[dropcap]W[/dropcap]here did that thought come from? Have you ever faced a challenge or opportunity, and out of nowhere comes a dark or fearful thought, seemingly inserted into your consciousness by a force outside of yourself?
Or do these same challenges seem to bring enemies and provocateurs out of the woodwork at critical moments to spoil your peace?
Ephesians 6:16 counsels us: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Why is this so important? Because we have an enemy whose job description is to shoot at the heart of the upright secretly and so destroy the foundation of our faith (Psalm 11:2-3). We all know that there is no foundation besides Christ (I Corinthians 3:11).
What exactly are these darts? We see them first in Genesis 49:23: They are called Archers. They shoot destructive thoughts and unbelief into the hearts of the righteous to destroy their foundation of faith in Christ. They do not go after failures but those who have the potential to succeed.
We see this principle illustrated clearly in Joseph’s life: “Joseph was a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well;…The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.” (Genesis 49:22-23). The archers knew Joseph was on his way to stardom, so, through his brothers, he was enslaved, imprisoned and made redundant till God delivered him and took him to the throne of Egypt.
We see the Archers at work in Hannah’s life too. We are told that Peninnah, her adversary, “…also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.” (I Samuel 1:6). The reason for the provocation was to make her fret. As long as Hannah fretted, she would not be in position for God’s blessing (Psalm 37:1-8). Peninnah knew the precise time when Hannah was most vulnerable–each year at Shiloh, where the people of Israel came to worship and seek God at the Tabernacle in the days of the judges. At Shiloh, “…she [Peninnah] provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.”
The Archers draw their bows and take sharp aim when your opportunity for deliverance is at its highest. Peninnah shot Hannah at Shiloh when she was supposed to be meeting with God. The result was distress: Hannah was so distracted that she had no time to pray until her husband said to her, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?” It was then that Hannah took her destiny in her hands and stopped the pity party the Archers had fired into her heart. She prayed until God answered her: “… she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.”
What is the solution to the enemy’s fiery darts? Guard your heart with all diligence in:
a) Praying and not being anxious (Philippians 4:6).
b) Resisting destructive thoughts and refusing to dwell on them.
c) Wielding the power of the Word. Jesus whipped the devil through the Word (Luke 4:1-14).
d) Praise and worship. Listen to uplifting spiritual songs.
e) Fellowship. As much as possible, don’t hang around those who cut you down.
f) Assurance from God: reminding yourself of His faithfulness during crises (Isaiah 43:6-8).
When you overcome and are delivered, you will return to testify in the “places of drawing waters”—any place where you are refreshed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, such as a church, fellowship, or where two or three are gathered in His name. “They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord…then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.” (Judges 5:11.)
When you revisit God’s righteous deeds, you encourage others in the same situation to have faith that their deliverance is on the way. Free of shackles and limitations, you are now emboldened to confront the gates of the enemy and get back all that he has stolen from you. So lift up your shield of faith and remain blessed!
Taiwo Ayeni is president of Rehoboth Bible Ministries, Inc., in Grand Prairie, where he lives with his wife Abidemi and their son and daughter. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.