For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Perhaps no other object in nature has so many attributes that fit it to represent a supreme and invisible Source of power, and life, and government, as the sun. It has peculiar aptness in representing a pure and spiritual God. These silent, mysterious, rejoicing influences of sunlight, that give to the heavens and the earth a charm that no tongue or pen has yet expressed, symbol to us the universal influence of the Divine mind that pervades creation with silent, invisible, life-giving power. What other symbol could give such a conception of purity, vitality, diffusiveness, continuance, and life-imparting power?
I. OBSERVE ITS UNIVERSALITY, AS A FIT EMBLEM OF THE UNIVERSAL POWER OF GOD. It is, in its centre and power, definitely located, as it were; and yet it reaches itself out, and fills immensity, and is as much in the east as in the west, in the north as in the south; and it pervades with endlessness, and, at the same time, every part of the vast physical domain of God. As much at night as by day is the stream falling down and beating upon this globe; and all the forces of light, its life-giving power, are borne, in this immeasurable flood, through infinite space. And is it difficult to rise from this glory of fulness to some faint conception of a mind that issues and impels streams of influence that go forth and fill the vast domain of existence? Is it impossible, when matter so nearly takes the proportion of universality or omnipresence, that mind, more ineffable and subtle and mobile than matter, should be able to bear itself abroad into the infinite realm?
II. CONSIDER, ALSO, THAT THIS FORTH-STREAMING OF LIGHT AND POWER FROM THE SUN HAS BEEN GOING ON THROUGH INCOMPUTABLE PERIODS OF TIME. The historic period of this earth — that, in other words, which records the appearance of the race of man upon it — is relatively short, being but five or six thousand years; while the scientific periods — namely, those which are known only by the interpretation of physical facts — are inconceivably greater. And through the one and the other, doubtless for millions of years, the sun has poured its vast stream of influence, undiminished. Nor is the source apparently wasted. For all purposes of illustration, it may be said that the sun gives without wasting, and is infinitely abundant, after measureless periods and spaces have been filled, in its luminous supply. Thus we rise to the conception of a mind that shoots forth creative and nourishing energy, and that pours it unwasted down through the ages of time, boundless, fathomless, undiminishing.
III. CONSIDER ALSO WHAT AN IMAGE OF ABUNDANCE THE SUN AFFORDS. The leaves of the trees, the blades of grass, all the parts of the growing vegetable kingdom, and the infinite swarms of minor insect life — all of them go to illustrate the thought of abundance, of multitudinousness. But what shall equal in these things the abundance of that solar flood that fills the heaven and the earth, that penetrates the soil, that saturates with heat rocks and stones, and that moves on for ever and for ever with illimitable processions, and everywhere both carries life and finds it? And where else shall there be anything that at all, for an illustration, equals the conception which we strive to form of the creative abundance of God, whose thoughts are for ever brooding, and yet whose life for ever is developed, and who is perpetually changing chaos into organization, and making organization progress through endless cycles of evolution, and through an inconceivable multiplicity of details?
IV. CONSIDER ITS STIMULATING AND DEVELOPING POWER. All things presuppose the sun. It seems to us unthinking, as though everything had been created with its life within itself; as though animals had their life within themselves; as though vegetation had its life in itself. Nothing has. That sun which the beast does not recognize, that sun which the insect does not know, is, after all, its father and its mother. I ask the daisy, "Who is your father?" and it speaks to me of the seed and the root; while I know that the unplanted sun is the father of the daisy. I ask the pastures, "Who has created you?" and they speak of the showers; no blade of grass speaks of the sun; but I know that the unbaptized sun has, by its light of fire, baptized these its children, and that there is nothing that grows in Nature, of animals, or birds, or insects, or plants, that is not the immediate result of that unconscious sun that works everywhere. And when men say to me, "Show me the presence of your God; show me some sign that He is in human affairs, guiding them: you talk of the Holy Ghost, of the Spirit of God, of the Divine inspiration, and of the soul of man as being born thereby; now, give me some token that it is so" — when men say this to me, I point them to all the world, and say, "By the same signs and tokens by which you recognize that the life of the globe is in the sun, that is a myriad of leagues distant; the sun, that sounds no trumpet and waves no banner; the sun, that steals silently through the air, and that works, though you see not the working, but only the fruit of working — by these same signs and tokens you may recognize that the life of the soul is in God."
V. THE SUN IS THE CENTRE OF ATTRACTION, THE HOLDING-FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE. Its invisible power harnesses all planets and stars. It guides the earth in all its courses. It is a government, in short. It not only gives vitality to all things of the earth, but it surrounds the earth, rendered vital, with guiding power, and holds it in its movements. So God is the centre of power, and the centre of government. By maintaining those eternal laws by which the human soul acts, He sits central. As the sun sits central in the solar system to hold the planets that roam only by its permission, so God sits central in the universe, holding this globe not only, but all its habiliments; and all its habiliments not only, but the soul of every man; and the soul of every man not only, but all that is in the human soul.
VI. CONSIDER THAT GENEROSITY AND IMPARTIALITY WHICH THE SUN EXERCISES. It makes no discriminations and distinctions. I have growing in my garden the portulaca in beds, for the sake of its glowing colour. You know that it is first cousin to purslane — a weed that everybody who undertakes to keep a garden hates. I have hoed it, and pulled it up, and denounced it, and spurned it, and given it to the fire and to the pigs with maledictions. But I cannot find out that the sun exercises any discrimination between the purslane growing in my garden and the portulaca, r call one flower and the other weed; but God's sun calls them both flowers. In this it is the emblem of God, who "maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good," etc.
VII. PROLIFIC AND INTIMATE IN BENEFIT AS THE SUN IS, IT IS OBSERVABLE THAT ONLY A PART OF ITS BENEFIT IS THRUST UPON MAN, AND THAT THAT PART IS MAINLY THAT WHICH CONCERNS HIS LOWER NECESSITIES. If we would go further, and use the sun as artists use it, and draw out its subtler elements of beauty, we must study its laws in that direction, and obey them. If we would derive from the employment of the sun its more perfect fruits and harvests, we must take the steps necessary to this end. Not upon every one does it thrust these bounties. They must be inquired for. So it is with the Sun of Righteousness. He sheds a providential watchfulness and protection upon all men, without regard to character; but if men would go higher, and perfect the understanding, refine the moral sentiments, purify the heart, and come to be God-like, developing the God that is in them, for this there is special labour required.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.