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. O LORD of hosts blessed is the man that tmsteth in thee. Psalm 84.1112.
GRACE AND GLORY
4th June 1975
Mr. Stanley Delves
“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. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that tmsteth in thee.” Psalm 84.11,12.
We are not told who the author of this Psalm was, only that it is a Psalm for the Sons of Korah. One would gather it was David, partly because it expresses that desire for the house and worship of God that we know was so characteristic of David’s own heart.
In this beautiful Psalm we see first, an instructive metaphor, “The Lord God is a sun and shield”. There is secondly a very comprehensive promise,’ ‘God will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” A most comprehensive promise indeed, it leaves nothing out. Then thirdly, we have a confirming benediction, “O Lord of Hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee”; and that seems to confirm it all. May the Lord direct our meditation into these truths.
First then, we have an instructive metaphor; because of course, this is a metaphor: the Lord God is not a sun or a shield literally. It has pleased the Holy Spirit in the scriptures, to express divine things in a metaphorical manner; because divine things, abstractly taken, are very difficult to express because of their sublime and infinite nature and character. Natural things are suitably expressed in natural expressions;
divine things need a divine language to express them, which is not possible to us. So they are expressed in our ordinary human language; but human language can hardly express adequately divine things, because they are so infinitely above all human things in themselves, and especially this is true of the nature and being of the Lord God Himself. And so the Holy Spirit has expressed things concerning the being and nature of God in a metaphorical way, because metaphor is more suitable and adaptable to our capacity of understanding. If we consider, to begin with, the significance of the expressions, sun and shield, we may be led into the truth and meaning of the metaphor itself. “The Lord God is a sun”. Now there are three features about the sun, which are very expressive of the truth concerning the Lord God. The sun is a source of light; it is a source of warmth; and it is the centre of attraction. In these three considerations we have the very nature of the Lord God expressed.
First, the sun is the source of light, and so we have that scripture which expresses it, that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” God is light, essentially, eternally, and in all the glory of holiness in Himself, He is pure, infinite, holy light; and in Him there is no darkness of error, or confusion, or ignorance or any of those conditions that darken our finite understanding. He is pure, infinite light in Himself; independently of anything outside of His own divine nature. We need to be enlightened,
never does God need to be enlightened. He is light, pure, infinite, holy, glorious light.
Not only is there light in the sun but warmth. What is the warmth of that light? My friends, the warmth of that light is love. Love is warmth, in spiritual things, and it imparts warmth, and where there is no love, there is no warmth. There may be light with regard to understanding, but without love there is a coldness. It is all so barren of that which enriches and satisfies and warms and heals us. So now, you have these two expressions in this text. God is light, and God is love.
Then there is the attraction of the sun. There goes forth from the sun a light and warmth which attracts. Now God is in Himself most blessedly attractive. If we knew God in the way I must go on to show – if we knew that God, how blessed He is, what a God of love He is, if we could enter more into the feeling and spirit of that word of the Psalmist “Blessed art thou, O Lord” we should feel everything in us attracted to that source of infinite blessedness. For as God is blessed in Himself, He is the source of all blessing to those who are blessed by Him.
But we come into difficulties here, for how can that light shine into us, that light of holiness into a sinner’s heart? And how can that love warm us, who are alienated from Him? And how can that blessing enrich us in our ruined distant condition? A condition so provocative, not of God’s love, but of God’s wrath, because sin is a provocation to God. It is not an attraction to His love, it is a provocation of His anger. The wrath of God is the infinite reaction of divine holiness against sin. Where you get sin and holiness you get wrath. It is the reaction of holiness against sin; so that were it possible for that light to shine, that light of love, were it possible for us to see how blessed that God is, the effect of it on our hearts would cause us to say, “Where God is, I shall never come: because between me and my sinfulness and ruin and darkness and provocation, and that God of life and love, there is an alienation that I can never remove. God is light, but that light is most terrifying. God is love, but I can never expect that love to come to me. God is an attraction, but I’m afraid of it.”
