Keep Calm and Read a Psalm 18:34-35:
“He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.”
One of my favorite superheroes (besides Chuck Norris) would have to be Marvel’s Captain America—the symbol of justice, freedom, and pure awesomeness. I’m not a comic book guy, but I did enjoy his recent movies. And I hear a new one just came out. I’ll be sure to see it…eventually (right now I’m spending too much time with my girlfriend. Her name is College).
For some strange reason, I’m reminded of good old Cap when I read Psalm 18:35. “the shield of Your salvation” makes me think of Captain America’s vibranium shield, decked out in the red, white, and blue (‘Merika!). Nothing can pierce that thing—not Red Skull, not Loki, not Hulk, not even Chuck Norris (careful now). When I first watched Captain America, I was wowed by Steve Rogers wielding that shield in one hand and a gun in the other. But come Avengers and I got a bit confused. It seems all Rogers had to fight with was this shield. Wait a minute. Aren’t shields supposed to be defensive weapons? But Cap’s throwing his around like a metal Frisbee, taking out aliens like he’s awesome or something. Honestly, I’ve never considered using a shield as an offensive weapon.
Then I heard that the Romans used their hefty shields as offensive weapons also. It was simple. Bludgeon the barbarian with your metal-rimmed shield, then come in with the kill with your short sword while he’s still seeing stars. What a concept. That means, when Paul’s listing off the Christian’s arsenal in Ephesians 6, he’s thinking of the Shield of Faith as more than a defensive weapon. Our faith quenches those fiery darts of the devil, but we can also use our faith on offense—to give a smack down to that sin.
What about David here in Psalm 18? How does he fit in with these soldiers? Well, he does seem to have been injected with some Super Soldier stuff when he bends a bronze bow in verse 34. But in verse 35, he’s pictured as being handed a shield by God. The Shield of Salvation. Is this different than the Shield of Faith? Well, “by grace are you saved THROUGH FAITH,” so they’re from the same Manufacturing Company. Made of the same vibranium. And God is pictured as his Shield-Bearer, like the kind all the ancient kings had go before them.
Shield-Bearer of Salvation. Salvation from what? Bam! God’s smashed through the ranks of lust. Crash! God’s crushed the warrior of worry. Crack! God’s taken care of the soldier of death. Smash! God’s bludgeoned the king of sin.
With what weapon? His Shield of Salvation. Your Salvation. It was a costly battle—it cost Him His own life, willingly laid down to defend and save you from your enemies. All while you watched on, focused on other things—yes, even cheering for the enemies he was defending you from! But He still kept fighting for you. Until the day was won, and the battle was over once and for all.
And now He hands you the trophy of victory freely—that Shield of Salvation. As you take it up, you notice something. The shield’s decorated. Not with red, white, and blue. But with two streaks of crimson blood—a Cross is inscribed on it. “How can I repay you for this?” He only asks that you rename it the Shield of Faith. And the only thing you can think to reply is “Thanks.”
The Shield of Faith is an offensive weapon.
-Matthew W., SC