"He (God) holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones." Proverbs 2:7-8
Proverbs chapter 2 has three parts to it: One, the writer, known as "the Sage," encourages young people to seek wisdom and a relationship with God. Two, he encourages the development of moral sensitivity, or a conscience. Three, he encourages wise choices in our selection of friends, with the promise that with wise choices we will avoid evil and will be rewarded by God.
The problem is, how many of us consistently do all of these good things? Attaining Wisdom is a life-long pursuit. It involves hard work and consistent effort. It means we have to think, ask hard questions, study and always be open to learning. Sometimes it is exhausting, and when we fail it can be so frustrating. And, along the way, we often stumble and fall. The truth is, we sometimes pick the wrong friends, make bad choices, and get ourselves into trouble.
If we are not careful we can despair of ever living the righteous life that God wants for us to lead. The righteous life doesn’t mean a perfect life, it means a life that is living in the direction God wants it to go, being molded and shaped by God’s spirit and truth. To be righteous means we try to live as God wants us to, being shaped by the Bible and making ethical choices. For example, if we have the opportunity to make a lot of money fast but illegally, we will choose not to. Making money illegally or immorally is against God, so the righteous person won’t do it.
A young man was arrested for dealing illegal drugs. At the time of his arrest he had several thousand dollars stashed away. After his release from custody, and a stint at rehabilitation, he was going to go back to his stash and get it for himself. But, while he was in custody he began to realize that the money he had hidden was illegal and immoral. He made that money selling drugs to other children. His conscience began to develop to the point that he didn’t feel it was the right thing, the Christian thing, to enjoy the money that he had obtained immorally. He decided to let the money go, along with the friends and lifestyle from his drug-using and drug-selling days. That was a righteous decision.
Making righteous decisions is not easy. But there is good news for those trying to live righteously: we are never fully alone. Even if we stand alone, even if we stand apart from friends or classmates because we have different interests than they do, we are never truly alone. God holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless. We have God as our shield to help and protect us when we are trying to live righteously.
In ancient times warriors would carry a shield into battle. Defensively a shield protected a soldier from arrows or swords. He could hide behind his shield and protect his body from being hit. Offensively a soldier could use it to push against an enemy line or even strike an enemy soldier. It was an indispensable part of a soldier’s equipment.
This piece of military equipment is used as a metaphor for the kind of protection God offers us. God will protect us against attacks from enemies and he will go ahead of us to strike at the temptation waiting to engulf us.
Interestingly, the word used for shield actually means, resource, defined as "an inner power that helps one escape a fix." (Fox, 1:114). God is our resource to protect us and guide us as we seek to live righteously. He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
How is God a shield or resource for us against evil companions or temptation to sin? One, remember God’s promise that he will never allow us to be tempted above what we can bear. (1 Cor.10:13). Secondly, the wise counsel of parents and spiritual friends is a valuable ally in finding the strength to do what is right. (Proverbs 27:9-20). Thirdly, having the Word of God in our hearts and trusting it above our own opinions is one of the greatest resources God gives us to shield us on the path of righteousness. (Proverbs 3:1,5).