Let us consider the next point. God is light, and God is love, and this light and love is manifested in Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ is the Mediator and Redeemer, and the Friend of sinners. The glory of God is manifested in the person of His dear Son, in the eternity of the Sonship of Jesus Christ; but when He became a man in our nature, a man amongst men, then that glory shone in His humanity. “We beheld”, the apostle says, “his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Now take into meditation that word of the Apostle to the Hebrews concerning Jesus Christ, “Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person”. “The brightness of his glory” – that means the bright shining forth of that sun, of that light, of
that love, and of that essential blessedness of God’s nature, the bright shining forth. Or you take another scripture, for there’s nothing like scripture to confirm scripture: “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” and Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the Redeemer, the Reconciler: He comes between to make up the breach, and He has made up the breach by His sacrifice that has taken away sin. The sun of God’s glorious light and love shining in Jesus Christ loses nothing of its glory, but everything of its terror. It makes God to appear attractive. Jesus Christ has put away the alienation, established the way to the Father. I very much appreciate a word of Dr. Watts with regard to this point. He writes thus, “Jesus, in whom the Godhead’s rays beam forth with milder majesty”, – not lesser majesty, but milder majesty: because in those beams of light that shine in Jesus Christ there is no terror; there is holiness but no terror; there is attraction, but no dread. To see that glory shining in Jesus Christ attracts us, it really attracts us, it makes us feel “Oh to know that God to be my God, to possess His blessing in my heart, oh for that light to shine more clearly, that love to flow more richly, that’s what I long for”. Now that is the shining of the sun in the face of Jesus Christ, it is attractive, it is warming, it is enlightening.
Now take another point. As the light and love of God shines in Jesus Christ, so it is reflected to us in the gospel. “For we all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image”, the glass there unquestionably is the glass of the gospel, not the law. Truly the glory of God is in the law; and there it is all terrible, but the glory of God in the gospel is all attractive, because the gospel is all for sinners. It is adaptable to sinners, it is suitable for sinners, it is intended for sinners, it is a blessing to sinners and for no-one else. The glass, as the apostle uses that term, is not a glass you see through, but a glass you see in. It is a mirror, in which you see an object reflected. That is exactly what the word of the gospel is. It is that glass in which the beams of His blessed sun of light and love are reflected, and it is because of that reflection that the word of the gospel is so precious and is so wonderful to us. It is because the light of the glory of God is there; it is the blessed gospel, the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and we can never see that light nor feel the attraction of that love apart from the gospel. Creation is not sufficient; the law is forbidding but the gospel is attractive.
We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten our understandings to discern the light of that glorious sun in the gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit is essential in this solemn matter, because there is a veil of ignorance, and unbelief, and carnality over the mind so that even though the gospel is preached in simplicity and the glory of God is reflected in it, men turn dark and blind eyes to it, and do not see anything of this glory. They see the glass, but not the glory of God in it, and so it is the very blessed work of the Holy Spirit to deal with this condition in the mind, because the light enters into the heart through the understanding. Truth enters into the heart through the understanding. It is something like a porch to a house, if the porch is blocked up nothing can enter into the house. You must clear the way before there can be any entrance. Now it is the work of the Holy
Spirit to clear the understanding of its confusion and other difficulties, to clear the way for the entrance of the light of the gospel or the sun of God to shine into the heart; and so you read again of the work of the Holy Spirit, “that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened ye may know what is the hope of his calling and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”. So as the Holy Spirit enlightens the understanding, light begins to shine through the understanding into the heart; then we begin to feel that light, and that love, and that attraction, and our hearts respond, for the responding of the heart is in the very nature of faith: and is expressed in the urgent prayer “O send out thy light and thy truth. Lord. Send out that light, O send it into my heart, enlighten me with that pure light, and warm my cold heart with warm beams of love, and attract my very heart to thee as my God, my Portion and my All.”
