For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in You.
These verses hold some huge promises.
But let's begin at the the beginning. What does it mean that the Lord is a sun and shield?
Let's start by considering how the Lord is like a sun. We've had a nice stretch of weather, but today the sun did not come out. Gray clouds as thick as freshly mixed grout seal off our view of the heavens. I was at the hair salon earlier today, and all the women were yawning and commenting, "I just can't wake up today." I told them, "That's because the sun never came out."
The sun sets our body clocks and helps us to wake up. Who doesn't feel more positive and hopeful on a beautiful, sunny day? God also shines His face on us and awakens us to our purpose in Him, strengthening us and urging us on to our potential.
The sun shines on the plants and causes them to photosynthesize and grow, even to store energy that can be passed on to other organisms that consume them. God's power at work in us makes us grow, too, and through our growth we are ultimately able to minister His grace to others.
The sun lights our way so we can see where we are going and what we are doing. It brightens the colors of spring flowers and fall foliage. It ripens crops during the summer months and sparkles on freshly fallen snow in the winter. In a similar way, God grants us vision, direction and purpose, and then He fills us with joy as we walk with Him along the way He has prepared for us.
As the sun is the ultimate energy source for the earth, God is our ultimate energy source. God is a sun for us.
He is also a shield. He covers and protects us. He is strong and trustworthy. But, as a shield is useless in battle if left behind in the castle keep, so the protective nature of God diminishes when we stray from His will. You really need to think of this concept in context of the entire psalm (84), which is all about being close to God. He is our shield, but if we ignore Him, stray from Him and immerse ourselves in sin and rebellion, we ought not assume that He will prevent calamity from overtaking us. He might even cause a calamity, in order to jog our memories and prompt us to turn back to Him.
The scripture says, "The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."
That is pretty overwhelming. The NIV translation replaces the words, "those who walk uprightly" with the words, "those whose walk is blameless." This used to discourage me, because I know that I am certainly not blameless. I figured that, blameworthy as I know I am, I must not qualify for this promise. Then I realized that it is a promise to me anyway, because IN CHRIST, I actually am blameless, because of the blood He shed for my forgiveness. He will keep me blameless while He is making me blameless (1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 2 Corinthians 5:21). So it is not that we are perfectly upright all the time, but that we are learning to depend on Jesus to keep us upright more and more each day.
And if we are learning to depend on Jesus to keep us upright more and more each day, then He will bestow favor and honor, and not withhold anything that He knows is good for us. Of course, that doesn't mean we will always get what we want... the more we mature, the more we begin to understand that what we want is not always what is good for us. I may want a better job, or a different house, or to live closer to my extended family, or to have better health insurance coverage, or to be healed from fibromyalgia, or to move to a sunnier climate.
But ultimately I need to trust God with my desires, as well as everything else, and then I will understand that verse 12 is true: "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You."
It always seems to come back to our ability to trust God. Two things I need to pray for:
(1) Lord, please make my desires more in line with Your will.
(2) Lord, please help me to trust you more.