But you, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3
At last David names in this verse the source of his hope - God is his shield!
What do you think of when you hear the word "shield?" Do you see a knight or Viking holding up a shield to deflect sword and spear? Or maybe you think of Klingons on a starship with shimmering energy fields to protect them.
In either case you would be considering the job of such tools - defensive devices to keep the enemy at a distance.
Natural as that is - the Biblical idea goes far beyond a mere barrier.
The Klingon word here is yoD. Like our English "shield" it is both a noun and a verb so you can say QayoD - I shield you, or yoD vIghaj - I have a shield.
The Hebrew word is magen (maw-gane') and appears 60 times in the Bible. It is what is called a mem formation noun, formed from adding the letter "mem" to the verb ganan (gaw-nan') (to hedge or protect). You may have heard this term in "Magen David," the Hebrew name for what is called "the Star of David" For years this has been the symbol of Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service, a Red Star of David, or in Hebrew ha-Magen David Adom.
This is, in fact, this verse's subject: David's shield. Not a means of mere physical protection, but the source of a real, life-giving relationship - God himself, the one who saves him.
And that living shield is not a tool, but a person who cares for us! Other Psalms elaborate on this shield:
Our soul has waited for the LORD. He is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
For the LORD God is a sun and a shield. The LORD will give grace and glory. He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly. (Psalm 84:11)
What constitutes "the shield" in your life? Is it money, your job or possessions? Do you count on strong locks or weapons to keep you safe? As king of Israel, David certainly had arms enough and wealth enough - yet, as this Psalm dramatizes, even he fled for his life in time of trouble. At that desperate time he remembered again - as we need to remember - that our real hope, our best shield is in the LORD.
The book of Proverbs reminds us:
"Every word of God is flawless. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him."
nuq yoDlIj? What is your shield? Better would be to say 'Iv yoDlI', who is your shield - for when it is the LORD, you will be shielded indeed!