As Creon returns to Thebes in Oedipus Rex, after having consulted with the oracle at Delphi, the Chorus uses the image of the archer to represent Apollo as the Delian Healer. Apollo is called "Delian" because he is identified with his shrine on the island of Delos. The oracle of Delphi Creon has visited acts as the medium for Apollo, translating the god's will to humankind.
The Chorus describes the helplessness and desperation the people feel against the plague that is killing not only the people of Thebes but also crops and livestock. They call on Apollo as the great archer to take out his golden bow and arrow and shoot down the plague. They ask him, first, to "hurl" the "flame of pain [the plague] far, far from Thebes." They represent to him how the whole younger generation is being wiped out by the epidemic sweeping the city.
They ask Apollo to drive back the god of death that has overtaken their city, to
whip your longbow's golden cord
showering arrows on our enemies.
The people are acknowledging they lack the means to fight the plague that is destroying them like an invading army. They have no choice but to turn to Apollo and other gods to use their supernatural weapons against the disease.