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Psalm 84:11

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 11. For the Lord God is a sun and shield. Pilgrims need both as the weather may be, for the cold would smite them were it not for the sun, and foes are apt to waylay the sacred caravan, and would haply destroy it if it were without a shield. Heavenly pilgrims are not left uncomforted or unprotected. The pilgrim nation found both sun and shield in that fiery cloudy pillar which was the symbol of Jehovah's presence, and the Christian still finds both light and shelter in the Lord his God. A sun for happy days and a shield for dangerous ones. A sun above, a shield around. A light to show the way and a shield to ward off its perils. Blessed are they who journey with such a convoy; the sunny and shady side of life are alike happy to them.

The Lord will give grace and glory. Both in due time, both as needed, both to the full, both with absolute certainty. The Lord has both grace and glory in infinite abundance; Jesus is the fulness of both, and, as his chosen people, we shall receive both as a free gift from the God of our salvation. What more can the Lord give, or we receive, or desire.

No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Grace makes us walk uprightly and this secures every covenant blessing to us. What a wide promise! Some apparent good may be withheld, but no real good, no, not one. "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." God has all good, there is no good apart from him, and there is no good which he either needs to keep back or will on any account refuse us, if we are but ready to receive it. We must be upright and neither lean to this or that form of evil: and this uprightness must be practical, -- we must walk in truth and holiness, then shall we be heirs of all things, and as we come of age all things shall be in our actual possession; and meanwhile, according to our capacity for receiving shall be the measure of the divine bestowal. This is true, not of a favoured few, but of all the saints for evermore.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 11. The Lord God is a sun, conveys a striking and impressive truth, when we think of the sun only in his obvious character as a source of light and heat. But what new energy is given to this magnificent emblem, when we learn from astronomy that he is a grand center of attraction, and when we, in addition, take in that sublime generalization that the sun is the ultimate source of every form of power existing in the world! The wind wafts the commerce of every nation over the mighty deep; but the heat of the sun has rarefied that air, and set that wind in motion. The descending stream yields a power which grinds your grain, turns your spindles, works your looms, drives your forges; but it is because the sun gathered up the vapour from the ocean, which fell upon the hills, and is finding its way back to the source whence it came. The expansive energy of steam propels your engine; but the force with which it operates is locked up in the coal (the remains of extinct forests stored among your hills), or is derived from the wood that abounds in your forests, which now crown and beautify their summits. Both these primeval and these existing forests drew their substance from the sun: it is the chemical force resident in his rays which disengaged their carbon from the atmosphere, and laid it up as a source of power for future use. The animal exerts a force by muscular contraction; he draws it from the vegetable on which he feeds; the vegetable derives it from the sun, whose rays determine its growth. Every time you lift your arm, every time you take a step, you are drawing on the power the sun has given you. When you step into the railway carriage, it is the sun power that hurries you along. When gentle breezes fan your languid cheek, and when the restless tornado levels cities in its fury, they are the servants of the sun. What an emblem of Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being! Professor Green.

Verse 11. The sun, which among all inanimate creatures is the most excellent, notes all manner of excellency, provision, and prosperity; and the shield, which among all artificial creatures is the chiefest, notes all manner of protection whatsoever. Under the name of grace, all spiritual good is wrapped up; and under the name of glory, all eternal good is wrapped up; and under the last clause, No good thing will he withhold, is wrapped up all temporal good: all put together speaks out God to be an all sufficient portion. Thomas Brooks.

Verse 11. The Lord God is a shield. He is a shield to our persons: "Touch not," said he, "mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." "The Lord," said Moses in his name, "the Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in. He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways, lest at any time thou shalt dash thy foot against a stone. Hast thou considered my servant Job? said God to Satan: -- Yes, replied Satan, I have; thou hast set a hedge about him." Yes, brethren: the Lord God is a shield. He is a shield to our graces. The dislike and malice of Satan is principally levelled at us when we become subjects of divine influence. "Simon, Simon," said our Saviour, "Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat, but," he adds, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." There was a shield to the good man's faith, or he and it too had been gone. You may remember the name of Little Faith in Bunyan's Pilgrim. It appears that Hopeful was greatly surprised that the robbers had not taken his jewels from him; but he was given to understand that they were not in his own keeping. Yes, Christian, HE shall be thy "shield" to cover thy hope when it appears to thee to be giving up the ghost... Yes, and He will be a shield to thy property. "Hast thou not set a hedge about all that he hath?" Though Job was tried a little while, his property was only put out to interest; by and by it came back cent per cent; and he gained, besides, a vast increase of knowledge and of grace. Matthew Wilks. 1746-1829.

