The Armor of God, Part 4 - Shield of Faith
“in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Ephesians 6:16 NASB1995
A soldier’s shield was essential equipment to stop arrows, darts and some sword strikes when engaged in battle. Paul likely envisioned an oblong shield similar to one in the photo, which is known as a Scutum; Roman legionnaires around the first century A.D. used round, oval and oblong shields made of various materials. Soldiers would move in a close formation known as a phalanx during engagements; the Scutum provided the best protection from flaming arrows and darts from the neck to the knees (or even below) of the front soldiers of the phalanx.
The armor of God that must be in place at all times is the belt (Truth), the breastplate (Righteousness) and shoes (Gospel of Peace). In addition to all of that, the shield is brought into our lives to deflect the arrows that come to us in battle with the enemy. David Guzik in the Blue Letter Bible Commentary on Ephesians describes the shield this way:
i. The shield Paul describes is not the small round one, but the large, oblong shield that could protect the whole body. In ancient warfare, these fiery darts were launched in great numbers at the beginning of an attack. The idea was not only to injure the enemy, but to shoot at him at all sides with a massive number of arrows, and thus to confuse and panic the enemy.
ii. “Even when such a missile was caught by the shield and did not penetrate to the body, says Livy, it caused panic, because it was thrown when well alight and its motion through the air made it blaze most fiercely, so that the soldier was tempted to get rid of his burning shield and expose himself to the enemy’s spear-thrusts. But the shield of faith not only catches the incendiary devices but extinguishes them.” (Bruce)
iii. Thoughts, feelings, imaginations, fears, and lies – all of these can be hurled at us by Satan as fiery darts. Faith turns them back.
Faith is the essential armament in the battle against the enemy, who wants us to abandon hope, abandon reason and abandon God when confronted by the trials and fears of this life. Keep the Faith firmly held like a shield between you and evil!
The next devotional will examine the Helmet of Salvation, in the first part of Ephesians 6:17.
Photo Credit: Yale University Art Gallery