"O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle." (Psalm 140:7)
One of the most troubling days in my life happened in my first semester of college in a Western Civilization class. The class topics covered the Old and New Testament eras, and being a lifelong Christian, I assumed these areas would be of little difficulty for me. What an arrogant assumption!
When the professor got to the sections about Jesus and our primary source of knowledge about him (the Bible), the professor proceeded to show all the apparent contradictions and supposed inconsistencies that inferred a flawed and untrustworthy book. As the professor began to compare verses that seemed to blatantly contradict one another, I began to feel sick. I remember getting in my car to go home after class and feeling completely lost. For the first time in my life, my bubble had been burst. I had always heard objections to the logic or morality of Christianity, but this was the first time I heard the very source of revelation, the Bible, was self-contradicting. I began to wonder if everything I had believed my whole life was wrong. If the Bible was untrustworthy, how could I know anything or maintain my faith? I felt like the ground was swept out from under me, and I was unmoored, floating in an abyss of confusion and having nothing else to grab hold of to give life meaning or purpose. It was dreadful.
In the long run, the professor did me a favor. By bursting my bubble, he inspired me to seek out answers to questions about my faith that I might not have otherwise asked. But the process was painful, difficult, and full of doubts. I had always believed in the power of faith, but that professor also showed me its fragility.
In this verse, we hear of a very fragile part of the body—the head. In the violence of battle, the head must be protected by a helmet, for if you strike a man’s leg, shoulder, or arm, he might still fight, but cut into his head and his whole body is done. So the head must be protected at all costs. The problem is, if you were to fight so defensively that you always attempted to protect your head, you wouldn’t fight well. A helmet does the work of defense for you so that you can concentrate on your enemies.
In this verse, we hear an amazing promise—in essence, that God is your helmet. Specifically, this helmet is your salvation. Not only is the Lord himself your salvation (Psalm 27:1), but he is also the strength of your salvation. Your Lord takes responsibility for your salvation. It both comes and is sustained by God’s own hand. And we hear this type of assurance many times, such as in the famous benediction, “May the Lord bless you and keep you” (Numbers 6:24). He will be your helmet. He will be your salvation and the quality of that salvation.
When my professor attempted to undermine the authority of God’s word, I was terrified I might have lost my salvation. I even wondered if there was any salvation at all. But what I have come to see is that while anyone can make a conscious decision to walk away from God or deny him, a person can’t accidentally lose his or her salvation. Why? Because God preserves it. He is faith’s strength. He will bless and keep. He will be for us what we cannot be. He will give to us what we do not have. He will sustain us beyond our abilities.
In the many dark nights that the faithful bear, we must not lose heart. The enemy will lash and strike, the flesh will doubt and argue, but God will be the helmet shielding us from ultimate harm.
Having such a great defense, then, let’s go to work on the real battle: telling others about Jesus, loving our neighbors, and doing the work of the kingdom. And remember, God himself promises to be your God and your strength. Let us live in this promise.