Psalms 3 is a Psalm of David, written about his flight from his son Absalom, who was seeking to overthrow him as king of Israel, as written in 2 Samuel. Absalom was a handsome and charming manipulator, and through his cunning, we are told in 2 Samuel 15:7, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. He contrived a plot to get the people of Israel on his side, form a coup and overthrow his father. David discovers the plot against him and gathers his people and flees the city. It was about David’s flight and Absalom’s pursuit of him that the short chapter of Psalms 3 was written.
1 O LORD, o how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah. 3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4 I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
For today’s purpose, I’d like to focus on the first part of verse 3. For reasons I will be writing about today, this particular verse jumped off the page: But you, O LORD, are a shield about me.
There are so many scriptures which talk about the Lord being a “shield”. Which ones come to mind?
2 Samuel 22:3
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge;
My savior, You save me from violence.
My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
Perhaps the most common one to us might be Psalms 28:7.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
David, being a mighty military leader, uses these military references often in his writing. I’m not sure what your mind depicts when you are reading the analogy of the Lord’s protection being that of a shield. My mind pictures a single, helmeted warrior, sword in hand, shield close to the chest. However, in verse 3, the wording that immediately caught my attention is “a shield about me”, or AROUND me.
How is one surrounded by a shield? What could David possibly mean and what could he be referencing?
Something instantly comes to my mind, as we, being history nerds, have recently been watching The History Channel series “Vikings”. ( The TV14 version! ) The word picture comes to life so vividly now that I am familiar with how shields were not only used in hand to hand combat, but as a near impenetrable fortress for an entire group of warriors. When the Vikings were facing an enemy, their leader would shout, “Shield wall!”, and immediately their shields were wielded to form a solid, turtle shell-like barricade from the enemy’s arrows, as pictured here:
Not only did the shields serve the group against incoming arrows, but also as protection from a full-on running charge from their foes. Watch this short clip from “Vikings” to see the fascinating use of the shield:
Isn’t that an amazing sight to see?? When I can see an actual portrayal of how the shield was used in battle, it makes it much easier to understand David saying that the Lord was a “shield about him”. God’s protection isn’t as a lone warrior facing the enemy one on one, but instead, is an entire shield wall surrounding us. No wonder David had no reason to fear. He trusted God completely to preserve him against the arrows and full onslaught attacks from the enemy. Can you imagine being able to sleep during such an attack, as the one in the video above? Yet David feels that much peace in the midst of his trial. He is unafraid.
This should being us great comfort during our own trials. When the enemy is attacking us, or our families or churches, we can have confidence that the Lord is battling for us. His protection surrounds us on all sides. Sometimes we can feel completely exposed and vulnerable, and the truth of His word can seem impossible to grasp when we are in the midst of the enemy’s relentless pursuit and unexpected ambushes.
Sometimes in my own life all I’ve been able to say to the Lord is “I trust you. I trust you”.
Verses 7 and 8 remind us that ultimately the battle belongs to the Lord, and that He alone is our rescuer. David cries out, “Save me, O my God!” Even a mighty warrior such as David knows he is no match alone for the enemy he faces. But he trusts in the one true God which no enemy can defeat.
We too are capable to trust Him in whatever we are facing. He is our strength and our protector. In our trials and of our souls. Our salvation is in Him. Satan cannot defeat what Christ has accomplished on the cross, and ultimately, he cannot overcome those who have been purchased. He may strike some hard blows, and a few arrows may penetrate our shield wall, but in the end we will stand and gain a crown. This is our reason not to cower in fear. He is the lifter of our heads. So, dear reader, be at peace behind the might of His powerful shield. He will not be overcome!