Shield Me from Alarm
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart (Psalm 91:4).
There is much in this world that can alarm us. Those who would defend a nation spend considerable time preparing for alarming situations. But chest pain or wrong-way traffic can set off an alarm as easily as weapons of war.
We live in a dangerous world. Not only the terrorist brings terror. Not only are bodies subject to attack. PTSD reminds us of the horror that can threaten the mind. God reminds us of the terror that can strike the soul.
Alarmed by the threat of physical pain and death is a terrifying situation. To be alarmed by the threat of eternal pain and death defies description.
We want protection from both. We want to be on guard against both. But we do not always see danger coming. We do not always have the ability to escape it.
We need a shield from the enemy. We need to storm against that enemy. A rampart gives a position to launch an attack from. Both must be strong. They must always be in place.
Where can we find such things? Even the best trained and equipped military in the world cannot guarantee something like this against earthly threats, how much less can it protect against forces from the pit of hell.
We point to the answer in one of our hymns. We sing: “A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon.” We admit: “With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected.” We explain why: “The old evil foe now means deadly woe; deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal.”
The words, Desert Shield and Desert Storm have become part of American vocabulary. Those two campaigns responded to an alarming situation. Students of military strategy will study the details of those effective responses for years to come.
The writer of the 91st Psalm knew nothing about scud missiles or armored tanks. But he did understand the importance of protection and counterattack. He realized that the old evil foe laughs at the feeble efforts of humans to defend themselves against supernatural forces.
When the conscience cries out in alarm, when terror spreads through the soul, then a Super Power must step in. Then heavenly forces must be deployed.
Thank God, that has happened. We can sing: “We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpower us.” And why the confidence? “But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected. You ask, ‘Who is this?’ Jesus Christ it is, the almighty Lord. And there’s no other God; he holds the field forever.”
“And shield me from alarm” is a prayer that is part of an evening hymn that mothers taught, and sometimes sang, to little children being tucked into bed.
It is a good prayer for people of any age, in any circumstance—day or night.
It is a good prayer for us today.
“Lord Jesus, who dost love me,
Oh, spread Thy wings above me, and shield me from alarm!
Though evil would assail me,
Thy mercy will not fail me:
I rest in Thy protecting arm.” Amen.