“A SWORD hanging above my head”

Have you ever wondered where the term, “There is a sword hanging above my head” comes from?  In 400 B.C. the ancient city of Syracuse in Sicily was ruled by a famous king names Dionysius.  One of the prominent members of his court was called Damocles.  Damocles liked and desired everything that the king had and tried to please the king the best he could, hence, one day the king presented him with a magnificent banquet. Damocles was seated in the place of honor at the king’s right hand.  He was given a showering of gifts by the king’s abundance and the recognition of royalty.  Nothing was lacking and Damocles was making the most of it with his friends.  But in the midst of his great enjoyment Damocles looked up and saw that a naked sword was suspended directly above his head, held in place by a single hair.  Damocles knew that any false move could cause the sword to fall and slice him in two.

The king used this visual in trying to teach Damocles there were hazards that come with the responsibility of kingship and that many kings have lost their thrones as well as their heads merely because they made a few mishaps.  It is not the easiest thing in the world to be a king in any field.  Sterling W. Sills said that If one desires a high place in life, he should not only be prepared to pay the price but he must also learn to shoulder the responsibility;  It is one of the laws of existence that as the rewards of life get bigger, the size of the problems are also increased.   Hence “The higher up the mountain you go the harder the wind blows.”

The biggest job that anyone ever has in his life is that of building his own personal success, and that is pretty difficult unless we always keep our wits about us.  We can depend upon it that seen or unseen there are some swords hanging around over our heads held in place by some very fragile connections which can be easily broken.

So how do we bring down the Damoclean sword upon us?  Every sin is a Damoclean sword: complacency, personal defects getting the best of us, faith without works and dishonesty.  It is also still true that those that enjoy the greatest privileges, and sit in the places of greatest responsibility, must also be the most careful of mismoves.  Sodom and Gommorah brought fire and brimstone down from heaven upon themselves.  Sin always does that to nations and to individuals.  Life can be pretty cruel both here and hereafter to those who violate the laws of righteousness.  Whenever we violate the laws we had better be prepared to pay the penalties.  One of the disturbing things about life it that very few reach their goals in safety.  Jesus pointed this out when he said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.”  (Matt. 7:14).

To be like the King, we must stay on our toes, never quit our training and learn to hang on by keeping the rules.  This will enable us to endure till the end.  Let us not allow the Damoclean sword of failure to sieze upon us that we may loose the greatest of all prizes which is a permanent place in the eternal king row.

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