“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm . . . . In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. . . .” – Ephesians 6:13, 16
Tennis is his game, and Champion is his name! That is my silent chant (never verbalized!) when I quietly—as per protocol—watch my teenaged grandson play competitive tennis. But surely, as his grandmother, I can be forgiven for being a little over-the-top with my silent “cheer chant.”
Actually, strategies in tennis have broad application. Our family’s winner of tennis tournaments stated in a newspaper interview that playing well requires mental strength, skill, motivation, and strategies to overcome opponents. I also have observed (he began playing tennis seriously as a seven-year-old) his coordination, commitment, discipline, and dogged persistence in returning the “fiery darts” of incoming tennis balls from opponents.
These similar skills are needed for wielding the shield of faith referenced in the key verses. The Apostle Paul counseled first-century Christians, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Paul based his spiritual warfare metaphor on the armor of soldiers of his day. This protective armor included a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword.
The Roman shield, specifically, could stop and extinguish burning arrows when they became embedded between the water-soaked leather exterior and the underlying sturdy wooden shield. Shields were fairly large and were held by gripping a leather strap on the back surface.
Thus, the Lord’s protection described in Psalm 91:4-5 can be visualized from an understanding of ancient shields. With God “you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day . . . .”
We read in Psalm 84:11 that “the Lord God is a sun and shield.” However, our shield in spiritual warfare also must engage our personal faith in God, as declared in 1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV). “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
We also are assured in 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) that vigilance protects us against the devil’s schemes as he roams the earth “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Thank you, God, for your powerful assurance in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV), “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” We have victory in Jesus, hallelujah! Amen.
Kay Henry is a columnist for The Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.