Verse 11. Turn your thoughts to the combination; the Lord God is a sun and shield. As a sun he shows me more and more of my sinfulness; but then as a shield, he gives me power to oppose it and assurance that I shall conquer. As a sun, he discloses so much of the enormity of guilt, that I am forced to exclaim, "Mine iniquities are like a sore burden, too heavy for me to bear;" but then as a shield, he shows me that he has laid the load on a Surety, who bore it into a land of forgetfulness. As a sun, he makes me daily more and more sensible of the utter impossibility of my working out a righteousness of my own; but then, as a shield, he fastens constantly my thoughts on that righteousness of his Son, which is meritoriously conveyed to all who believe on his name. As a sun, in short, he brings fact to my knowledge, (inasmuch as he brings myself and mine enemies to my knowledge,) which would make the matter of deliverance seem out of reach and hopeless, if he were not at the same time a shield; but seeing that he is both a shield as well as a sun, the disclosures which he makes as a sun only prepare me for the blessings which he imparts as a shield. Who then shall wonder, that after announcing the character of God, the psalmist should break into expressions of confidence and assurance? It may be, that as the corruption of nature is brought continually before me, deeper and wider and darker, Satan will ply me with the suggestion; "The guiltiness is too inveterate to be eradicated, and too enormous to be pardoned;" and if God were a sun, and nothing more, it might be hard to put away the suggestion as a device of the father of lies. I might then fear. I might fear God's holiness, thinking I should never be fitted for communion with Deity; I might fear God's justice, thinking I should never find acquittal at the last dread assize. But can I fear either, when besides a sun, God is also a shield? Can I fear God's justice, when as a shield he places sufferings to my account, which satisfy the law, even to the last penalty? Can I fear his holiness, when he gives me interest in an obedience which fulfils every precept? Does not the one character, that of a shield, help me to scatter those solicitudes, which may well be excited through the operation of the other character, that of a sun? And am I not warranted -- nay, am I not living far below my privilege -- if I fail in deriving from the combination of character a boldness and a confidence, not to be overborne by those suspicions, which have Satan for their author? As a sun, God shows me myself; as a shield, God shows me himself. The sun discloses mine own nothingness; the shield, Divine sufficiency. The one enables me to discern that I deserve nothing but wrath and can earn nothing but shame; the other, that I have a title to immortality, and may lay claim to an enduring inheritance in heaven. I learn, in short, from God as a Sun, that if I have "wages," I must have eternal death; but from God as a Shield, that if I will receive the "free gift," I may have "eternal life." Whom then shall I fear? Myself -- confessedly my worst enemy? "The Sun" makes a man start from himself; the "Shield" assures him that he shall be protected against himself and builded up "for a habitation of God through the Spirit." Shall I shrink from Satan and the hosts of principalities and powers? The "Sun" shows them awful in their might and vehement in their malice; but the "Shield" exhibits them spoiled and led captive, when Christ died and rose again. Shall I dread death? Indeed the "Sun" makes death terrible, forcing me to read God's curse in the motionless limbs and mouldering features; but then the "Shield" displays the open sepulchre, the quickened dust, the marvels of a resurrection, the mountain and the ocean and the valley yielding up the sleeping generations. Is death to be dreaded? Take the catalogue of things, which, inasmuch as we are fallen creatures, God, as our "Sun," instructs us to fear; and we shall find, that insomuch as we are redeemed creatures, God as our "Shield" enables us to triumph over all our fears. Who therefore shall hesitate to agree, that there results from this combination of character exactly that system of counterpoise, which we affirm to be discoverable in grace as well as in providence? Who can fail, if indeed he have been disciplined by that twofold tuition, which informs man first that he has destroyed himself and then that God hath "laid help on One that is mighty," the former lesson humiliating, the latter encouraging, the one making way for the other, so that the scholar is emptied of every false confidence that he may be fitted to entertain the true -- oh! who, we say, can fail to gather from the combination of Divine character the inference drawn by the Psalmist? to exclaim (that is), after recording that "the Lord God is a Sun and a Shield" -- He will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly? Henry Melvill.

