Thirty Days in Psalm 91 for Busy Mamas, Day 20: Shield

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Think about the two main metaphors for God that we’ve seen in Psalm 91. He is a fortress, high on a hill, strong, impenetrable, a refuge to run to when threatened. But He’s also a bird, covering its young with its feathers, tender and protective.

Timothy Keller, in Songs of Jesus, observes, “It is on the cross where we see the absolute righteous power and the tender, sacrificial love of God combine and shine forth brilliantly, both equally fulfilled.”

Assignment: Pray for understanding and a deepening love for God as you grow to know Him better while you study.

  • Go to Blue Letter Bible and search on Psalm 91. Read the entire psalm, reciting as much as you can for memory. Think of God covering you with His wings as you read the rest of the psalm. Does this change your understanding of it at all?
  • Now we’re going to start our study with the last word of verse 4. What is a buckler?

The interlinear doesn’t really help us understand this particular word. So we’re going to look at different translations of verse 4 to help us zero in on a proper understanding of the word.

  • Go to the “Tools” menu and click the orange “Bibles” button. This will show us verse 4 in more than a dozen different translations. (App users, click on the verse and then on “Translation Comparison.”)
  • Read and compare the translation of verse 4 in KJV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, ESV, NASB, and NET. Pay special attention to that last word, buckler, and how it is translated. Record the different translations in your notebook.
  • You may need to look up bulwark and rampart in an English dictionary next. (I did.) Record the definition of these words in your notebook or in the margin of your Bible.
  • Now scroll to the top of this list of translated verses and click on the blue “Interlinear” button again. (App users, click the middle arrow in the top right corner, and then click “Interlinear/Concordance.”)
  • This time, click on the phrase, shall be thy shield.
  • Look specifically at the information under Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee LexiconWhich definition does Gesenius link to Psalm 91:4? How does he describe this shield? This is speaking of a large shield, something like a large, curved door that protects most of the soldier’s body from harm.If soldiers stood side-by-side with these large shields, they could create a wall of protection around them as they advanced in battle.

The ramparts or bulwark also surround him, keeping the enemy from gaining entrance into the fortress. So the soldier is doubly protected, first with thick walls thwarting the enemy’s entrance into the fortress, and then, with a large shield that protects almost all of his body.

  • What is it that acts as a shield and bulwark in our lives as believers? Let’s return to the interlinear for verse 4 and click on the phrase, his truth.
  • Read and take notes on the first section of “Outline of Biblical Usage.”
  • Then take notes on the “Strong’s Definitions” section.

This word isn’t just speaking of truth. It is speaking of the truth of what God has said. It speaks of His faithfulness to what He has promised. God has made many promises to us. He made promises to Abraham and to his descendants. Believing God is faithful can give us great courage and strength. He’s always going to be with us in trouble and work all things out for our ultimate good. His faithfulness is wrapped around us like a shield and hedges us in like the thick, high walls of a fortress, but we can still sit in the middle of that fortress reacting in fear if we don’t open our eyes and acknowledge that we are indeed protected.

Believing God is faithful and resting in that truth is part of dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and abiding in His shadow. If we step out from that shelter and trust ourselves or something else more than we do God, we are subject to our own weak and foolish thoughts and emotions. We leave ourselves exposed to fears and worries, panic and discouragement.

  • Mediate on His faithfulness today and on your response to that faithfulness. How can His unfailing faithfulness to His word and promises be a protecting shield and wall around you today and in the days to come? Do you have your shield in your hand, ready to do combat with the enemies of your soul?

For your children:

  • Recite and read all of Psalm 91.
  • Then read Psalm 91:4.
  • Discuss the verse. How is God’s faithfulness like a shield and a tall wall around us? We’ve seen that God will protect us from the “snare of the fowler,” from deadly pestilence. He hides us under His feathers, like a bird hides its young.

He is faithful to do what He has said He will do. The fact that He keeps His promises is a wall of protection around us. It’s a shield that wraps around us, protecting us from temptation, discouragement, and danger.

  • Discuss the purpose of a shield. Also describe the large door-like shield that covered the front of the soldier’s body and curved around to protect his sides as well.
  • Pull out any toy shields you own, or make a project of creating a shield with cardboard. If you want to make this a more major project, create a sturdier shield with wood and a drawer handle. (Check out our Pinterest board for ideas, and for more Psalm 91-related ideas! There’s lots more to add, but we’ve got a start!)
  • Then act out some of the battles of the Old Testament with shields and swords (shortened pool noodles, blunt end sticks, light sabers, etc.). How do their shields protect them as they play?
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  1. Dear Pam,

    Thank you for this study. Trying to believe, but I’ve been so beaten, battered and storm tossed that I don’t have confidence when to believe what. Yes, I am saved. I do believe that.

