Meditations on the Psalms
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3 ESV)
Though surrounded by those who demean Him, give false testimony against Him, and mock Him, Jesus knows with whom the ultimate authority and control resides. Nothing done by the Deceiver, the world or those who follow their own sinful flesh will impact Him or keep Him from accomplishing His eternal purpose.
Again, Jesus uses the proper name for God, YHWH, as He addresses the One who protects Him. He declares God is a shield surrounding Him. Shield is a small or large defensive weapon, flat and covered with leather, used to deflect the blows of a sword or stop arrows from reaching their target, the soldier carrying the shield. Smaller shields were used in hand-to-hand combat, both defensively and offensively. God is His Protector.
God is not just a Protector. God is His glory, His honor, abundance, dignity, reputation. And God is the lifter of His head, which means God raises Him up, with the dignity and splendor due His royal position.
This claim seems diametrically opposed to the previous account where Jesus is surrounded and mocked by His foes, by those who are torturing Him to death. We must not forget the beginning of His history in the space-time universe, nor the conclusion of His ministry before He returns to His rightful place in eternity.
After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, He and His parents were visited by worshippers from an Eastern country. These visitors saw in the heavens the imminent birth of the king of the Jews. Traveling from their country, they sought out Herod the Great, a non-Jew, who was the leader and overseer of Judea under the Roman empire. “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2 ESV). Herod was not delighted with the proclamation of these men but did not show his anger to them. He was a ruler who conspired against the Lord and His Anointed. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:2 ESV). He deceptively instructed the men from the East to find the child and return to him, so “I too may come and worship him” (Matthew 2:8 ESV).
They left Herod’s presence and found Jesus and worshipped Him as God. Jesus was with His mother, Mary, and they gave Him “gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 ESV), gifts suitable for a recognized King. They did not return to Herod to tell him about Jesus. “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way” (Matthew 2:12 ESV). God warned them to not return to Herod, just as God warned Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, to flee their country.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15 ESV; see Hosea 11:1)
Herod’s intent was to slaughter the child. He was shrewd and ruthless in keeping his political and personal power, murdering members of his own family. He cared only for those who would advance his authority over the land he ruled. He wanted to kill Jesus but did not know how to identify the child. So, he slaughtered all of the children in the vicinity of where the men from the East said Jesus lived. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 ESV). None of the children he murdered, or any of their family, were guilty of a crime against him or their country.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, God shielded Him from the assaults of a world that hated Him, until the end of His ministry. Then He felt the brunt of the world’s hatred toward God and died. After He died, God lifted His head, raised Him from the dead, and brought Him into His presence, returning to Him the glory He set aside to become a man. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV).