It is God’s faithfulness to His promises that is our shield. It is not just our faithfulness! God will be faithful to the promises He has made. When the enemy comes to whisper fearful or condemning thoughts in our mind, we can ward off his attack by saying, “My faith is strong because I know My God is faithful, and His faithfulness is my shield!”
How often I’ve heard people say,“I can’t dwell in the shelter of God. I mess up and fall short too many times. I feel guilty and unworthy.” God knows all about our weaknesses. That’s why He gave His Son. We can no more earn this protection, or deserve it, than we can earn or deserve our salvation. The main thing is—if we slip and fall, we must not stay down. Get up, repent and get back under that shield of protection. Thankfully this verse says it is His faithfulness, not ours, that is our shield.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.
–2 Timothy 2:13
We must not point to what we’ve done, or haven’t done. We must point to what Jesus has done for us. We dwell in His shelter by faith in God’s grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And faith is not hard. It is simply our response to what Jesus has already provided through His Blood. We cannot perform enough good deeds to keep ourselves in His shelter anymore than we can do enough to keep ourselves saved. We have to realize we dwell in His shelter, not in our own righteousness, but in the Righteousness of Jesus Christ.
For by His doing, you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness...
-1 Corinthians 1:30
There is a difference, however, between making an occasional mistake and staying in willful sin. Self-will and rebellion will keep us out of the secret place of protection because self-will is a wall we build between God and us.
Our daughter slipped and fell face down in the busiest 4-way intersection in our city. Embarrassment made her want to keep lying there so she didn’t have to look up and show her face to so many people who would know her in a small town. Yet, the worst thing she could have done was to lie there in that heavy traffic area. This is a humorous illustration of what it looks like when we fall spiritually. When you think of my daughter lying face down in the middle of the street, don’t ever forget that the worst thing you can do after you fall spiritually is fail to get up!
Psalm 91:4 expresses again God’s commitment and faithfulness to being our shield of protection. It is His faithfulness that gets us back on our feet and moving again. His unshakable faithfulness is a literal shield. I have this awesome mental picture of a huge shield in front of me, completely hiding me from the enemy. And, the shield is God Himself. His faithfulness to His promises guarantees us that His shield will remain forever steadfast and available, but whether or not we stay behind the protection of that shield is our choice.
God’s faithfulness is our bulwark. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, “a bulwark is a tower built along a city wall from which defenders shoot arrows and hurl large stones at the enemy.” Think about that! From that tower, God is faithful to point out the enemy so he can’t sneak up on our blind side. Note that this verse declares God’s faithfulness to us as both a shield and a bulwark in a two-layered analogy. The passage is using two images of fortification and protection. God is our tower—our wall of protection in a collective sense; and He is our shield—a very personal and individualized defense.
Read More About Psalm 91!