The first three parts of the Armor of God are things we “put on.” The belt of truth is strapped around the waist. The Chest plate is fastened over the upper torso. The boots are strapped onto the feet. The last three parts of the Armor are “taken up” rather than “put on.” They include the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. The shield was an incredibly important part of the armor for soldiers who were to engage the enemy who were hurling arrows and spears at them. Thus, Paul begins his instructions regarding “taking up” the shield, by saying, “In all circumstances…” (ESV), or “at all times…” (GN) or “In every situation…” (HSCB). The King James Version takes this is being a matter of single importance in its translation. It begins the exhortation to take up the shield with the phrase, “Above all…” But I agree that the phrase means as the Amplified Version explains it, “Over all….” This is the idea that the shield is something that forms a wall of protection over all the armor already been “put on” by the soldier. It protects his breastplate, his belt, as well as his feet at times.

Faith extinguishes the devil’s darts before they even reach the breastplate of righteousness. It can be maneuvered to block his attacks on the belt of truth. It can be maneuvered to block the darts aimed at the Gospel of Peace which have been strapped on our feet. It takes skill to wield the shield in all the ways necessary to block Satan’s attacks. MacArthur observes, “Two types of shields were commonly used by Roman soldiers. One was a small, lightweight, round shield that was strapped to the soldier’s left forearm and was used to parry blows during hand-to-hand combat. The other, which Paul refers to here, was a large shield measuring about four and a half feet high and two and a half feet wide. It was made of sturdy wood covered with metal and a thick layer of oil-treated leather. The metal deflected arrows, while the oily leather extinguished the fiery pitch with which arrows were commonly swabbed. That type of shield was ideal for full-body protection.”

Yes, faith is our full body protection. It will extinguish “all” the fiery darts of the evil one. It extinguishes the darts of doubt. In the battle for our thoughts we might find ourselves thinking “did God really say….” Guess where that dart of doubt came from. It will extinguish the fiery dart of discouragement. When you think you’ll never be able to…. (fill in the blank), Faith puts out the fire. Delay (why is this taking so long), Difficulty (why is this so hard), Depression (I just want to give up), and Defeat (I’ve had enough!) are all darts that the shield of faith can extinguish when wielded with mature skills. It all takes practice, practice, practice!