Scripture Shields

Our brother first wrote for the magazine for ‘Gleaners Corner’ in 1947. From that time he was a regular contributor In August 1997, due to a unexpected heart attack, and also a severe stroke experienced by his wife they took up residence at a nursing home in Abbotsham, Bideford. They are grateful to the Lord to be together. Our brother wrote this article some while ago, intending it to be his final contribution. We are glad to publish it as a tribute to his long and faithful service to the Lord. We shall remember Mr and Mrs. Lovering in prayer. Editor

Following the strife between Abram’s herdsmen and those of Lot, Lot chose the ‘well-watered plains’ toward Sodom. It was subsequent upon Abram’s rescue of Lot, and his refusal to accept as a reward from the king of Sodom ‘from a thread even to a shoe latchet’, that the Lord spoke to Abram saying, ‘Fear not Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward’, Gen. 15. 1. To the one who depends upon Him, God is all that he needs. He is a shield in times of conflict and the reward when the victory is won. It is well to beware of accepting privileges, positions and responsibilities which impose upon us an obligation to the world.

Numerous references to the shield occur in Scripture and four Hebrew words are translated ‘shield’ in the Authorised Version. There was the tsinnah which covered the whole body, and was sometimes carried by another man as in the case of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17. 7. The magen was a small round or octagonal shield used by Jews, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Assyrians and Egyptians, and was frequently covered with copper or gold, 1 Kgs 10. 16, 17; 14. 26, 27. The kidon used also of a dart or javelin, as in 1 Samuel 17. 45. The shelet (meaning uncertain), as perhaps used in decoration or display, as in 1 Kings 10. 17. We can learn useful lessons from the consideration of some shields of Scripture.

A Mark of Distinction

In contemporary culture, the shield often appears as a crest of town, college, school or regiment. Goliath was distinguished in that ‘one bearing a shield went before him’. We are reminded of ‘the shield of truth’ in Psalm 91. 4, ‘his truth shall be thy shield and buckler’. Truth should be the hallmark of the Christian at all times and in all circumstances. Truth should be evident, firstly, in -

His Walk

The words of the Lord concerning the priest under the Levitical covenant were, ‘the law of truth was in his mouth … he walked with me in truth and equity’, Mai. 2. 6. The apostle John wrote, ‘I greatly rejoiced in that 1 found thy children walking in truth’, 2 John 4, and again, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth’, 3 John 4. Surely this must be the greatest joy that any parent can experience. Secondly, in -

His Work

In Isaiah’s prophetic message concerning the Messiah’s mission he writes, Tor 1 the Lord love judgement I hate robbery for burnt-offering; I will direct their work in truth’, Isa. 61. 8. The Christian’s work should be marked by an uncompromising and transparent integrity, and this in a society so often guilty of ‘shady dealings’. Thirdly, truth should characterize the Christian in -

His Words

It is said that the strength of a lie is in the amount of truth it contains. We are reminded of Abram as he journeyed toward the south, Gen. 12. 6, 9, who, though his faith was equal to the ‘foe’, faltered when the ‘famine’ came, v. 10, and went down to Egypt, which was neither a safe nor a right step to take. This step resulted in Abram’s telling a half-truth to the king of Egypt, which was nothing more than an intentional falsehood. ‘Say’, said he, ‘thou art my sister, that it may be well with me’, Gen. 12. 13; cf. 20. 12. How this savours of the worldly diplomat! Better, as Paul writing to the Corinthian believers spoke all things in truth, 2 Cor. 7. 14. Finally, but not of less importance is the element of truth in -

His Worship

The Saviour’s answer to the Samaritan woman concerning worship was that all true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. Words alone and sincerity itself are not acceptable for those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth, John 4. 23, 24. We now consider the shield as-

A Means of Defence

An essential part of the Christian’s armour is the shield of faith, with which to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, Eph. 6. 16. This large ‘door-shield’ provided complete cover for the warrior. From the beginning it has been the devil’s strategy to challenge faith in God’s word, by appealing to man’s reason. Did he not say to Eve, God knows that when you eat of (the tree) your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods knowing good and evil, Gen. 3. It was because Cain’s offering was according to human reason and not of faith that God ‘did not look with favour upon him’, Gen. 4. 5. Without faith it is impossible to please God ‘for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’, Heb. 11. 6.

‘Where reason fails with all her powers,
There faith prevails and love adores’.

We note further that the shield was-

A Measure of Devotion

To lose the shield in battle was considered a disgrace, and with the Greeks a capital crime punished by death. On the death of Saul on Mount Gilboa the people were aroused to national mourning, ‘Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you … for there the shield of the mighty is viley cast away, the shield of Saul … not anointed with oil’, 2 Sam. 1. 21. Lacedaemonian mothers would excite the ambition of their sons by handing them their father’s shields, with the words, ‘this shield thy father always preserved, do thou preserve it also or perish’. It was the pride of the warrior to keep the shield bright, to cover it when not in use and to rub it with oil to protect it from the weather, Isa. 21. 5; 22. 6. It is the responsibility and privilege of every Christian to be loyal to their Lord and King. Finally, we observe that the shield was used as-

A Manner of Display

Shields were often associated with rewards for loyalty and bravery in battle. To Abram, God was his shield and exceeding great reward, Gen. 15. 1. In his description of the bride, Song of Sol. 4. 4, the Bridegroom says, ‘thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men’. Shields overlaid with gold were largely used for decorative purposes and for ostentatious display. Solomon employed them in this way, and in religious processions, 1 Kgs. 10. 16ff, as his father had previously done with his battle trophies, 2 Sam. 8. 7. In great cathedrals may be seen regimental banners, torn, battered and riddled with cannon fire. It is these marks of conflict that give them their beauty. The great apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians wrote, ‘I carry on my scarred body the marks of Jesus’, Gal. 6. 17 (paraphrase). On that day of reward, will our shields display the glorious marks of battle?

‘We rest on Thee’ - our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendour
Victors - we rest with Thee, through endless days.

(Edith Gilling Cherry)


Your Basket

Your Basket Is Empty