For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly
It was a bright, sunny day at the beach, a perfect day to relax and read. But the glare of the sun was so intense my sunglasses weren't enough to block its powerful rays. As I shielded my eyes, Psalm 84:11 came to mind, The Lord God is a sun and a shield—this is such a beautiful promise for God's children!
I wondered, though, how could God be a sun and a shield? It seemed incompatible. As I thought about it, I realized the Psalmist gives us a clue as to the meaning from the second part of the verse, The Lord will give grace and glory . . .
The earth's sun brings light and life to the world. Likewise, God brings light and life to those who trust in him. God is holy; he is pure, faultless, and without sin.
God's glory-presence is often depicted in light and fire and
is associated with his judgment; consider the following Scriptures:
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deut. 4:24).
Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies . . . In his wrath the LORD will swallow them up, and his fire will consume them (Ps. 21:8-9)
God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).
God used a fiery torch when he made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:17). He also showed himself to Moses from a burning bush and instructed him to take off his sandals, because he was standing on holy ground (Ex. 3:2-5).
When God rescued the Jewish nation, Moses received the law from atop a fiery mountain (Ex 19:16ff). While on the mountain, God concealed his glory in a cloud. When Moses asked to see God's glory, the Lord said, "You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex. 33:20). But what did God do? He shielded him! Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen" (Ex. 33:19-23).
During the next forty days and nights God instructed Moses to build a portable tabernacle. It was a model of the heavenly tabernacle and would be where God's Spirit lived on earth. The Jewish people could worship him there and sacrifice animals so they could be forgiven of their sins. When Moses descended the mountain, God's presence was so bright it caused Moses' face to shine—his face reflected God's glory—so much so that Moses had to "shield" his face with a veil so people could look at him (Ex. 34:33, 2 Co. 3:13)!
When the tabernacle was finished, the Bible says the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34). God lived among them and protected them. For forty years, God's glory-cloud and pillar of fire led the Israelites through the wilderness. After they reached the Promised Land, the portable tabernacle was replaced with a stone temple, where the Spirit of God lived among his people. Yet, because of their sinfulness, the stone temple was eventually destroyed. And when the temple was rebuilt, the Bible doesn't indicate that God's glory ever returned to that man-made building (Ez. 10-11).
In the New Testament, we learn that God's glory presence showed up at Jesus' birth. The Bible says the Glory shone around the shepherds and they were terrified (Lk. 2:9).
The special star that guided the wise men to worship Jesus, is reminiscent of the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Israelites in the wilderness (Mt. 2:2).
And before Jesus began his earthly ministry, John the Baptist called people to turn from their sins so Jesus could baptize them with them Holy Spirit and with fire (Mt. 3:11). John called Jesus the true light (Jn. 1:9).
Jesus himself said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). Today, God's children, like Moses, are to reflect our Savior's light in the world.
As the earth's sun exposes darkness, God's glory-presence exposes sin:
. . . He (the Lord) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. . . (I Co 4:5).
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them . . .
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible . . . (Eph 5:11-13).
If it were possible to stand on or near the sun, we would be instantly consumed by fire. Likewise, to be exposed to God's glory in our sinful state would mean instant eternal death. No one could survive. However, it is by God's grace, his shield, "Jesus," that we are protected.
When we are in Christ, God shines his light into the dark, stained-with-sin, recesses of our hearts and minds, exposing and cleansing our sin, yet we're not destroyed! Jesus joyfully went to the cross to take our punishment (Heb. 12:2).
Jesus knew his death on the cross meant "shielding" for us from God's wrath!
What a glorious assurance for those who trust in him:
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart (PS 7:10).
. . . He is a shield for all who take refuge in him (Ps 18:30).
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (Ps.28:7).
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may
boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
The second part of Psalm 84:11 holds a promise for those whose God is a sun and shield, "No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly."
Friends, we can only be upright, that is "blameless," when our sins have been forgiven and our debt paid. If you haven't asked Jesus to forgive your sins, do it today. The Bible says, "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Co. 6:2).
"Dear God, I believe that you are a sun and shield to those who seek your face, to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Shine your light in my life and expose the darkness of my sins. Forgive my sins and help me to follow you. I praise you and thank you for being the shield of my life, both here and in the life to come. Amen."
Copyright 2012 Sarah Keith
Teach children about God's glory presence. Check out our Bible curriculum, Lighthouse, An Overview for Children on the Book of Acts and the Glory of God. (K-5th grade)