Verse 11. The words of the text are as a voice from heaven, inviting me up thither, and answering all the doubts and fears of such as believe and follow the joyful sound. Am I in darkness, and fear I shall never find the way? Open thine eye, O my soul! look up to the Father of lights: the Lord is a sun, whose steady beams shall direct thy steps. Is there an inward veil to be removed from my mind, as well as obscurity from my path? He is sufficient for both. God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, can shine into the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of his glory, and lead on to it. ( 4:6 .) He can make the day dawn, and the day star to arise in our hearts; ( 2 Peter 1:19 ), and by both, guide our feet into the way of peace. ( Luke 1:79 .) Doth the same light that discovers my way, discover what opposition I am like to meet with? what enemies and dangers I am to go through? Hear, O my soul, the Lord is a shield. Light and strength are conjoined; none can miscarry under his conduct, nor have any reason to be discouraged. With this he comforteth Abraham. Genesis 15:1 , Fear not: I am thy shield. Do I groan under a sense of my unmeetness for the heavenly kingdom? Let this support my soul, the Lord will give grace. Am I altogether unworthy of so high a happiness? It springs from his own most free, unbounded love; the Lord will give glory. Am I urged with a thousand wants that need supply, what more can be added? No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Nothing that is evil can be desired; and nothing that is good shall be denied. Here, O my soul, is a fountain opened; here thy eager thirst may be fully satisfied; thy largest desires filled up; and thy mind be ever at rest. Daniel Wilcox.

Verse 11. Why need a saint fear darkness, when he has such a sun to guide him? Or dread dangers, when he has such a shield to guard him? William Secker.

Verse 11. The Lord will give glory. "Man," says a wise author, "is the glory of this lower world; the soul is the glory of man; grace is the glory of the soul; and heaven is the glory of grace." Heaven, or glory, is grace matured and brought to infinite perfection; there we shall see his face, and have his name written in our foreheads; and we shall reign with him for ever and ever. Matthew Wilks.

Verse 11. No good thing will he withhold. etc. But how is this true, when God oftentimes withholds riches and honours, and health of body from men, though they walk never so uprightly; we may therefore know that honours and riches and bodily strength, are none of God's good things; they are of the number of things indifferent which God bestows promiscuously upon the just and unjust, as the rain to fall and the sun to shine. The good things of God are chiefly peace of conscience and the joy in the Holy Ghost in this life; fruition of God's presence, and vision of his blessed face in the next, and these good things God never bestows upon the wicked, never withholds from the godly, and they are all cast up in one sum where it is said, Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt: Blessed are the pure in heart (and such are only they that walk uprightly) for they shall see God. But is walking uprightly such a matter with God, that it should be so rewarded? Is it not more pleasing to God to see us go stooping than walking uprightly, seeing stooping is the gait of humility, than which there is nothing to God more pleasing? It is no doubt a hard matter to stoop and go upright both at once, yet both must be done, and both indeed are done, are done at once by every one that is godly; but when I say they are done both at once, I mean not of the body, I know two such postures in the body both at once are impossible; but the soul can do it, the soul can stoop and go upright both at once; for then doth the soul walk upright before God, when it stoops in humility before God and men. Sir Richard Baker.

Verse 11. This is an immense fountain; the Lord fill all the buckets of our hearts at the spring, and give us capacious souls, as he hath a liberal hand. Thomas Adams.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 11.

  1. What God is to his people. A sun and shield.
    1. The source of all good;
    2. a defence from all evil.
    3. What he gives.
    4. Grace here;
    5. glory hereafter.
    6. What he withholds. All that is not good. If he withholds health or wealth, or his own smiles from us, it is because they are not good for us at that particular time. G. R.
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