The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart triumphs, And with my song I shall thank Him (Psalms 28:7).
"The Lord is my strength and shield." In his many Psalms, David was as honest and emotional as they come.
When his life was threatened and he was on the run, he turned his pain into poetry, crying out to God for deliverance. When he was overwhelmed by the goodness and faithfulness of God, he put pen to paper and proclaimed the wonders of his Creator.
David worshipped, expressed fear and frustration, and asked God for answers in times of doubt. And through it all, he was met with the never-ending love of a personal and purposeful God, who knew him, loved him, and was with him every day of his life.
In good times and bad, David found strength in God’s power and presence, hope in God’s promises, and courage in God’s provision and protection. The Lord was both his personal strength when his own strength failed and a shield against fear, doubt, and those who sought his life.
David’s declaration that “the LORD is my strength and my shield” is an encouragement to believers of all generations, for even today, the LORD provides strength to those who trust in Him, as He is a shield to those who take refuge in His presence.
What Does 'The Lord Is My Strength and Shield' Mean?
David held many positions of earthly power and authority in life. As a young man, he was the only one bold enough to face a giant in combat.
As a military leader and later a king, David was the kind of person we would expect to exude strength and confidence under pressure. Sometimes he did, but even David recognized the limits of his own strength.
Even as a giant-slayer, warrior, and king, David was not all-powerful or impervious to fear and doubt, weakness and failure, proving that human strength can be fragile and easily overcome.
Sickness, disease, and old age can weaken our physical strength and destroy our earthly bodies. Personal loss, tragedy, and sadness may steal our joy.
Fear of danger or difficulty may overwhelm our courage. Failure and defeat may shatter our confidence. Hurt and betrayal may ruin our trust in others.
Our sense of security can falter when our finances suffer, jobs are lost, or things don’t go the way we plan. Our hope in the future can fade when our current situation seems bleakest.
Even our ability to resist sin and temptation can be overcome in moments when we are most vulnerable and alone. David encountered all of this and more in life.
However, one thing he recognized was that when his strength failed; God’s remained the same.
As the psalmist wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalms 73:26).
The Apostle Paul would also conclude that “I would rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I will delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Sometimes it takes moments of weakness, defeat, and reaching the limits of our own strength to understand that when we are weakest, God is truly strong. His strength, like His love, is infinite and abundantly given to those who trust in Him (Psalms 147:5).
The question then becomes, who or what do we rely on?
Strength can be emotional, physical, mental, and even spiritual. Many look to finances, leaders, technology, earthly wisdom, experience, influence, or their own resources, talents, and abilities to see them through tough times. Unfortunately, all of these can and will fail us in time (Proverbs 11:28; Jeremiah 17:5; Psalms 20:7; Proverbs 28:26).
This is why David’s son Solomon wrote to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Furthermore, as it is written, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1-2).
Having faith in the power of God, remembering what God has done and wants to do in our life, and trusting in the promises found in His Word are the keys to finding true strength in life.
'The Lord Is My Strenght and Shield' How Is This Possible?
In David’s most famous Psalm, Psalms 23, the former shepherd wrote from experience in describing God as a shepherd who cares for His sheep. In referring to God as “his shield,” David was no doubt also writing from his experience as a soldier and military leader.
In ancient warfare, shields were designed to defend their users from things like arrows, spears, rocks, and swords. Of course, a shield wouldn’t be much good if it wasn’t also strong enough to withstand these weapons and attacks.
An umbrella, for example, might be sufficient to repel the rain, but not even the best-made umbrella would hold up against a steel-tipped arrow or spear, let alone a rock or sword. Not many soldiers would be very confident to hide behind such a flimsy shield either.
A shield of substance and strength was required to keep its user not only safe but confident to withstand wave after wave of attack.
As a soldier, David understood the value of a shield; and as a servant of God, he recognized the importance of firm and reliable faith.
In David’s life, God had been his shield, his protector, and his defender. Faith in God, therefore, was like the faith a soldier places in his greatest defensive weapon (Ephesians 6:16).
David had certainly survived many physical battles but also the battles that occur in his mind as he fought to overcome fear, doubt, betrayal, and temptation.
David didn’t have all the answers; he didn’t always have allies to turn to. There were times when he was confused and alone. But throughout his life, when the battles raged and his faith was tested, David turned to God as a stronghold, fortress, and shield.
I love you, Lord, my strength, for the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalms 18:1-2).
As someone who spent years on the run, hiding in caves, David understood that he would rather hide in the shadow of God’s love and strength than anyone or anything (Psalms 119:114; Psalms 115:11; Psalms 18:30).
David remembered God’s promises, trusted that God was with him, and believed that God would give him the strength to win the battle and the courage to weather the storms of life.
It was not David’s skill in battle, knowledge, influence, wealth, or physical abilities that made him strong. It was his faith in God that alone gave him the courage and strength to resist temptation, persist through all heartache, pain, and difficulty, and do all that God asked of him.
God never promised a smooth or painless life. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 18:33). He also said to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
What Does 'The Lord Is My Strenght and Shield' Mean for Us Today?
When God’s strength is prioritized above our own, we will never be disappointed or left defenseless.
God is always near, always strong, and always willing to shield those who trust in Him and call on His name. “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock” (Psalms 27:5).
When God is our strength and shield, we need not fear what tomorrow may bring for we know that God is with us, God is for us, and His plans for us are good. In God alone may we trust, and in His salvation may we forever rejoice.
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/matt_benoit
Joel Ryan is an LA-based children’s author, artist, professor, and speaker who is passionate about helping young writers unleash their creativity and discover the wonders of their Creator through storytelling and art. In his blog, Perspectives off the Page, he discusses all things story and the creative process.