Have you ever freed an animal that has gotten caught up in some sort of snare? Growing up near the beach, and being a lifeguard, I often saw marine life trapped in something inadvertently. I always walked away feeling like such a hero setting something free that was trapped.
But many traps are intentionally set, often using some form of bait. Those types are intended to capture its prey, and usually have a dangerous consequence for whatever is caught. In a similar way, the evil one sets traps for us. To trap us and lead us to our demise. In fact, the Psalmist uses just such an illustration in Psalm 91.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:3-4. KJV
Life can be like a battlefield, filled with landmines and traps set specifically for us to become ensnared. But another wonderful promise the Psalmist reminds us about is that even though the “fowler,” the “bird hunter” has caught us in one of his traps, the Lord can set us free from his snares. No matter what the trap type, no matter how complicated, no matter how severe the ensnarement, the Lord knows exactly how to set us free! No trap can be created or set that God cannot release us from.
But so many times we, like the animals, come right back and fall susceptible to the same trap over and over. But God has a plan for that too. Like a weak or injured baby bird, the Lord invites us under the protection of His feathers. These feathers provide cover so that our adversaries, those who hunt us, can’t see us, or get to us. These feathers provide restraint, so we don’t venture right back into danger, particularly in our weak state. And these feathers provide protection, spread out wide to scare off any predators, and knitted together strongly so as to deter the enemy bold enough to try to attack.
But it’s His truth that we can have confidence in, that we should rely on! Not truth necessarily in the sense of His honesty or His Word, those surely contribute. But this word “truth” gives the sense of stability, faithfulness, and firmness. It’s these attributes of God we so desperately need in a world where at every turn we are under attack from an enemy, dead set on destroying us!
His truth is described as two forms of protection: a shield, that is, a big shield which is more like a wall, almost impenetrable. But because the “fowler” is sneaky, the Lord also protects us with another shield, “the buckler,” a smaller, more agile shield to protect us from the vulnerable spots.
You see our God has thought of everything! He knows all there is to know about snares and how to free us from them, he knows how to best protect us, even when we aren’t doing a good enough job to protect ourselves. And He stands ready to fight for us, even when we are too weak to defend ourselves. God reminds us over and over, if He would care this much for a bird, how much more does He care for you!
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.