4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
Psalm 91:4 (NKJV)
Welcome to my series in Psalm 91. You may have noticed that I have changed the Bible Version to New King James (NKJV). The reason is I find NKJV brings out the flavor in Psalm 91. Somehow, Psalm 91 tastes better in this version. Conventionally I prefer to use NLT because it is simple and direct. It is good for application.
With regards to various versions of the Bible, I have heard of Christians talking about which version is more accurate. Personally, I don’t think these folks know what they are talking about. What is accuracy of the Bible anyway? What are the implications for those who read inaccurate Bible? Do they sin more? Will they go to hell? Will I find myself in hell because I was convicted of reading a not-so-accurate Bible?
What will happen to my prayers if I read the not-so-accurate Bible? Suppose I read a version of the Bible that is only 90% accurate, will I only get 90% of my prayers answered? If I ask God for $1 billion, will God only give me $900 million because my Bible is 90% accurate?
The point I going to present here is understanding is more important than the so called “accuracy”. When we are able to understand the Bible, we will be able to put it to use and produce results. So the main criteria in choosing the right Bible version is your ability to understand them and not whether it is “accurate”. Which will you prefer? A not-so-accurate Bible, which you understand and apply its principles or a very accurate Bible that you don’t have a clue what it is talking about? The former will give you some result but the latter will produce nothing at all.
Let us move back to the psalm. In the first part of the verse, the writer compared God to a mother bird, which I suspect to be an eagle. An eagle protects its young with the feathers under its wings. Birds’ feathers are waterproof. A young bird under its mother’s feathers will be dry even when it rains. Not only that, it is safe from predators because mummy is around. This little bird does not have to wonder where is mummy. Mummy is above it, protecting it from every harm.
God wants us to see him the same way. He wants us to feel safe and assured when we are under his protection.
The second part of the verse says his truth shall be our shield and buckler. I know what is a shield but I don’t know what is a buckler. So I look up to Dictionary.com. This is what I get.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Buc”kler\, n. [OE. bocler, OF. bocler, F. bouclier, a shield with a boss, from OF. bocle, boucle, boss. See Buckle, n.]
1. A kind of shield, of various shapes and sizes, worn on one of the arms (usually the left) for protecting the front of the body.
Note: In the sword and buckler play of the Middle Ages in England, the buckler was a small shield, used, not to cover the body, but to stop or parry blows.
2. (Zo[“o]l.) (a) One of the large, bony, external plates found on many ganoid fishes. (b) The anterior segment of the shell of trilobites.
3. (Naut.) A block of wood or plate of iron made to fit a hawse hole, or the circular opening in a half-port, to prevent water from entering when the vessel pitches.
So buckler is basically a small shield worn at the arm to protect the warrior from a direct blow from his opponent. It is used in a direct sword-fight. Shield is to protect its user against arrows. They are basically bigger because no one can accurately predict where the arrows might hit. When the verse says his truth is our shield and buckler, it is saying that God’s truth can protect us from every form of attacks our enemies can launch at us.
In other words, God’s truth protects. What type of truth is that? Let us begin with exploring on what this truth cannot be. This truth cannot be the following:
1. Sometimes God wants to bankrupt you and make you poor to help you to learn humility.
2. Sometimes God infects you with a talking disease known as “The Thorn In The Flesh” to teach you his sufficient grace.
3. Sometimes God sends a car to knock you down and break your legs so that you can have time to rest and read the Bible.
4. Sometimes God will make you so poor that you starve to death so that you can go to heaven.
The above is not exhaustive but I hope you get the point. God is not a pervert. His truth protects and never harms. Let us move on to the real examples of his truth.
1. God’s truth keeps us safe even when we are in a dangerous environment.
2. God’s truth keeps us healthy even when we are in the middle of a plague.
3. God’s truth keeps us in peace even when the external situation is very chaotic.
4. God’s truth makes us rich even if we are in the middle of the worst recession.
This is what God’s truth is all about.
I would like to look deeper into the shield and buckler. They are protective gears for soldiers in the pre-gunpowder era. Their role was to protect the soldier from harm. However, no one can win wars with only shields and bucklers alone. You need to get offensive.
Think about this. You enemy is swinging his sword at you. You raise your buckler and block his sword. He withdraws his sword and makes his swing again. You block again. You are not hurt but you not getting anywhere. You are wearing your buckler in one hand. You need a sword in the other hand. When the enemy’s sword clashes with your buckler, he will need time to withdraw his sword to make another swing. This time gap is your opportunity to strike back. Once you kill the guy, you don’t have to keep blocking anymore. You have won.
The shield works the same way. When the enemy shoot arrow at you, you can hide behind you shield and be safe. However, you cannot spend the rest of life behind a shield. You have to fight back. You can either shoot back or hold your shield and move forward. When you get close enough to the enemy archers, you can slaughter them with your sword. So, you still need a sword.
The Romans have perfected this skill. They have this formation called The Tortoise. Roman soldiers carry huge shields. When the do the Tortoise, they arrange themselves into a rectangle, interlock their shields around and above them. From the outside you can only see a block of shields. As long as there is no gap in the shields, the soldiers inside the Tortoise are safe. They do not stand still. They move toward their enemy’s archers. Once they get close enough, the archers are history.
The lesson for us here is, the protection that we have from God is not the end. God does not want us to spend the rest of our lives blocking the enemies’ blow with our bucklers and hiding behind our shields. Bucklers and shields can keep us safe but we have to get offensive. We have to strike back in order to win. We have to keep improving.
A Christian life is not a defensive life. It is offensive. If the enemy (Satan) strikes us, we strike back. If Satan tries to give us sickness, we get better health. If Satan tries to make us poor, we get even richer. We create the opposite on what the devil is attacking. This is not the time to be passive, roll over and play dead.
This is war. We are called to battle and we are destined to win. Are you ready for it?