I came across this thought while re-reading an old journal this week. It struck me as appropriate in honor of Father’s Day, and in observance of the imminent official start of summer, to look at our Heavenly Father as described by the sons of Korah:
The Lord God is both sun and shield. He will give grace and glory.” Psalm 84:11
“Was the psalmist being clever?” I wondered. Is this a contradiction? Or a paradox? How can God be both my light and shade? Both tanning bed and sunscreen? Both sun roof and umbrella?
But God is called both, over and over again:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7)
“For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat…” (Isaiah 25:4)
The psalmist wants to “dwell in the shadow of Your wing” (see Psalm 57:1), but also claims that “in Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9). Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). But He also laments,
“How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)
So are we walking in the Light of the Lord, or cowering behind Him with eyes squeezed shut? Perhaps it is both, in a sense:
- We need illumination: We are as travelers in a strange land who should journey by day, not stumble around in the dark. If we must travel at night, a good map, well-lit roads, headlamps will all help.
- And we need protection: When the heat and glare of noon is too fierce, it is a relief to find a cool overhang where we can rest. We can still look out from there and see the path we need to travel. Perhaps we are fortunate enough to have a covered wagon (or an air-conditioned car) so that we can go on our way under the burning beams of sun without harm.
“The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.” (Psalm 121:5-7)
God’s Word is a light for our path (Proverbs 119:105). He makes things clear. And He protects us from evil and gives us rest (Psalm 23). He is the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night (Exodus 13:21).
Our dad (GBL and JTR’s) taught and guided us, enlightening our understanding so that we could become responsible adults. And he protected us from harm, to the best of his ability, so that we could arrive at adulthood safely.
As you enjoy the warmth of summer sunshine and the refreshing shade of trees or awnings, take time to thank your Heavenly Father for His guidance and His protection, His “sun and shade”.
And if you have been blessed with an earthly father like ours, take time to thank him, too.