Welcome to Monday’s Zeph@10am with Jenny. I’m returning to David and his Psalms this week.
Here’s a question to get you thinking. If you had a shield, what would be on it?
It’s strange that an item that, by it’s very definition, is going to get battered by the weapons of the enemy – have nicks cut out of it, dents made in it, holes shot in it – is decorated at all. If I’d spent hours putting a fancy design on my shield, only to find it wreaked after a few hours of fighting, I think I’d feel just a bit down-heartened, and think to myself, “Do you know what, I might just paint it all one colour next time”. Yet, whenever we see pictures of shields, from whatever time period, and whatever shape, they are invariable decorated.
Really, a far more important question should be, “What is my shield made of? Is it up to the job of being battered for several hours of fighting? Is it strong? Does it protect me?”
I’m looking at Psalm 3 today. You might want to have a read of it now.
David’s life is one of real highs and lows. Psalm 3 is written about one of the lows. After getting himself right again with God, following his disastrous relationship with Bathsheba, David’s life seemed to be back on an even keel. That was until his children started to cause trouble. These troubles came to a head when his son, Absalom, tried to take the throne by subterfuge. To protect both himself and family, and the people of the city of Jerusalem, David chooses to leave the city and escape to the wilderness before Absalom arrives with his army. Psalm 3 reflects David’s thoughts as he is once again in hiding, in the wilderness.
Despite the situation, and the slightly ‘woe is me’ start to the psalm, there is a note of positivity that was sometimes missing from psalms I’ve commented on previously. Rather than David asking God to be his shield and protect him, there is a declaration of faith in Verse 3.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
You are my glory, the one who holds my head high”
If what your shield is made of is the most important thing, then I don’t think that you can get any better than a shield made from God Himself. Any man-made shield, whether made from metal, or solid oak, or other hard wood, is going to be limited in how well it can protect you. Eventually the weapons of the enemy will damage it to the point of being useless. And even if you work with other people to create a shield wall, there will always be a weak point. There will always be a small gap where you are vulnerable.
However, God’s shield has none of those vulnerabilities. In fact David says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me”. God’s shield wall encompasses us all the way around. No wonder David was also able to say, in verse 5, “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety”. No sleepless nights for David.
David also says, “You are my glory, the one who holds my head high”.
I don’t know enough about military history to know whether shield decorations always reflected who you were, or who you fought for – your tribe or leader. My experience of re-enactment events suggests that at least on some occasions, the design on your shield denoted your loyalties. Men went into battle proudly declaring that loyalty, showing where they placed their trust, by the design on their shield. Whatever design they chose, it declared to the other side, “This is who I fight for. This is who I believe in”.
In David’s case that was God. It was God Himself that was emblazoned on his shield. He was proud to stand in the battles of life, knowing who he fought for.
The shield analogy is less familiar to us now. I can’t think of any time when I’ve left the house, and thought, “Right, have I got everything? Handbag… keys…. shield….. mobile….? There have been lots of times, however, when I’ve thought, “I’d better take an umbrella”. Well, God is an umbrella around me. With Him, I can walk through the storms of life and even my feet won’t get wet.
But that’s the thing with umbrellas – and shields. The umbrella doesn’t stop the rain from bouncing down. The shield doesn’t stop the battle from happening. They do protect you from the worst impacts. And that’s the same with God. He doesn’t always stop the storm or stop the battle, but He is with us in them, and protects us.
Have a listen, and as you do, ask God to be your shield with whatever is troubling you today.
A shield isn’t just something to crouch and hide behind, in fear, but the thing that gives you the confidence to step out to face whatever the day may bring. May your Mondays not be filled with too many enemies, but lots of friends and fun. Have a good week!