How A Song Can Be A Shield (or why St. Patrick’s Day must become about more than green beer)

March 13, 2014

Psalm 86

O Lord, do hear and answer me; I’m poor and much in need;
And guard my life; You are my God – Save me! I trust in Thee.

Have mercy, Lord, I call to You all day with a heart whole;
My joy restore, for unto You, O Lord, I lift my soul.

For You are good and gracious, Lord, and ready to forgive;
And You abound in love to all who call on You to live.

Hear, Lord, my prayer; unto the voice of my request attend:
In troublous times I’ll call on You; for You will answer send.

Lord, there is none among the gods that can with You compare;
Nor like the works which You have done, can other deeds compare.

All nations You have made shall come and worship rev’rently,
Before Your face; and they, O Lord, shall glory give to Thee.

For You, O Lord, are very great, and marv’lous are Your deeds;
And You alone are God, O Lord; Your worth o’er all exceeds.

Teach me Your way, and in Your truth, I will walk all my days;
Give me an undivided heart to fear Your name always.

O Lord my God, with all my heart, to You I will give praise;
And I all glory will ascribe unto Your name always.

Great is Your love toward me, O Lord; love that extends to save;
You have delivered me, O Lord, from the depths of the grave.

O God, the proud against me rise, and violent men have met;
They seek my life, with no regard for You before them set.

But You, O Lord, are merciful and full of graciousness;
To anger, slow; abundant in both love and faithfulness.

O turn to me and gracious be; my hope on You is stayed;
Grant Your strength to Your servant, Lord, the son of Your handmaid.

Show a sign of Your goodness, Lord, so enemies may see,
and be ashamed; because You, Lord, do help and comfort me.


On the North American battle field the month of March offers all sorts of variety. There’s the NCAA basketball tournament with its “March Madness.” Then there’s Lent. And of course somewhere along the way March became associated with wind and flying kites. Yes and there was March 3, my birthday (speaking of which if you would like to give me a late birthday present– share this daily text with friends and colleagues. ;0) March 3 is also the Feast Day of Celebration in the Anglican Church for John and Charles Wesley. And don’t forget to beware the ominous “Ides of March,” that fateful day marking the assassination of Julius Caesar. Tucked away in March we also find St. Patrick’s Day.

The interesting thing about St. Patrick’s Day is how it has become about wearing green and beer and four leaf clovers and parades and virtually everything else but St. Patrick. It seems like our little green friend, Master Yoda, should at least get honorable mention on St. Paddies day doesn’t it? Nevertheless, I think the best way we could possibly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day would be for all of the followers of Jesus to walk out into the streets at high noon and together declare the prayer that has come to be known as “The Breastplate of St. Patrick.” It would be an awe-inspiring thing to behold; the Body of Christ collectively taking up her shield of faith. Then we would  move on to a stadium-styled liturgy of Ephesians 6 and Paul’s admonition to put on the full armor of God, but I’m getting carried away now.

As with so much of history, the Breastplate of St. Patrick has been reduced to its sound bytes by now. I’m talking about tracking out the whole shebang– witches, smiths, wizards, poison, drowning, burning and all. Nothing like this ancient prayer brings faith to the fore as a shield. And this is what faith is– a real live shield– not a sentimental hopefulness but a Spirit-fueled tangible reality. Faith is palpable protection. You know it when you see it.

It brings me to Song #86. As I sing it through, it strikes me that the Singer here is armoring up with a great shield of faith. Consider the first line: O Lord, do hear and answer me; I’m poor and much in need;
And guard my life; You are my God – Save me! I trust in Thee. The song goes on to literally pile on in layer after layer the character and history and attributes and nature of the Almighty. Promise rises up into prophecy and protection literally becomes a song of deliverance.

The great irony of a shield of faith is it makes the bearer look even more vulnerable. (Get a picture of David in your mind in his bout with the giant). The shield will appear deceptively invisible to the enemy. The great relief of the shield of faith is the way it graces us with the power to lay down all our tired strategies of self-protection. Self protection for God protection. It’s a pretty good deal.

It’s time to sing it. A song can only become a shield if you sing it. Try the tune “New Britain.” It’s only the  most popular melody in history of history. ;0)  CLICK HERE

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at