The phrase, shield of faith, comes from Ephesians 6:16. It’s a part of the description of the “Whole armor of God.” It is accompanied by: the waist girded with truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Another way to list these characteristics as attributes would be: truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation and the Word of God. A couple of qualifying remarks from the surrounding text: Our strength doesn’t come from us or the suit of armor; our strength is to be placed in and sourced by the power of God’s might; we don’t (ultimately) wrestle against flesh and blood; once clad, we are to stand fast or firm; and finally, we are to pray.
One of the interesting phrases associated with the shield of faith is, “above all.” To be sure, every part of the “whole armor of God” is important, but why is the shield of faith prefaced with “above all?” Practically speaking, without faith the rest of the armor is of little use, if any. For instance, how is one saved? Isn’t it by grace through faith? What good is the Word of God to anyone personally unless by faith they receive it as such?
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you read verses 10-20 of Ephesians six, you’ll find that this definition of faith fits perfectly into the context, and that context being spiritual warfare. All day long the enemy shoots at us what this text describes as fiery darts. That’s why prayer is indispensable and inextricably linked to the armor of God and spiritual warfare.
What does a shield do? Some shields are made to deflect, some are made to absorb the projectiles of the enemy. In this case, they are “fiery” darts, intended, not only to kill the opponent (you and me), but to destroy us. It’s not enough for the enemy to kill, but he also wants to destroy, to annihilate his opponent. Now you know why the Apostle Paul started this section out with, “…be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
Left to ourselves, our own power and might, we are already doomed to fail. Often we rely on our own physical strength and intellect, our own resources and means by which to handle conflict and adversity. For the believer, reason should never dominate faith, faith should always precede reason. By way of illustration, do you remember the story of David and Goliath? David couldn’t understand how Goliath could stave off the entire army of Israel. When he finally got the chance to confront Goliath, the military leaders wanted to put him in their armor. David told them two things: the armor is too cumbersome, and he wasn’t yet worthy to where it.
Here’s the point, David was a boy/man of faith. He believed that the battle was the Lord’s and the victory was his/Israel’s. David slew Goliath standing in the strength of the Lord and in the power of His might evidenced when David said, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts….This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand….Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”” (I Samuel 17:45-47, exerts) Armed with a sling and some stones, did David carry a visible shield? No. His shield was his faith in the name of the Lord!