A Shield, Not a Crutch

God is a sun, to light our life, and a shield to protect. Whether life is challenged by the terrors of night or the brazen wrongs of the day, God will enable us to ra’ah (intellectually observe) His salvation. If faith and truth are figurative to a shield, then trust is the handle by which we grasp hold of the promises that Love will not let go.

Psalm 91:4,14-16 (CSB)
4He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield…
14Because he has his heart set on Me,
I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name.
15When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
16I will satisfy him with a long life
and show
(ra’ah) him My salvation.

See, the shield of faith is not a crutch, it is a consecration.

A shield is not just for defense, but also for the offensive.
A shield is protective in two ways:

1. acts as a barrier to attacks/blows from an enemy (defensive).
2. allows pushing forward to advance in the midst of a battle, step-by- step. (offensive)

With a shield one is able to both withstand and forge ahead. A shield is a barrier to danger, while also a bolster for a parresia “free and fearless confidence.” ** See Hebrews 10:35-39.

Psalm 91:5 (CSB)
You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
the plague that stalks in the darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.

Ever experience nightmares or sleep terrors where fears seem to take a life of their own as the darkness magnifies the intensity of these panics? Have you ever felt targeted by someone, directly attacked, or verbally battered or bruised? Ever fear what might go wrong: be plagued by ill health, mental illness, or live with paralyzing anxieties? Do you fear a deadly disease that destroys strength and body?

It seems natural, almost right to fear such things. How could rest, comfort, and peace come in such moments to overcome the emotions or anticipation of harm that lingers?

Psalm 91:13 (CSB)
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the young lion and the serpent.

How can one walk in a specific way that avoids the ambush of the one who seeks to devour, and crush the one whose sway precedes a toxic strike?

Does Psalm 91:13 seems like a poetic nonsensical pep talk? A call for pseudo courage to face theories, but not realities of life? “A crutch,” they say of faith? Is faith just a means to cope with the hard times, unpleasant experiences, and mysteries of life?

Life is hard, and if not hard at a given moment, it does not stay smooth sailing. Troubles are at every corner. Dilemmas are at the side of every turn.  Problems are just waiting to ambush or strike again.

The hope to overcoming is found in the Gospel dressed shield. God’s shield of faith and truth is found in Jesus Christ. The Gospel shield’s ambition is the soul secured, not necessarily the removal of all unpleasant experiences (that is only Heaven’s promise). It is possible to hold on to the shield of faith and grow weary. We are pointed to the realization that this life may not allow us to see all the good being worked out (Philippians 1:6).

Just after the prophet Elijah had the mountain top experience of faith (defeating the prophets of Baal with fire, from the Lord, licking up the water on Mount Carmel), comes fear and depression. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is fleeing for his life, exhausted, terrified of the evil Queen Jezebel in hot pursuit, and so, he cries out to the Lord, “I have had enough…take my life…” (1 Kings 19:4). Then, God gives him rest, sends an angel to minister, gives more rest, and the ministering angel once again says, “Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you” (I Kings 19:7). “Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8). It was not until Elijah laid out his lament, his fears, and his assumptions before the presence of the Lord, that the Lord gave him instruction and showed him, that in fact he was not alone.

Elijah’s faith was not just to protect him, but to strengthen him to press on in the midst of both his victories and wilderness experiences of life.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (CSB)
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

Ephesians 6:10,13-17 (CSB)
…be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand…. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one…

Galations 6:7-9  (CSB)
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Matthew 10:39 (CSB)
Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of Me will find it.

It is true, without a shield one is left without protection.

Let’s look at the Hebrews 11 (the chapter of faith) from a shield perspective:

(v.3)
Shapes Worldview: to perceive by process of thought that the world was created by the word of God, from nothing into existence.

(v.4)
Offer a better sacrifice: to give up something highly valuable for the sake of something with greater value.

(v.5)
Pleases God: to commune and draw near to God.

(v.7)
Motivated by godly fear: to be prudent (showing care and thought for the future)

(v.8)
Obeys and sets out: to face the unknown.

(v.9, v.19)
Lead in thought: to consider the One who has promised faithful (to trust truth).

(v.15)
Desire a better place: to look forward to dwell in heaven with God.

(vs.19-22)
Blesses the next generation: to model worship, and educate concerning things to come.

(v.23, v.27)
Discerning of human edicts: to not be seized with alarm, or stay “frozen in fear.”

(v.25)
Delay gratification: to lay aside temptations and choose eternal rewards over temporary pleasures.

(v.30)
Overcome: to cause strongholds to fall and be laid to ruin.

(v.31)
Welcomes peace: to pursue living hospitably.

(v.33)
Faith’s benefits: conquered kingdoms
                               administered justice
                               obtain promises
                               shut the mouths of lions
                               quenched the raging of fire
                               escaped the edge of the sword
                               gained strength in weakness
                               mighty in battle
                               put foreign armies to flight
                               raised to life again.

(vs. 35-39)
Faith’s risks:       tortured
                              imprisoned
                              stoned
                              sawed in two
                              died by the sword
                              wandered about in sheepskins/goatskins
                              destitute
                              afflicted
                              mistreated
                              wandered in deserts, mountains
                              hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

(v. 38)
Either way God’s Word makes clear: “The world was not worthy of them.”

Faith enables one to see the God who redeems, the God who rescues, and the God who reigns forever.

Faith is not earthly, it is heavenly.
Faith is not weak-minded, it is an act of the mind.
Faith is not flippant, it is courageous.
Faith is a shield to protect and a weapon of the soul to face the gravities of this life; to rise above a world that seeks to deny eternal freedom.

To be given a shield is a call to action! Faith is a shield. What a blessed truth God gives us His steadfast faithfulness in the figurative use of the word, shield.

** (Greek parresia, Strong’s Concordance 3954)

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