“Who is he, this king of glory? It is Yahweh, strong and valiant, Yahweh valiant in battle.” – Psalm 24:8
I love stories of valor. Every time I watch The Lord of the Rings, as the credits begin to roll at the very end, life just has to stop for a moment. At that point my heart is filled to overflowing with this tangible, overwhelming love for the gallantry, the sacrificial love infused in everything I have just experienced. I am moved so deeply, I am inspired by the heroism of such believable characters.
What a beautiful story! I love that as an analogy of how moving a story our salvation history is. It is dramatic and filled with heroism. I want everyone to feel and know that as deeply as we feel from fictional stories, because this is a story which is captivating but life changing on an eternal level.
Recently I read Psalm 24 (quoted above) in the Jerusalem Bible and was blown away that it used the word “valiant” to describe God. In other versions it’s strong and mighty or something like that. But valiant. That struck such a chord with me! I began to feel all that God has done for me on such a new level, to see him in an even greater light. Because valor is so much greater than strength. It inspires me to my very core.
The other side of the inspiration behind this painting is that lately, I’ve been mentally putting on the armor of God each morning. Ephesians 6 says, “Grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics.” It’s made a tremendous difference in my life, but that’s another story! Anyway, one part of the armor that Paul says to take up is the Shield of Faith, “so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One.” I started thinking about my own call to valor in life, standing with God and against the enemy. I started to notice that all throughout the Bible, analogies about armor are used, but what especially struck me were the continuous descriptions of God himself as my shield. For instance:
“The Word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram! I am your shield and shall give you a great reward.” – Genesis 15:1
“The beloved of Yahweh dwells securely, the Most High shields all around him, and between his shoulders he dwells.” – Deuteronomy 33:12
“Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, O Victorious people? Yahweh is a shield that protects you and the sword that leads you to triumph. Your enemies will try to corrupt you, but you yourself will trample on their backs.” – Deuteronomy 33:29
“But you, Yahweh, the shield at my side, my glory, you hold my head high.” – Psalm 3:3
“My faithful love, my bastion, my citadel, my savior; I shelter behind him, my shield; he makes the peoples submit to me.” – Psalm 144:2
There’s lots more. I have done my best to narrow them down and that’s as far as I got.
But if God is our armor and shield, and we are to put on the armor of God…that means we are to put on God! What greater adventure, what more noble pursuit is there than that? He has given us such a glorious story to live, such greatness to strive for. And as our shield, he is there so close to help us so intimately! May we take up our shields, may we put on God, so that we may live the valor to which he has so trustingly called us.