Then there is another part of this metaphor. The Lord God is a sun “and a shield”; and both features of this metaphor meet a condition of need in us. It is sufficient that the sun should shine in our hearts to give us light and love, but we need protection as well as enlightening. The Lord God is a shield as well as a sun. This expression is frequent in the Psalms. “The Lord God is a shield”. “Thou art a shield for me,” the Psalmist says, “and the lifter up of mine head”. A shield implies danger and it is a protective not an offensive part of the armour, the sword is that. The shield implies danger, and danger there is; especially from one quarter, and that is the “adversary who goeth about as a roaring lion”. All who are enlightened and enlivened spiritually are targets for his attack; and his temptations are described very aptly as ‘fiery darts’. But we are not strong enough to shield ourselves from dangers and temptations. Whoever thinks he is, is in the more dangerous state because he thinks he can shield himself. It will occur to your minds at once that Peter thought he could shield himself, that he was strong enough, that his loyalty was strong enough to Jesus Christ, and his love strong enough to Jesus Christ, to shield him; howbeit the Lord warned him that he was not, and that he would surely fall by that temptation into denying the Lord. Peter thought his love was a sufficient shield; ‘Lord’, he said, ‘I couldn’t, I love thee too much to deny thee.’ But love is no shield. Love is good to
warm the heart, but it’s not sufficient to shield from danger and temptation.
But this metaphor is very instructive. A feature of shields, more in the days when shields were used in warfare, was that they were made of successive layers of metal. It was found that a shield made of layers of metal was stronger and lighter than a shield made of one solid mass. Now the Lord God is a shield in this way, that every divine perfection is like layer upon layer upon layer of the shield. For instance, there is His power. He is able to shield us, and is the only power that can, for He is the only wise God. We need wisdom to shield us as well as power, for power without wisdom might, in some subtle way, be overcome. Wisdom without power is not a sufficient shield. It might be overcome. Power without wisdom is not a sufficient shield, because craft might deceive and so successfully assail. God is the only wise God: no stratagem can ever deceive Him: no craft of the devil can ever overcome His wisdom. He can see it immediately, yea, before we are assailed by it. It is our want of
wisdom that often exposes us to trouble “We ever into folly run.”
Then there is not only wisdom and power, but there is faithfulness. “He is faithful that hath promised.” And then God is full of compassion, and of great mercy, for His compassion is engaged to shield His people. “He knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust.” So the Lord God is a sun and a shield and every divine perfection shields the child of God.
It may be asked. Why then does a child of God ever fall? Does he ever fall? Yes, he does, there’s no question about it. But there is a two-fold answer to that. To begin with, he will never fall finally; God will shield him from that. And when he does fall, it is not because God is not his shield; but God permits it for salutary reasons, but recovers him out of it. We read in Revelation 2.10 that “the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days.” Now the purpose of Satan was not to cast them into prison, but to cast them into hell. Satan would have cast them into hell.’ ‘No,” said God,’ ‘No, No, it shall not be “; and although he was permitted to cast them into prison .still they were shielded. Job was shielded, although he did not realize it. If then the Lord God is so blessed a Sun, and so certain a Shield, what is it for us, but to seek to be enlightened, and enlivened, and warmed, and attracted by that Sun; and to commit ourselves to the protection of that Shield. “Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength”.
“The Lord will give grace and glory”. Although it reads as a statement; yet insomuch as we must regard this word as having the authority of the divine inspiration, we may regard it as a promise. God has promised that He will give grace and glory. This is very comprehensive, for I can see that grace covers everything that we need this side of eternity, and glory promises everything beyond it. Everything in this life is covered by the promise of grace, and beyond this life the wonderful, incomprehensibly full, promise of glory. Grace now, glory then; what a promise this is! For the Lord never promises little things to His people. He gives as Peter says, exceeding great and precious promises, and very precious. A promise always implies an object, it is always, exceeding great, and very precious. Grace and glory are great promises, and very precious. A promise always implies an object it is made to someone. To whom does God promise grace and glory? It is very certain, that the Lord will give grace to all He has chosen in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world to this very end. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”. That God has chosen a people unto eternal glory, I think is a most comforting, and a most blessed truth, because for one thing it makes certain the salvation of all who are in that covenant, and it excludes no-one who seeks grace at the hand of a gracious God, but it ensures that some shall have grace and glory. You think of that great number before the throne of God who have entered into that glory. A great number that no man can number before the throne of God who have entered into that glory. A great number that no man can number before the throne of God and of the Lamb. Not one of them would be there if God had not chosen them in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.
