a rapid or easy method of study.
But it is conclusive.
It will often destroy our previously-held
concepts; but that is something we want,
if we are sincere.
It is incumbent upon all who are sincere
disciples of Jesus to adopt this approach to the best of
This month’s article’s purpose is to give one
small (and perhaps insignificant) example of how this
kind of topical study reveals the meaning of one
We will not trouble the reader with the tedium
of examining all the applicable texts.
We simply will show the process a small
group of students recently used in order to discern and
establish the accurate interpretation of the Biblical
symbol of BOWS AND ARROWS.
Step number one was to consult a concordance
(and its online equivalent) to determine every place
“arrow,” and “arrows” appear in Scripture
It immediately was clear that sometimes
“bow” was not related to archery, but to rainbows!
So, those texts immediately were set aside.
It finally was decided only to consider texts
with “arrows” included.
After all, an “arrow” is the prime factor
in the duo of “bows and arrows.”
The bow is merely the device which launches the
arrows, themselves, become the primary symbolism.
There are about 59 texts containing “arrow” or
They are all in the Old Testament.
A few of them use different Hebrew words — a
factor which all good studies will take into
The students concluded, however, that they were
studying the primary word for genuine arrows.
We immediately eliminated the texts which were
clearly literal — where an “arrow” simply referred to an
offensive weapon being used by a man or an army.
We were trying to determine SYMBOLIC USAGE,
not just ordinary uses of the word.
As the study progressed from that point, we
could quickly have become discouraged since no verse
But we went on.
Then suddenly, there it was!
We found the texts which ACTUALLY DEFINE the
Psalm 64:3 says, “They aimed BITTER SPEECH as their
arrow to shoot from concealment at the blameless.”
We had our symbol clarified for us!
Arrows represent WORDS as offensive weapons.
Proverbs 25:18 strengthens this conclusion with
“Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who
bears false witness against his neighbor.”
When this symbolic meaning was then applied to
more obscure prophecies which contained “arrows,” those
passages became considerably clearer.
The childhood chant, “Sticks and stones may
break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” came to
Apparently the Scriptures do not concur with this
Words can and do harm us or change us.
The study also revealed that there seem to be
two sources for arrows.
The wicked use them (Psalm 11:2); but God also
uses them — not as evil, but as sharp messages of truths
which are designed to weaken an enemy.
This little study yielded many more subtle as
well as major clarifications regarding various prophetic
contexts in which the word “arrow” appears.
The conclusion is this:
We can search the Scriptures carefully and
completely, and we will find the meanings
which God, Himself, attaches to symbols, doctrines,
And we will feel confident because our
examination and our conclusions will rely on Him — not
on our own fallible reasonings.
The great majority of Biblical “mysteries” are
able to be solved by this topical-study approach which
Jesus, himself, instituted on the road to Emmaus.
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