God has provided a special kind of protection to those who need it. But is it available for everyone? What condition does He require from us for His offer to be realized? Can the information in the Ancient Hebrew pictograms help us better understand His intentions for us? Will anything in an investigation of this protection point us to Messiah?
The scriptures reveal to us that there were about three thousand proverbs spoken by Solomon in ancient Israel. It is written in First Kings Chapter 4 verse 30 that the wisdom of this king exceeded that of anyone in the known world at that time. A collection of his sayings were preserved for us in the book we today know as the Book of Proverbs.
In Chapter 2 of His book, proverbs 6 through 8 are of particular interest for us today. He writes:
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk upright. He keepeth the paths of judgement, and preserveth the way of his saints.
The message for us is clear. The LORD gives knowledge and understanding to preserve the way of his saints which is figuratively their course of life. In fact, He promises to be a buckler to those saints. What is this?
In Hebrew the word buckler is the word Magen and can be translated shield, buckler, or defense. There is a significant difference between a shield and a buckler. The buckler is considerably smaller. As you might guess, it comes from a root word that means to protect. The Hebrew pictograms can help identify the reason the LORD directed Solomon to use this particular word. Magen is spelled Mem Gimel Noon.
Mem is the picture of waters and can be chaotic and destructive like a tsunami or gentle and pleasant like a stream in the desert. It also represents the Word of God that brings life or the Living Waters.
Gimel is the picture of the camel and means to lift up, to exalt, or to lift up the name of the LORD.
Noon is the picture of the sprout or the fish and means life or activity.
What can the information contained in these pictures tell us about the purpose of this buckler?
They indicate that the strength and power of this shield comes from lifting up the Word of God. Here are the living waters that brings life.
In Hebrew there are often lines that seem to be repeated. We assume this is for emphasis; but the second line is often slightly different, and this difference is meant to draw our attention to something to be added for our understanding. Not only has the LORD given a buckler to them that walk upright, He also preserveth the way of his saints. What does this mean?
The word preserveth is the Hebrew word Shamar and means to keep, to guard, and to protect. This does remind us of the purpose of the buckler, but how is it different? For that we need to examine the information in the pictograms. Shamar is spelled Sheen Mem Reysh.
Sheen is the picture of teeth and means to crush, to press, or to destroy and is the one letter that God uses to identify Himself. It is His signature.
Mem we just listed in Magen.
Reysh is the picture of the head and means the master, the leader, or the prince.
What do these add for us?
God Himself is identified in the Living Waters that bring life in the person of the Prince, His Son. Here is where the ultimate source of the protection of His saints is to be found.
As you may know, the Hebrew letters are also used as numbers and each of the numbers contains meaning according to how they are used throughout the scriptures. The letter Mem is the number 40 and is found in both words and provides a theme that ties them together.
Mem or 40 signifies a period of trials and testing followed by renewal. You might well ask, how can we know that for sure?
Consider a few of the places where the number 40 appears in scripture. Ask yourself how many days was Moses on the Mountain of God when he received the decalogue? How many years did the Israelites wander in the wilderness before they were led into the promised land? How many days and nights did the rain fall on the Ark of Noah before it ceased? How many days did Yeshua spend fasting in the wilderness before He was tempted by Satan?
In each of these cases the number 40 appears, and in each case there was a trial or a testing of some kind. It was followed by a various type of renewal. The law was given, the promised land was gained, the rain stopped and the flood waters began to recede, and after Yeshua resisted the temptations offered by Satan, angels came and ministered to Him.
All of this helps us understand why the Magen or buckler as well as the Shamar are given for the protection of the saints. Why are they necessary?
They are essential because the saints will face trials and testing. The final words of Jesus to His disciples before His arrest confirm this. In the Gospel of John Chapter 16 verse 33 He says this:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
But Solomon also revealed that there is a condition the saints must satisfy in order to expect the LORD to provide the defenses we just discovered. The Magen and Shamar were only there for them that walk upright. In our next article we will explore just what that means.