    Among many battles right now, one is buying a house. 2 1/2 yrs ago we had a short sale on our house of 15 yrs. We had to move. Husband transferred. The only home our kids had known. Our oldest two have severe autism. We’ve been renting for past two and a half years. Moved 3 times. Autistic kids, technically adults, don’t do well with moving…. Understatement!!!!!
    Currently in negotiations for house. Keep hoping and asking God if it isn’t the right place, to please get us out or stop it somehow. Dont want to end up in same situation as our last house. Want to know this is of him. People just keep taking advantage of us at every turn. Can I trust him to answer that even if I’m not perfect in my heart. Having 8 children and the oldest two with severe autism leaves lots of room for stressful days that stretch into nights that flow right into the next day and….That verse that says if you are in sin he will not hear you always defeats me. How can anyone have confidence that he will hear ?
    How does one approach him without always feeling that you are so terrible and not worthy of anything, yet we are supposed to be joyful?
    …So frustrated!!!!

    Thank you for your time.

    • I’m praying for you. I’m focusing more on your statement about God not listening to sinners.
      If you are saved by the atoning work of Jesus on the cross rather than believing you have done anything to deserve salvation, then you are saved. The blood of Jesus has covered all your sins. You are a child of God. With that being said, this is a great list of Bible truths that would be good for you to read daily (ours is laminated and hangs in our shower.)

      Read it and believe it. It might also be good to read the first three chapters of Ephesians. I know from experience that Satan is a pro at lying. Knowing who you are in Christ will help you know what is from God and what is from the enemy. There is no denying you have a lot on your plate. Someone once told me to envision God on his throne and in front of that throne is a line. Take all your problems to that line and hand it over to God. If you are like me, you may have to do it multiple times before you stop taking it back. In my experiences with life I’ve learned we are to be 100% dependent on God. He knows you can’t handle this stuff but He can. We were never meant to do it on our own.

    • Dear StormTossed, You and are in the perfect place to exercise faith. I have health issues I deal with daily and am very often in pain from one issue or another and it is so easy for me to doubt things like Psalm 91. But, suffering (“having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have” -Elisabeth Eliott) is the place where the will of God intercepts our self. This is our cross, the means God uses to chip away at that which is not pleasing in His sight since His desire/goal is to conform us to the image of His Son. Our fight in the midst of all this is the fight of faith. Am I going to trust Him, that He is who He says He is and that He does all that He says He will do despite all evidence to the contrary, or am I not? By faith, I must hang on to the Truth that He is my refuge and my fortress in the midst of all the chaos that the world tosses my way. By faith, I must rely on Him who will not let me go, Who promises to be with me in the midst of the struggle and Who promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I, too, have had a hard time with my feelings when I try to pray, But I must focus on Him and what He has done and promised instead of focusing on how bad I am and I KNOW how bad I am. He promised that He will listen, He will hear, and He will act on behalf of those who wait for Him. He has chosen and redeemed me because of who He is and not who I am. He knows the very worst about me, but is faithful to me anyway. Yes, circumstances are not always what we would have wanted in life, but they are the perfect vehicle for God to show us who He is in ways He could not show us in any other way. When we accept what He has given or not given and thank Him in the midst our eyes become focused on Him and the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

    • First, Storm Tossed, remember that as a believer and child of God, you are invited to go boldly before the God’s throne with your requests. [Heb 4:14-16 ESV] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

      You are in Christ. His righteousness, not yours, has purchased you the right to stand, accepted, before the Father. And that is great cause for joy! We don’t have to earn God’s favor; we get to rejoice in it, and that should lead us to want to please and obey Him. We also have a Savior and brother who has experienced earthly life with all its trials and temptations, but without sinning. He knows our weaknesses and intercedes with the Father on our behalf.

      Like Jennifer has already said, God uses our suffering to make us more like Jesus. I had a pastor once encourage me, in a time of great discouragement and confusion, to look at my trials as a way of sharing in Christ’s sufferings. First, that is a great privilege. But mostly, it helped me put my trials into perspective. I will never suffer like Jesus did.

      But the sufferings we do experience do conform us to Christ’s image, and they test us, to see if we are going to truly trust Him as the one who is in control and who does all things well, even if our story would be completely different if we had a chance to write it.

      He’s helping us learn to trust Him, which is such a central message of Psalm 91. He’s our refuge and our fortress. He’s the mother hen calling us to hide beneath His wings. He’s our shield. If we believe this and rest in these truths, we won’t need to fear. Even if the circumstances of our earthly life are never what we would have chosen, we will ultimately be the victors, trampling the lion and the serpent underfoot. God has chosen to be with us IN trouble; He hasn’t promised that we would have no troubles.

      You ask if you can trust Him, even if you’re not perfect in your heart. Most definitely! He sent His Son to die for you, because you’re NOT perfect in heart. A God who loves us enough to do that, is certainly worthy of our trust. <3