They seem to come out of nowhere, but the fiery darts of our adversary, the devil, are strategically aimed and timed to hit us when we least expect them or are most vulnerable. In Ephesians 6, as Paul describes the armor of God, he says, above all, take the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (Ephesians 6:16 NKJV).
The darts aimed at us are not harmless suction-cupped ones that gently stick to us, jiggle a bit, and then fall off. Paul referred to the devil’s darts as the falarica dart, which was a lead-tipped dart—like a javelin-- surrounded by a combustible substance that would destroy an engine or a ship. Did you catch that? The enemy’s fiery darts pack some punch, or at least they are intended to. If such a dart hit a shield, it would stick to the shield and set it on fire. Furthermore, these darts often had a tarry substance on them, so when they penetrated flesh, it was nearly impossible to extract them from injured warriors. They adhered to the organ or tissue targeted and caused intense pain or death. Some of the darts were even poisonous.
What does a fiery dart look like when it hits us? Obviously, there are no actual physical darts flying toward us, but harsh words like accusations, slander, lies, and negative criticism can come at us suddenly and unannounced leaving lasting mental and emotional damage. The devil then pounds us with the “dart” until it adheres to our soul and defeats us. Defeat is always Satan’s intent. Strongholds (wrong patterns of thinking) quickly form in our minds, and we begin to believe the lies that coat the fiery dart with poison.
The fiery darts of sharp words are not the only darts in the enemy’s arsenal. Unforeseen abrupt interruptions in life can be just as devastating as the enemy’s slanderous tongue. News of a fatal disease or financial collapse or sudden natural disasters can shake us from the joy and peace we experience after times of victory and accomplishment. Marital upsets and issues with our jobs or children can, without warning, spring up overnight. We are ambushed by the unexpected attack, and our faith level plummets…exactly the intent of the enemy.
That is why the Apostle Paul tells us to, above all, take up the shield of faith with which we will be able to quench ALL the fiery darts of the wicked one. This shield is not a little round one, but the word describes a long, rectangular shield, shaped like a door. A properly trained Roman legionary could use that shield so that no part of his body could be reached by the missiles of the enemy. It protected him completely. This is the kind of faith Paul was speaking about when he referred to it as a shield, (Derek Prince, Spiritual Warfare, pg. 71).
The shield of faith is specifically effective for our protection and provision, as well as the protection of those the Lord has entrusted to us. When we “take up” the shield of faith, we stretch it out toward the incoming assault of the enemy—whether it’s a personal attack or biting words and situations against a loved one. The harsh words or deadly attacks get caught on our faith shield, and they are blunted and extinguished. The literal meaning of Ephesians 6:16 is, “above all, taking the shield of faith, by which you will be dynamically empowered.…” The phrase “dynamically empowered” is from the Greek word dunamis, which is God’s supernatural explosive, creative power.
When we stretch out the shield of faith over the sudden trouble and calamity of a fiery dart, the shield is supernaturally charged with God’s dunamis power! So, scriptures like no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), and if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) are the REAL punch-packers! Jesus Christ is the only Person Satan has not defeated, so proudly shoving our shield of faith in the face of the enemy and declaring God’s Word puts out the fire of his flaming missiles. Actually, the scripture says it puts them ALL out.
Of course, if we have no faith, our shield might as well be made of cardboard, and the enemy knows that. Strengthen your faith shield by soaking it in the Word of God, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NKJV). The same Roman soldier who used his shield against the enemy, first soaked it in water before going into battle, and it would quench the flames of the fiery darts (Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek). Keep in mind that the Word of God is likened to water.
Fiery darts are sudden, unannounced, numbing occurrences. Have you experienced the sudden loss of a loved one or a devastating medical diagnosis for yourself or a family member that has shaken you to the core? Have words been spoken to or about you that have crushed your soul? Stretch out the shield of faith in the living Christ to quench those darts, once and for all. The dunamis power of God will be released as you proclaim scriptures to negate and cancel the mission of the fiery dart.
I have my shield; you have yours. Nothing else soaks our shields sufficiently for battle except the Word of God. If we don’t spend time reading and learning the Bible, we’ll have nothing to stretch out when a fiery dart numbs us. Even the strongest network of relationships cannot substitute for the dynamic power of your own soaked, saturated shield of faith. When we’re overcome with emotion and defeat, we need to have a deep reservoir of the Word of God within us as we take up our shields.
If we’re doing anything at all for the Kingdom of God, fiery darts will be launched at us. Let’s not get caught with tired old, dry, dilapidated shields! Soak and stretch out; soak and stretch out.