The Roman shield, or scutum
, was made from bonded wood strips and covered with leather. The shield was not flat but semi-circular so that any missiles thrown at the soldier would be deflected to one side. Iron or brass rims fitted along the edges of the shield, and a leather strap fastened to the back. The shield had a metal projection in the center (the boss
) which was used to stun or wind an opponent, easing the soldier's subsequent strike with his sword. For this reason, the shield was both a defensive tool and an offensive weapon.
The Romans were feared for their effective military tactics and battle formations. One formation in particular was known as the "tortoise," so named because the soldiers' shields would protect the men like a shell protects a tortoise. The front row of soldiers held their shields in front of them, edge to edge; soldiers on the flanks held their shields to the side. Lastly, troops in the middle balanced their shields on their helmets. As long as the soldiers held together this way, the enemy would have trouble defeating them. Even the enemy's fiery darts (arrows tipped with a flammable liquid then set on fire) were ineffective against the Roman shields because the Romans drenched their leather-covered shields with water before going to battle.
Several times in the book of Psalms, David likened the protection of the Lord
to a shield. "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head"
(Psalm 3:3). David said that the Lord gave him the "shield of salvation"
(Psalm 18:35) and that the Lord was his "defense, fortress, rock, and deliverer"
(Psalm 7:10, 18:2). David also declared, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I
(Psalm 28:7; also see 33:20).
In Ephesians 6:16, the apostle Paul said that a Christian's shield was faith. Faith
is taking God at His word without having seen the visible evidence (see Hebrews 11:1). Thus, wielding the shield of faith involves holding fast to the word of the Lord and watching the Lord defend and fight for us. "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him"
(Proverbs 30:5). "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him"
(II Samuel 22:31).
The story of Abraham
is a lesson in faith. In Genesis 15:1, "The word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, 'Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward'."
God promised Abraham and his wife Sarah a son in their old age, saying that Abraham's descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky. Abraham believed the Lord, and his faith
counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Sometime after the promised son Isaac
was born, God tested Abraham and asked him to offer up his son as a burnt offering. The Bible tells us that Abraham proceeded to obey the Lord, knowing that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead (see Hebrews 11:19). Although Abraham didn't know how
God would resolve this difficult situation, he believed that God would keep His word
concerning Isaac. Sure enough, God provided a ram to sacrifice in Isaac's place.
Each of us will face difficult situations and temptations of the enemy at one time or another. The shield of faith is the protection God has provided to get us through these tests.
In temptation, the devil will try to make us believe the lie that sin
can provide a better life than God can. However, our shield of faith
will deflect that attack with the belief that God has provided all we need. In a difficult situation, the devil may use fear
(false evidence appearing real) to try and get our eyes off Jesus. But our shield of faith
will deflect that attack with the belief that nothing is too hard for the Lord (see Jeremiah 32:27).
If the devil can get us to doubt God, he gains temporary victory in our lives, for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin"
(Romans 14:23). However, when faced with authentic faith
, the powers of darkness will be overcome. This is why the apostle John could say, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith"
(I John 5:4).
The effectiveness of your shield of faith largely depends on your concept of God.
Why is this so? Because "without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him"
(Hebrews 11:6). If you are not convinced that God exists or that He rewards those who diligently seek Him, you will have difficulty putting your faith
in God. If you are not convinced that God knows better than you do or that He can still work miracles, you will probably buckle under the devil's fiery darts.
What is your concept of God? Do you perceive God as far and distant, or is He big, powerful, and directly involved in your life? The Scriptures reveal that God never changes: "For I am the LORD, I change not"
(Malachi 3:6), and, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"
(Hebrews 13:8). However, the enemy of your soul is out to attack and distort your perception of God in hopes of diminishing your trust in God
. The devil tries to create a credibility gap (a seeming difference) between what the Word of God says and your actual experience. Satan may point his accusing finger at God while planting doubts in your mind such as, "What if God has forgotten about you?"
Or, "If God really loved you, He wouldn't have allowed this."
If the doubts
(fiery darts) go unchecked, they will tear down your confidence in God and bring about worry,
uncertainty, fear, and unrest in your relationship with Him.
Instead of allowing life's circumstances to dictate your perception of God, allow God's Word to tell you the truth about Him.
For example, the Bible says, "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works"
(Psalm 145:17). And, "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire"
As you read and hear truth about God from His Word, your faith will increase
, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"
(Romans 10:17). Notice that last phrase, "hearing [comes] by the word of God." The Greek word for word
in this verse is rhema
, which denotes a specific utterance
for a specific situation. So, we can paraphrase: "hearing
from God comes by the rhema
of God." When a verse or passage in the Bible becomes alive to you for your specific situation, that is a rhema
, and that is hearing from God. When you hear from God, your faith is strengthened.
Many Christians are hungry to hear from God but don't know how; others are not convinced that God ever talks to them. Dear friend, if you want to hear from God
you must learn His language! God's ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Therefore, it is imperative that we fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God (read it, memorize it, sing it, meditate on it, fall asleep hearing it, etc.) so that we may learn the language of God
. Then, in any given situation, God's Word will come into our thoughts at the right moment, apply to our specific situation (a rhema
), and our faith in the Lord will increase.
Sadly, many who claim to be Christians do not know the God they worship (see John 4:22). They prefer to walk by sight and not by faith. However, "the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits"
(Daniel 11:32). We come to know God by receiving instruction from His Word. Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls"
By wielding the shield of faith in knowing Who our God is and what His Word says, we can overcome all the fiery darts of the wicked.
I Peter 1:6-7 says, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
Will your faith in God and His Word stand the test?