My shield is borne by God
Who delivers the upright in heart.
Shields are fascinating things. Often they’re portrayed and perceived as purely defensive objects, though throughout history they were used offensively to batter the enemy—and occasionally even honed with edges so sharp they could inflict lacerating wounds, to the point of decapitating an opponent!
Another thing about shields is that they’re heavy. Usually quite heavy. After all, they have to be tough enough to stop a projectile like an arrow or crossbow bolt, or halt the assault of a sword, mace, flail, etc. There were smaller, lighter shields, of course–some so much so that they could be worn strapped to the upper arm—but the risk of those was always that they guarded less territory and could be broken down more easily. Shields saw lots of additional use throughout history, like the fulcrum, famous in Byzantine, Roman, and Greek warfare for its offensive and defensive use when warriors locked their shields together to form a wall to protect against the enemy.
Clearly, the shield was practical for guarding one’s life and even advancing the assault, but it had the trade-off of sometimes being difficult to manage in a combat situation. Most warriors throughout history trained heartily in the ability to wield a weapon with one hand and guard or advance with a shield in the other. As someone who lacks a whole lot of upper-body strength, my arms quiver at just the thought of trying to wield both sword and shield in combat!
That’s one of the reasons I love this verse so much. To me, it’s mightily visual. Psalm 7 is all about the cry for vindication—for God to test the purity of the Psalmist’s heart and then rout those who plot against him. In this case, the man of God paints an eloquent image of a warrior-God in battle, bearing the shield…in other words, Yahweh Himself is the believer’s ultimate protection. He not only carries the shield, He is the shield, delivering the one whose heart was found upright in the testing.
What a powerful image this is! When we align our hearts with God’s, He bears the shield to defend us. No longer are we left juggling sword and shield, trying to fight for ourselves and block the enemy’s strikes; but we can have confidence that God is bearing the shield Himself, a defense and an offense, pushing back the wicked ones and keeping us from harm. Later on, this same Psalm tells what becomes of the unrepentant person, the one who is not upright in heart; this is the one who will fall into his own pit, hamstrung by the offspring of his own iniquity. Left to his own devices, he plots what he thinks is a good scheme, and instead meets his end.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to fall into that pit. I want to be upright in heart and for God to bear my shield, for His protection to be on my life and His strong arm to win the day. May He vindicate me and be with me on the battlefield—amen and amen!