Buckler vs. Shield
“He layeth up wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:7).
What’s a buckler? What’s the difference between a buckler (KJV vocabulary) and a shield (NIV)? These comments are a paraphrase for a conversation I recently had with my daughter, Julie. (It’s very encouraging to realize my children are finding treasures in the Authorized Version.)
A shield was big, typically foot to shoulder in height; it provided almost full body coverage. When it was placed together with other shields, they could form a very good defensive wall. However, due to its size, a shield was heavy and not well suited for mobile or offensive warfare.
A buckler was a smaller blocker, usually worn on the arm, and tailor fitted to each soldier. (I picture the blocker on a hockey goalie.) The purpose was not to join others and form a wall; but rather to be mobile, and permit offensive movement. This was a small shield to use on the go.
For the record, and to answer those that would think both words represent identical items (therefore, who cares…why not use one easy word for both?), typically foot to shoulder in height, consider that both are used in one phrase, indicating a difference: “…his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4). Also note the subject, truth, is both defensive and offensive in nature. There is a difference.
Note the context: “…to them that walk uprightly” (Pro. 2:7) —the context is walking, moving. Buckler (KJV) fits, it matches and verifies the verb: walking (verb) and buckler (noun) go together well. Contrariwise, shield (NIV) almost contradicts the action verb of walking. Shield would fit better within the context of words like withstand and stand (Ephesians. 6:13).