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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Snowy trail along Donegal Creek
A snowy walking trail along Donegal Creek near our home.
The snow is now gone and we have the cold, blustery winds of March!

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"Our Shield"

"O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!   Many are saying of me, 'God will not deliver him' Selah  But You are a shield around me, O LORD; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head"  (Psalm 3:1-3).

Pennsylvania has many towns with interesting names. About sixty miles due north of us in the 
Appalachian Mountains is a small village named "Fearnot". I don't know how the name originated. I spent a bit of time trying to find out but was unable to do so. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if it had a Biblical basis as is the case with the names of many towns in our area.  Perhaps the early settlers were experiencing fear and a Bible preacher challenged them with a passage from the Bible that declares "Fear not".  The message was so pertinent and left such an impact the settlers decided it would be an excellent name for a town.  They’d hear the reminder each time the name of the town is spoken. In fact, there is a church in that area named Fearnot, which is an unusual but very descriptive name!

Many of us can identify with David's desperate cry to God in these verses.  Our circumstances differ but we also sense the presence of foes.  And to this day they continue to voice the same dispiriting words, "God will not deliver!"  Undoubtedly some of you are dealing with this kind of emotional turmoil today.  And your greatest foe, Satan, unceasingly torments. Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther wrote, "But still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe."

David wrote this portion of Scripture when he was forced to flee from his rebellious son Absalom.  The historical record of that uprising is found in 2 Samuel 13.  David had been at the height of his power when he committed his most famous sin (2 Samuel 11), a "private matter" which had wide and lasting consequences.  Although he eventually repented, a chain of events had been initiated of which he had little control.  Now the great king is fighting for his life, his chief human adversary being his very own son.

The word "Selah" in the text is an actual transliteration of the Hebrew. In other words like "Hallelujah" and "Amen" it sounds the same in English as in Hebrew.  It is thought to be a musical term indicating a pause.  I read a comment that suggests it calls the reader to pause and contemplate on what has been written and prepare for what is coming next. 

The very first reference to “shield” in the Bible is used in a spiritual sense when the Lord speaks to Abraham. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am Your shield, Your very great reward" (Genesis 15:1). Perhaps David recalled this passage when he confidently declared, "But you are a shield around me, O Lord."  David had a firm grounding in this glorious, unchanging truth.  The remainder of Psalm 3 is a confident expression of faith in God's care.

Today I encourage each reader to focus on this unchanging God, who ever remains a shield around those who trust in Him.  In fact throughout the Psalms David uses the image of a shield to describe the care and power of God. In the New Testament Paul speaks of the shield in Ephesians 6 as a defense weapon against the "flaming arrows of the evil one."

Here's another example from the Psalms to close with: "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song" (Psalm 28:7).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there are many foes standing ready to attack.  The enemy’s ammunition is relentless coming from every direction but I am thoroughly protected by Your impenetrable shield that completely surrounds me. Fear misguides, but faith guides me into an enduring trust in Your unfailing love. You are My shelter from the stormy blast of Satan's weaponry. You lift my head as I am encouraged in You today and my hope is secured in my future eternal home. Amen.

Fearnot PA is near a town called "Rough and Ready" and not too far from "Red Cross".  A bit north is Centralia, a small town abandoned due to a large underground mine fire that is still burning. Many years ago we drove through the town when you still could and that was quite an experience!

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"You Are My Hiding Place"  (Audio) By Gordie and Marie Barlow

"Thou O Lord Art A Shield About Me"  (Audio) A local church version

"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"  (Instrumental audio)

"Grace Flows Down"  (Audio)

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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