Also this blessed truth ensures the continuation of the church of God in the world. Now when you consider to what a low margin those who fear God have come to numerically, if it were not for God’s sovereign purpose of grace in election, I see nothing to have prevented there being none at all to fear God in the world. Why not? if they get down to such a low proportion. Take Great Britain for instance because it is before our eyes. Someone said to me, “You know, there’s not more than two percent of the people in Crowborough attend any of the places of worship.” I said, “Surely not”. He had worked it out – so many people, and so many places of worship, and you can average out pretty much how many each place of worship attracts – he was about right. And when you could not possibly feel that that two percent were all true possessors of the grace of God: you get down to one percent, probably it’s a fair estimate. Well now, what’s to prevent it in the next generation, that one percent has gone and there’s no one left? My friends, election secures the continuation of the church of God in the world, and nothing else does secure it; because if it depends upon man’s will, what is there to prevent a total apostasy from the ways of God? This is an encouraging doctrine. The Lord will give grace to all that He has chosen in Jesus Christ to salvation. They will all be born, they will all be born again. They will all be brought to repentance, and belief, and faith in Jesus Christ: there’s no question about it. And if they die in infancy, they will still be saved if they are amongst those that the Lord has appointed to salvation. It is equally true that the Lord will give grace and glory to all redeemed by Jesus Christ. Why should He not do so? Surely if the Lord Jesus Christ in His grace has borne the sin of any in His own body on the tree, made a perfect atonement for the guilt of that person, opened the way for the grace of God to flow into his heart; the Lord will give him grace. What? Will God give His only begotten Son to die for sinners, and then not give them grace? We may certainly say that the Lord will give grace and glory to all redeemed by Jesus Christ. But that is not a perfect setting forth of this truth. It is equally true that the Lord will give grace to all who truly and believingly seek Him; the door of His mercy stands open all day to all comers – remember that! The door of God’s mercy, through which grace is given, stands open to all comers, and Jesus said. Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Which is best, my friends, to cavil about the
doctrine of election, or to come seeking that grace which God freely promises to give?
The Lord will give grace and glory. What grace will He give? – He will certainly give converting grace; and He will give forgiving grace; and He will certainly give sanctifying grace; and He will surely give persevering grace; and He will certainly give glory to all to whom He has given grace. For grace and glory are inseparable: they are not two distinct blessings, one pertaining to this life, and one to the world to come. They are one blessing in two communications, for it has been quite rightly and simply said, that grace is glory in the bud, and glory is grace in the flower; and grace is the preparation for glory, and glory is the consummation of grace; and grace is very much a matter of seeking and desiring and praying, and glory is the matter of enjoying.
The Lord will give grace, willingly, freely, and fully. He will give
grace and glory, no good thing according to God’s estimate of what is good – not necessarily ours; and God’s estimate will always be felt to be right in the outcome; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Walking uprightly is the effect of His grace in love. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee, for to that man that trusteth in Thee, Thou art a sun and a shield. Thou wilt give grace and glory and withhold no good thing: and that man is blessed – he is blessed in life – he may have, he very likely will have, trial and trouble and sorrow, but he is a blessed man: God is his portion for ever and ever. He is blessed when he comes to the end, he finds that it is a sweet thing to fall asleep in Jesus. He is blessed in the resurrection, when he is raised in the Saviour’s spiritual image and likeness, and he is blessed for eternal ages to come. “O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”