News of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan reached David, and David’s deep respect and friendship with Jonathan brought on mourning, weeping, and fasting. David not only grieved for himself, but he ordered the men of Judah to be taught the same lament.
“O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul – no longer rubbed with oil.”
2 Samuel 1:21
The portion of David’s lament that caught my eye was, “the shield of Saul – no longer rubbed with oil.”
Digging deeper, I learned that the shields of the Israelites were likely made of wood or wicker and overlaid with leather. They would treat their shields before going into battle with oil to protect them from the weather.
The application of oil made the sword last longer, and it caused the enemies’ swords to glance off.
I can picture soldiers sitting around in the calm before battle rubbing oil on their shields, anticipating the impending battle, and enjoying the camaraderie of their fellow soldiers.
A nervous excitement contrasting the hard, cold resolve of the armor and the reality of the battlefield.
Are we so different from the battle-stained soldiers of Saul’s day?
Battles rage on daily against our hearts and minds, but just like the soldiers we can choose to prepare.
The oil was a protective covering for the shields guarding the warrior’s hearts, and prayer covers and protects our hearts.
Preparing our hearts with prayer invites God’s power into our situation and guards our hearts from the enemy’s lies; they glance off instead of sinking in.
The oil made the shields last longer, while prayer can nurture lasting change.
David mourned both Saul’s death the reality that Saul will no longer have the opportunity to rub his shield with oil in preparation for battle. Saul’s finality brings a holy urgency for me to be a well-prepared soldier while I still have the chance.
Instead of spending my time hoping for a battle-free life, I want to lather His promises on me through prayer as I rise in the morning. Inviting God’s power and protection into my day will bring anticipation for what lies ahead instead of an unprepared dread.
David knew well whom his strength and protection came from.
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
Abiding in God through prayer invites God’s protection into our lives and prepares our hearts for the lives He has entrusted to us.
Do I enter my days unprepared? Do you?
How would our lives be different if we became passionate about preparing our hearts today instead of managing our worry for tomorrow?