I don’t remember the day, where we were going, or even why we were in the car. It was sunny, very sunny, and very hot, as it tends to be in August in Middle Tennessee. My nine year old asks from the back seat why that “silly” lady is walking under an umbrella on such bright day without any clouds in the sky. Without much thought, I answered her, stating that the lady was actually pretty smart and was using the umbrella as a shield from the sun’s bright rays.
As we continued on our way, the Holy Spirit once again brought to my mind this passage from Psalms:
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor – No good thing does he withhold from who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”Psalm 84:11-12 ESV
I have spent some time fleshing out the metaphor of God being a sun, but now I feel it is time to think through the second metaphor of this verse. “God is a shield.”
The idea of God being a source of protection is prolific throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. The Psalms has at least 21 other references of shields, most of them talking about God being a shield or shielding His people – to those who would seek refuge in Him (Ps. 18:30).
He exerts His protection over His people and His creation in ways we can easily recognize and in ways that we take for granted. His protection often -if not always- extends into ways we will never know this side of heaven. His protection is a conduit of His grace. We do nothing to earn His protection or can we ever even begin to deserve it. Yet, He offers it freely.
In Ephesians where Paul outlines the Armor of God, he designates the shield as “the shield of faith” that we are to take up in ALL circumstances to extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one (6:16 emphasis mine). It is a shield – the faith or belief that He is everything He has said He is and that He will do everything He said He will do. This is where I find my protection.
Sometimes, His protection is from literal, physical storms and other times, His protection sustains me through figurative squalls, whether they are emotional, mental, spiritual or a combination there of. Regardless, the battle can rage around me but I can persevere because God is a shield.
Captain America, also known as Steve Rogers and portrayed by Chris Evans in the Marvel movies, uses his shield both for protection and as weapon, often using it as a boomerang to take out bad guys, aliens and the like. According to the story line, it is made of the galaxy’s strongest metal, and as such, it is capable of doing all kinds of extraordinary things and withstanding almost any force used against the superhero. However, there is a bad guy who has a sword that destroy’s this shield. BUT – scripture tells that THE shield of faith can withstand all the attacks of Satan and should be used in all situations.
So, how do I do this? How do I use my shield? How do I find and feel His protection?
~ I cling to my faith, to what I know about my Shield -He is capable. He is able. He is good. He is mighty. He is strong. He is faithful. He is all I need.
~ I adhere to my faith by meditating and memorizing scriptures about His provision and protection.
~ I remember His faithfulness and how “shielding” He has been and is and will be. – how it has been evidenced in my own life and in the scriptures I base my faith on, including the one that started this whole contemplation and reflection.
That verse calls God a sun AND a shield. This combination is another example of God’s grace.
Sun, without protection, burns. It can damage fragile skin in ways that may not be evident for years or even decades to come. As my dermatologist exhorts, we should all be wearing sunscreen even on days that don’t appear sunny. We need a shield to protect us from the sun’s ultraviolet beams.
As the light from the sun exposes what I have done in sin and darkness, God provides His Son as a shield that under which I find forgiveness, redemption and restoration. Jesus bore my punishment, so I don’t have to fear the harmful, damning effects of being in the sun. He is holy and, in His holiness, His grace is displayed. He is a sun and shield.
Like the lady my daughter pointed out from the car, she had opened her umbrella to shield herself from the brunt of the sun as she walked across the hot, asphalt on a sweltering day. The simple, basic, black umbrella she carried was her shield.
My shield is far from simple or basic. My shield is my safe place. My shield is my God and what an amazing shield He is.
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