For You bless the godly, O Lord;
You surround them with Your shield of love.
Psalm 5:12 (NLT)
Have you ever come across a verse or concept in Scripture that just sticks with you—and maybe you’re not even sure why? This is what happened weeks ago after reading the verse above. I have always believed that the Lord blesses those who strive to follow Him, but what on earth did the psalmist mean by a shield of love? The two terms don’t seem to make sense together, especially in today’s modern world.
Then I got to thinking about the author of this psalm. David had been a shepherd boy early in his youth, yet he was elevated to warrior status with one act of exceptional bravery when he defeated the giant Goliath (see I Samuel 17:32-51). As time passed, his father-in-law, King Saul, turned against him—so David became a soldier-at-large with his band of men. Perhaps because of such life-threatening experiences, we find David penning these plaintive lines:
O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but You. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly.
Like us, David no doubt dealt with the ordinary ups and downs of life. And, as we’ve seen, he had seasons of extreme stress and uncertainty. But David lived in very different times than we do today. A sword and shield were everyday tools in his battle for survival. These instruments of protection for himself, his family, and his fellow fugitives were not only familiar but also seemed fitting to explain his insights about God’s love. For David, the Lord didn’t provide a soft, fuzzy kind of love. It didn’t come with a Hallmark card or box of chocolates. No, to this seasoned soldier, the love of the Lord seemed as real as his ever-present shield—capable of providing confidence as well as protection, even in the darkest hours of life’s journey.
While we may find it hard to imagine hiding out from enemy forces or facing armies like David did, we certainly can relate with other frustrations he expressed in Psalm 5: “For they cannot speak one truthful word. Their hearts are filled to the brim with wickedness. Their suggestions are full of the stench of sin and death. Their tongues are filled with flatteries to gain their wicked ends” (verse 9, The Living Bible). It appears David also experienced the pain of dealing with deceitful people and the impact of sin in a fallen world.
Take a few minutes to consider similar feelings you may be experiencing. Are you struggling with frustrating situations, unfriendly forces, or even fear? What problems are you facing right now that seem insurmountable? Here are a few dilemmas some of our friends and family members are battling with:
· A drug-addicted child
· An aging parent whose health is failing
· Chronic back pain that medication isn’t relieving
· Strained relationships with siblings
· Income that’s reduced while expenses continue to rise
· A business partner who didn’t keep his promises
And this list could go on and on. Times may change, but the problems of living really don’t vary that much from millennia to millennia.
Perhaps that’s why the “shield of love” concept has stuck with me. I like the idea of God’s love encompassing me, shielding me and those I care about from negative experiences that bombard us each day. In addition, I appreciate David’s plea to the Lord as he closed out this captivating psalm: “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy” (verse 11).
Oh, may this be true for you today! Whatever you are struggling with, ask God to help you with every aspect of it. Whoever may be a challenge in your personal or professional life, pray for wisdom about how to handle the situation. Not only will God give you the answers you need, but His presence and protection will also provide you much more joy in the days ahead.
Thought of the Month