16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Ephesians 6:16,
A shield is a shield, right?
Even though Paul was using the image of shield from his own day, we all know what a shield does.
But which shield did Paul mean, and why?
Scholars understand Paul was referring to the Scutum; the large, curved, rectangular shield.
One of the most effective manoeuvres used by the Roman army was a formation called the Tortoise. Soldiers would close ranks and encase themselves within the shell of their combined shields. This protected them simultaneously from frontal, lateral, and overhead assaults.
It’s interesting to note that this devastatingly efficient strategy required the group to work as one body. Each soldier depended on his neighbour using their own shield effectively.
Shield of Faith?
This time, rather than Isaiah, Paul was inspired by the Psalmist who wrote:
4 He will cover you with his feathers,Psalm 91:4
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
This is the only other time in Scripture faith is specifically referred to as a shield. And even after a cursory glance, it is easy to see why Paul borrowed this term. Psalm 91 is packed full of encouragement.
Psalm 91: A paraphrase
Whoever lives in God’s house is safe from … everything
So, I can trust Him.
I know He’s going to rescue me from my enemies,
And, He gives me respite from the world.
Because His faithfulness is rock solid,
I’ve got nothing to worry about … whatsoever … day or night.
Others might fall, but not me.
If I keep myself planted in His house nothing can get at me.
He’s got fearsome, warrior guards watching over me.
Things will get tricky,
But because I love Him and live in His house, God’s going to rescue me.
Because I am His child and walk with Him, God’s going to stick by me.
Because I glorify Him and listen to Him, God’s going to show me His salvation.My paraphrase of Psalm 91
Who wouldn’t want that kind of protection? That kind of relationship?
The Psalmist tells us that it’s God’s faithfulness that shields us. But what about our faith?
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.Hebrews 11:1-3
Faith is believing what we do not see. And, it’s a gift.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
Faith in … ?
When the Word was revealed, He came in person.
God’s revelation is personal.
We do not trust a what; we trust in a whom. God has extended the hand of invitation and challenged us to trust Him personally and commit to genuine, gritty, no-holes-barred relationship.
However, we don’t blindly accept His truth.
Our faith is rooted in knowledge, based on evidence, and shaped by experience.
Faith in the battle
We can never forget we are at war … hence the fortress, armour and fearsome-warrior guards. But it’s important to remember our struggle is against the …
- Father of lies
- Ruler of this world
Satan is an experienced and formidable adversary who knows us intimately.
But praise God, the Lord is our Shield! He invites us to know Him intimately as the …
- Alpha and Omega
- Lord of lords and King of Kings
- Victorious Saviour
- Miracle worker
- Promise Keeper
- Truth speaker
3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.2 Thessalonians 3:3
We can trust God is who He says He is, for He is faithful.
We are at war. But our warrior God has adorned us in His armour for the fight. We are encased in His …
- Belt of truth – our identity is in Him
- Breastplate of righteousness – His righteousness covers us
- Boots of peace – Jesus is our peace
- Faithfulness to shield – our faith is grounded in His faithfulness.
When attack comes, do we listen to the Father of Lies, or our Heavenly Father? When the flaming arrows seek to pierce our confidence, on whose promises will we stand?
- How does your gift of faith serve others?
- How do you practice and perfect the gift of faith?