The Shield of Faith (= God?!)

Worship Meditation on the Spiritual Armor

You, O Lord, are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head. … The Lord is my Strength and my Shield.  In Him my heart trusts, and I am helped.  My heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him. … Behold our Shield, O God.  Look on the face of Your Anointed! … Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand vs. the schemes of the devil. … In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. … Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession … Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward. … My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. … Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. … Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. … Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world ~ our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? … Psalms 3:3; 28:7; 84:9; Eph. 6:11,16; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 10:35,38,39; 11:1,6; 1 John 5:4-5 (English Standard Version)

This semester we are introducing our Tuesday night Kids Clubbers to the spiritual armor which Jesus Christ purchased and then gives to His people, by grace … so that we can win against sin.  God gives these to us, and then we put them on, daily:  the Helmet of salvation, the Breastplate of righteousness, the Belt of truth, our feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, the Shield of faith, and the Sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).  “But what about prayer?!” some ask.  Prayer is the way we put on the armor pieces.

Consider many examples of inadequate shields which fail to do a good job because they are too small, or they are strangely shaped, or they are unwieldy, or they are soft and so easily pierced.  Compare these to effective shields (especially from ancient times):  A good shield is large enough to protect.  It has a good handle on the back.  It can be moved or wielded quickly in order to cover the exposed and weak areas of the soldier’s body.  Or it might be large enough to cover the body, going all around it!

Especially in a battle unit or in a company of soldiers, through organization and attentive listening to the commander, twenty or more soldiers with their shields can become like a many-plated turtle, protecting each other and especially the prince (or some other vital person or item) hiding safely in the middle of them.  Some shields were covered with leather, then soaked in water; this explains Paul’s specific reference to the shield of faith being able to extinguish the enemy’s flaming arrows or darts.

A shield and a breastplate are not redundant; though they perform similar functions, a shield can be moved to protect the weakness of the moment … but only if the soldier is awake and alert!  In the spiritual reality which this armor analogy pictures, weak areas are like our doubts, questions, anxieties, and immaturities.  A shield can be trusted if it proves itself to be solid and effective time after time.  It should be used as often as it is needed, as many times as you are being attacked.  But there is only one FIRST time to use the shield.

Faith is too often depicted as a one-use gift:  “I expressed faith in the Lord back when I was first saved.”  First faith is good and necessary:  “I will now trust in God.”  But if it is real faith, then God’s people will keep on trusting, believing, “faithing” … until there is no more need for faith.  Oh, when is that?!  When we are in heavenly glory, face-to-face with Jesus, and there are no more attacks, no more promises remaining which are not fulfilled, and where everything for which we have hoped is being seen.

There are many Bible accounts where “the shield of faith” is needed to protect the people of God in their weak moments:  when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac on an altar; when David went forward against the giant Goliath; when the faithful prophets (and later, apostles) were called by God to say hard but true things to angry audiences; when Peter was walking to Jesus on the water; when Jesus Himself was on the cross (experiencing His Father’s perfect wrath, yet committing His spirit into His Father’s hands).

In all of those examples and in your own particular story, the most impressive thing is not the human faith, but the faithfulness and the trustworthiness of God.  We can have faith in God-our-Shield because He is faithful, strong, and true.