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.
Let us consider the several characters here given of God, and the several blessings which, in one way or another, these several characters ensure to the righteous.
1. It is the combination of characters which we regard as most deserving of attention: "The Lord God is a sun and shield." If we consider God as a "sun," there is much of grand and gorgeous imagery which comes sweeping before us. God is emphatically our "sun," our source of light, as showing us ourselves. Conscience is the candle of Deity; and it will burn long and brightly in the natural man, though he thicken the atmosphere with the impure vapours of passion and lust; but it is not the candle of Deity which can search the dark corners of the heart — it must be Deity itself. "O Lord," says the psalmist, "Thou hast searched me and known me"; and again he prays, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts." God, as a sun, saith, Let there be light, and there is light., and as it was in the first creation, this light discloses an unshapen chaos; and man looks into Himself thus suddenly and supernaturally illuminated; and everywhere may he discover nothing but moral confusion. Even the light itself is the only beautiful and glowing thing — all on which it rests is deformity, wildness, and corruption; and ever after God is a sun to the man, by enabling him to carry on that very process of research and discovery which is indispensable to all progress in righteousness. According to the expression of St. Paul — "He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts." And just as it is when the sunbeam finds its way into a darkened room, you see a thousand floating moats which would otherwise have escaped observation; so the piercing rays of Deity, entering the solitudes of the soul, will cause the chambers which had passed for cleansed and garnished, to appear full of the atoms of a widely diffused sinfulness. The light is carried into the corners which had been hitherto overlook
1. The sun shows him the hopelessness of the task in which he is engaged, and finds him fresh work to do, leaving him as far off as ever from completion. But now turn your thoughts on the combination of characters — "The Lord God is a sun and shield." As a sun He shows me more and more my sinfulness; but then as a shield He gives me power to oppose it, and an 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 how He has laid the load on a Surety who can bear it away 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 my thoughts on that righteousness of His Son which is mysteriously conveyed to all who believe on His name. As a sun, in short, He brings facts 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 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; making me desirous, and fitting me to receive them. Who, then, shall wonder that under the combination of the characters of God the psalmist should break into expressions of confidence and assurance? Take the catalogue of things which inasmuch as we are fallen creatures, God as our sun instructs us to fear, and you find that, inasmuch as we are redeemed creatures, God as our shield enables us to defy. Who, then, shall doubt that there results from the combination of characters exactly that system of counterpoise which is generally to be traced in the dealings of the Almighty? Who can feel, if indeed he have been disciplined by that twofold tuition which informs man first that "he hath destroyed himself," and then that "God hath laid help on One who is mighty," the former conciliating, the latter encouraging — the one making way for the other, so that the sinner is emptied of every false confidence, that he may be tempted to courage — who, we say, can fail to draw from the combination of the Divine characters the inference drawn by the psalmist — to exclaim, that is, after recording that "the Lord God is a sun and shield, He will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."
2. Let us now examine more attentively the psalmist's expression of confidence, that "He will give grace and glory." Did David mean that God will "give grace here," and "glory hereafter"? No doubt the words are susceptible of this interpretation; and a very noble meaning it is — referring everything to the free gift of God, the power through which we become meet for heaven, and the heaven itself into which the righteous shall enter. And yet it would appear as though the psalmist were referring specially to what takes place upon earth. He applies the "shield "and the "sun" in his description of Deity, though it is only at present that God is as a shield to His people; in the higher state of being there will be no enemy, no difficulty, and, withal, no need of a shield. And if the "sun" and the "shield" may both be most properly referred to the Divine character, as a present display of grace, the "glory" may be presumed to belong to the Divine dealings, as at present experienced. In other words, "grace and glory" are represented as in some sense one and the same, as though grace were glory, and glory were grace. The truth contained in the clause is, then, that which may be derived from the saying of St. Peter, when he bids us "be sober, and hope to the end; for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ." "The revelation of Jesus Christ" is to be at the consummation of all things, when everlasting happiness shall be entered on by the faithful; and nevertheless it is grace, not glory, which, according to the apostle, is then to be brought to the Church — an intimation which is only to be explained by identifying grace with glory — by supposing, that is, that glory differs from grace in measure, rather than in kind. And this is what we consider is taught by David in our text: he speaks of what God now communicates to the believer; but he speaks both of grace and glory. He represents, that is, grace as glory commenced, and glory as grace consummated. We do not wish to confound the engine with the work, or to make out that the process is the result. Of course, in strictness of speech, grace is the instrument, glory the produce. But if the glory lie in the being freed from sin, and if it be grace which is gradually setting us free, the hope of grace is the true "hope of glory." Nor is it only freedom from sin which grace effects. It effects also consecration to the service of God. There are none but true Christians who really fulfil the great end of their being — that of promoting the glory of their Maker; and it is not through the working of any mere human principle that they propose to themselves so sublime an object. There must have been a change in the affections, a withdrawment of the heart from temporary interests, a vivid recognition of the position which we occupy through creation and redemption, ere the end at which our actions aim can in any degree be for the honour of God. it is therefore to grace, as a principle implanted by God, that we ascribe every effort to advance God's glory. If it be the direct result of the workings of grace that we are led to consecrate ourselves to the service of the Most High, let grace have unrestrained sway, and dust and ashes though we be, should we not become ineffably glorious? It will not be the robe of light that shall make us glorious, though brighter threads than sunbeams shall be woven into its texture; it will not be the palm and the harp that shall make us glorious, though the one shall have grown on the trees of paradise, and the other have been strung with the Mediator's hands. We shall be glorious, as ministering to God's glory — glorious as devoted to the service of the Almighty — glorious as employed on the business, and delighting in the commands of our Maker — glorious with a more than angel's glory, because entrusted with more than an angel's freedom. And if this be our glory, yea, then, poetry may give her music to what she counts more beautiful, and painting its tints to more sparkling things; but Christianity, the scheme of human restoration, recognizes no glory but the living to God's glory! If this be our glory, where is the word which describes glory so emphatically as "grace"? Grace is that which produces consecration to God's service, and therefore is grace nothing less than glory begun.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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.