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God, The Shield-bearer of the Upright

God, The Shield-bearer of the Upright

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My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart"

— Psalm viL 10.

My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart"

— Psalm viL 10.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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GOD, THE SHIELD-BEARER OF THE UPRIGHTBY JOSEPH PARKER My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart" — Psalm viL 10.LITERALLY, "God is my shield-bearer." Morefiguratively still, "I hang my shield upon God."The idea is that of going to war, and having God as theGOD, THE SHIELD-BEARER OF THE UPRIGHT. 2Jcarrier, the bearer, of our shield ; so that before we can be .\struck down, God himself must be wounded and over- 7^**- 'powered. " My defence is of God." There are times ^ f when we need great defences. In not a few instances we /4 / 'may be able to find our own answer to accusation, or /supply our own explanation of perplexity and difficulty of/ ' uany kind ; but there arise in life crises, points of agony, . »¦¦when we can only be. silent, having first said to God,"Undertake for me, for in this case I am overwhelmed." .¦ , .-The assault may be utterly without foundation or reason ; , vcircumstances may have combined in a way perfectly^ / r ,_ mysterious : you are stunned by a great perplexity ; there — *is no answer in your mind or in your heart. You knowthat there should be an answer somewhere ; you look tothe whole heaven for a reply, and you feel that it willneed the whole heaven to come to your assistance undercircumstances so appalling.There are times when it seems to us but a small thing,or a course quite natural, to claim all heaven as our defence.These are supreme moments. We could not always livein such expectancy and rapture. The bulk of life iscommonplace, lived on an ordinary level, requiring thedischarge of common duties. Yet there are times whenall things change ; there are times when the whole heavenis no longer a defence, but an accusation. These are theterrible moments of life. The fool may think he can makesuch a noise in his own head as to escape all that
controversy, but he cannot do so permanently. The wine-drinker may think to drown all this difficulty in his cups,but there is no cup deep enough to hold such a case : nolight above, no solidity underfoot, no fragrance in the air.Where then is man's defence? Let man in such momentslook within ; let him trace the course of his own spirit and28 STUDIES I TEXTS.action ; and if he can find in that action reasons for self-condemnation, then let him be penitent and broken-hearted,let him find God through his tears. The tears must notbe selfish ; no man must make an investment of hisbroken-heartedness. We are tempted of the devil to bargainwith God, saying to him, "If you will put such-and-suchclauses into the deed of settlement between us, we shallproceed accordingly ; favour us, and we shall pray ; get usout of this perplexity, and we shall pay tithe." God doesnot thus covenant Repentance must be perfect, vital,sincere, all-inclusive. He does not repent who cries simplybecause the consequences are so painfu l. Contrition hasnothing to do with consequences. The real contritiongoes back to causes and principles and realities. To thereal contrition one sin seems to deserve all hell ; and toreal contrition one sin seems to blot out all the beauty of the sky. ot until we get the right conception of sincan we proceed to the right expression of broken-heartednesson account of sin. Many a villain has wept, and said, " Iam sorry/' because his head ached, because his knees smotetogether and would no longer stand stoutly under him.That is not repentance ; these are the tears of folly andof selfishness. When, however, the heart does enter intothe mystery of contrition, self-condemnation, then the heartbegins to feel that the defence after all is of God.God may be both accuser and defender. He prefers theaccusation with the reluctance of wounded love ; throughthe accusation he causes to shine the light of the prepareddefence: his mercy endureth for ever. He does manythings on purpose for the sinner without seeming to dothem. That is the ingenuity of love ; that is the inventive-ness of fatherhood. Things are found on the road whichare surprises; bushes are aflame, but not in smoke, not
GOD, THE SHIELD-BEARER OF THE UPRIGHT 29being consumed ; they are the shrines of glory, they willnever turn to the ashes of destruction. So, then, God isnot only the defender of the positively righteous, but heis the defender of the sinner, when the offender falls downin contrition and self-condemnation. There is a defencewhich has no such explanation. We are all prepared todefend the righteous. There is very little in such defence.We may so defend the righteous as to add to our ownreputation ; we may undertake to reply on behalf of aspotless character in order that we may show our owncharacter to be spotless. We may compose paragraphsabout virtue, and pronounce them as if we believe them.He is the true defender of his friend who, having seenthat friend's error, has also seen that friend's repentance,and who interprets the error through the contrition, andsees it melting away, dissolved under such gracious tears.If you only open your mouth for the Pharisee, the self-righteous, or the really righteous, you can claim no chivalry.You should defend the man who is utterly wrong in theone direction, and utterly broken down in consequenceof it in the other. Alas ! there is no such defence. Mendare not imperil their own repute in order to save the manwho is within one step of perdition, but is yet therepraying and crying to be saved.The psalmist, however, falls back upon the vital elementof character : " My defence is God, which saveth theupright in heart' 1 Let there be no mistake about this.Is God only the defender of the righteous, who have neversinned? o such meaning is conveyed by this textM The upright in heart " may not always be the uprightin conduct Men cannot go beyond conduct ; God goesinto motive, purpose, secret thought " The righteous Godtrieth the hearts and reins." May there then be broken.30 STUDIES I TEXTS.conduct, and yet a heart truly upright before God ? Yes,there may be ; and that is our hope. It is through thatwonderful conception, which appears to be a paradox anda contradiction, that the whole gospel of the Cross comes.Do not be discouraged. God does not look upon us as

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