THE LORD GOD 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 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 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; ‘Thy 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 anxieties, which may well be excited through the operation of the other character, that of a sun? And am I not warrantedÂ—nay, am I not living far below my privilegeÂ—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? Asa 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? MyselfÂ—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 trueÂ—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 Shield”Â—”He will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”?