Saturday, 19 November 2016
…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16
Concerning the “whole armor of God,” Paul continues his list with the words “above all.” The words carry an ambiguity in them and could mean either “over all,” or “in addition to all.” The latter is the proper sense. He is not stating this as a matter of importance, but of “covering all.” In other words, just as a soldier covers himself with a shield, we are to take up “the shield of faith.”
This shield in Greek is a thureos. The word comes from thura, meaning “door.” This is because of its shape which was oblong, about 4 feet by 2 ½ feet. It was sometimes curved on the inner side so that one could almost completely enclose themselves in it during an incoming salvo. It was held with the left arm by straps affixed to the inside. Such a shield was usually made of a light wood with a brass rim around it. After that, several layers of skins would cover it. It was slightly curved, and it was kept smooth, being polished with oil so that arrows and darts would glance off of it. Though a different style of shield was used by Israel, the curved shape of their shields would also allow for complete coverage as is referred to in the 5th Psalm –
“For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12
As this shield covered all of the other armor, so “the shield of faith” is intended to cover all of the other “armor of God.” Its intent is that “you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
The thought of the shield being a part of the “armor of God” goes all the way back to the great man of faith, Abraham. In Genesis 15, the Lord states to him –
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1
Just a few verses later, Abraham’s declaration of righteousness based on his faith was announced. This same “shield of faith” is available to us. But, it should be noted that this is not the active faith which is often referred to in the Bible. It is almost a passive one. It is that of endurance. A shield is a defensive item. It is meant to protect from something. Thus it reflects the covering of God, just as was promised to Abraham. As the fiery darts come in, we can stand behind the promises of God and remain protected. These fiery darts are well described by David in the 120th Psalm –
“What shall be given to you,
Or what shall be done to you,
You false tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the warrior,
With coals of the broom tree!” Psalm 120:3, 4
The lies of the enemy, his verbal attacks through his workers of iniquity, the tempting words of a seductress, and the like are such fiery darts. They come in and we are to allow the Lord to shield us from them, letting them glance off by His protection. In turn, the 7th Psalm says that the Lord will then send back His fiery shafts of judgment –
“God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.” Psalm 7:11-13
We are to trust the Lord by relying on the promises of His word. In so doing, the darts coming in will not harm us, and the Lord will take care of those who so attack. Vincent’s Word Studies states the following concerning the use of this armor –
“Temptation is thus represented as impelled from a distance. Satan attacks by indirection – through good things from which no evil is suspected. There is a hint of its propagating power: one sin draws another in its track: the flame of the fire-tipped dart spreads. Temptation acts on susceptible material. Self-confidence is combustible. Faith, in doing away with dependence on self, takes away fuel for the dart. It creates sensitiveness to holy influences by which the power of temptation is neutralized. It enlists the direct aid of God.”
Life application: Let us exercise faith, just as those faithful of God in the past. Let us trust that what God offers is far better than whatever the devil can hurl in our direction. Temptations of sex, money, drugs, moral perversion of all kinds… these things need to be kept from us by God’s protective shield. Let us hide ourselves in the Lord through faith, and He will win the battle for us while keeping us safe from the enemy.
Lord God, Your word says that You have granted us a shield of faith by which we can enclose ourselves from the incoming fiery darts of the enemy. No matter what he throws at us, our faith in You can stand, if we simply continue to trust. The darts of enticement, the darts of temptation, the darts of boastfulness, pride, and haughtiness… these can be quenched if we hide ourselves in You as a shield. Help us in this Lord. Give us wisdom to secure Your word in our hearts, and to secure ourselves in the promises that word holds. Be our safe and sure covering, O God. Amen.