Growing up in the country, hitting targets was a thing. Alan Jackson’s song Chattahoochee refers to the pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight. John Prine referred to shooting and killing empty pop bottles in his song Paradise, I learned as a boy that there are several factors involved in hitting a target. Not only must you hold the weapon steady, but the sight must be properly set. The sight is what you look through to see the target. It is similar in playing the guitar. The strings must line up in two grooves at either end of the guitar. If for some strange reason they are not, then you will be out of tune with the other strings. On your car, frontend alignments are critical unless you want your tires to wear in the wrong places. I am learning that hearing aids must be calibrated properly to give you the optimal hearing experience. Broken instruments are even more notorious for missing the target.
Hosea writes, “They look everywhere except to heaven, to the Most High. They are like a crooked bow that always misses the mark.” (Hosea 7:16) Most people do not fail because they are stupid. They fail because they are aiming in the wrong direction and with wrong motives. You find things where you look. Someone loses their keys, and they say, “I have looked everywhere for those keys.” Obviously, they have not looked in the one place where the keys are. Or perhaps they tell you that the last time they remember having the keys was after they arrived home and used them to open the front door. Would you take the person back to the mall to look for the keys? If the arrow is always missing the mark, it is likely not the arrow’s fault. It is either the bow or the archer. (Of course, the arrow might be bowed.) It is certainly not the target’s fault. When we fail time after time to hit the bull’s eye, where do we look to find the reason? Too often today, we want to blame the person standing next to us. Maybe there is something wrong with your bow or where you are aiming. Did you ever think about that?
I didn’t finish Hosea 7:16. He gives us some more information about the crooked bow. “Their leaders will be killed by their enemies because of their insolence towards me. Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them.” What is the nature of the defect in their bow? The New Living Translation calls it “insolence.” It is from the Hebrew word za’am meaning “to froth at the mouth.” It means intense anger. This gives us perspective on missing the mark. Anger makes it more difficult. James says, “Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.” (James 1:20) You are less likely to hit God’s righteous target when you are unrighteously angry and frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog. It takes discipline to hit the mark. Before one can control the bow and arrow, one must control themselves. But why are these folks so mad at God? From my deep look at Hosea’s prophecy, the answer lies in God’s restraint. They do not want to be reigned in. They do not want to be told “No.” They are like the teenager who is told they cannot go out with their friends. They are immature. They are so focused on being popular, following trends, and being cool that anyone, God and prophets included, who tries to restrain them, provokes anger. I raised five teenagers who at various times were frothing at the mouth at me because I would not let them do what they wanted to do.
Extreme anger will break your bow. Broken bows will be worthless in hitting the target. If you take care of your bow, it will take care of you. But if you destroy it in your anger, you may go hungry when you have supper in what you think is an accurate sight.