It is not hard for those of us who have watched a sunrise, whether in our own backyard or on a special trip, to equate the sun’s brilliance with God Himself. And that comparison is not our sole propriety. The Psalms frequently use metaphors from nature to describe the Lord and the sun is one of the most obvious choices. While people often equate David with authorship of the psalms, he is not the only composer of these poetic masterpieces. The “sons of Korah” are among several other individuals and groups which composed or compiled the collection of psalms we find in our Bibles today. As descendants of Levi they were assigned the duties of gate-keeping (1 Chr. 26:1, 19) but later rose to prominence as Temple musicians. Psalms 42, 44-49, 84-85, and 87-88 are all credited to them. Psalm 84 has spawned its own contemporary music versions as well. Nature imagery runs throughout its verses culminating with the grand statement that “The Lord God is a sun and a shield” in verse 11.
Most of us know that light is foundational to life. I am no scientist, nor did I excel in the sciences when I was a student. But I do remember learning about photosynthesis and I’m always intrigued by those machines that use light to help soothe aching joints and muscles. And as a photographer, I know that without light, even a very small amount, I’m not going to get much of a picture. What an appropriate metaphor for the Lord. According to Psalm 84 His hand guides swallows to build their homes (v. 3) and puts the desire to travel through barren valleys to worship in Jerusalem (vv. 5-7) in the hearts of men. As the fundamental element to all life, the Lord is both protector (a shield- vv. 9, 11) and sun (v. 11). Like the sun beams which fall upon plant life and cause those flowers to bloom and grow, the Lord showers grace and glory upon the person who “walks uprightly” before Him.
Most of us tend to think that grace is purely a New Testament concept. But the word here (hen) means “an unmerited favor or regard in God’s sight; a special standing with God”; a meaning clearly continued, not developed, in the New Testament (Jn. 1:14-17; Ac. 15:11; 20:24; Rom. 3:24; 4:16; 5:2; Eph. 1:7; 2:5, 8-9; 4:7; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 4:16 and so many more!). We’ve all enjoyed the benefits of a sunny day in our lifetime. Some days the sun is so bright we find ourselves seeking shelter under the nearest shade tree. But those glorious days when the sun is shining and the temperature is just right, those are the kind of days that lift our spirits and make us feel great. They are a perfect picture of the glory which God bestows on His people. The Lord as our sun withholds “no good thing” from those who walk uprightly before Him (v.11). The wording here signifies something that is appealing and pleasant to the senses and a relationship that is pure. Like a plant which sits upon a windowsill and follows the path of the sun throughout the day, our faces should be turned towards Him constantly. When they are, we can’t help but called ourselves “blessed” (v. 12). This word describes a person’s state of bliss, and in Biblical terms it is used of a person or nation who enjoys a relationship with God (Dt. 33:29; Jb. 5:17; Ps. 33:12; 146:5). So, take a cue from nature and Psalm 84:11 this week. When you feel the sun falling upon your face, remember it is God’s grace and glory falling upon you and give thanks to the One Who made it all possible (Rom. 5:15).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 6/19/2016