“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
In our text verse, “which doth so easily beset” is one Greek word meaning to be thwarted in every direction. This best can be illustrated as one who is surrounded on every side by a high wall that he cannot cross over. God has called us to do His work, but our own flesh and the wiles of the devil “surround” on every side to discourage that calling.
“Beset” in the Old Testament has much the same meaning. Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of our Lord on the cross: “Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round” (Psalm 22:12). This word “beset” means to “besiege.” When the Lord Jesus Christ was purchasing our salvation, the forces of Satan surrounded that cross in an effort to keep Him from doing the will of the Father.
If we read further in Hebrews 12, we find that Jesus Christ is indeed the example of how we must “run with patience the race that is set before us.” “For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (v.3).
The “laying aside” of every weight and the sin that keeps us from our Father’s will is not a gentle nudge. The terrible scene at the stoning of Stephen included the coats of the murderers being thrown at the feet of Saul. The writer used the same Greek word for this act as he did when he compelled us to lay aside every weight and sin that would cause us to lose sight of God’s purposes.
Psalm 139 also speaks of a “besetting,” but it is for our good and protection. “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me” (v.5). The God who calls us to His work will not leave us to mount the battle alone. CJH