Christians like the Sun!
William Nicholson, 1862
"So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may those who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength." Judges 5:31
This language concludes the song of triumph sung by Deborah and Barak. It celebrates the triumph of Israel over Jabin, a Canaanite king, whose armies fought against the Israelites by Sisera.
The text is to be considered as a prophecy rather than as an imprecation. "So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may those who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength."
I. The Character of God's People:"They love him."
This is the character of all God's people. They acknowledge him as their Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer. They consider his goodness in these respects, and they love him.
1. This love has been implanted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Formerly they hated him and his service. "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:5
2. Their love is sincere. It must be so if the Spirit has created it in the heart, "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity!" Ephesians 6:24. The love of many, however, is merely an empty profession.
3. This love is supreme. "Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26
4. This love is practical. It dwells in the heart — and shows itself in the life. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres!" 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
5. Their love is self-denying. It makes sacrifices — it encounters difficulties — it has braved sufferings and death, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again!" 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
II. The Similitude by Which the Character of God's People Is Illustrated.
The saints are called "lights of the world." In the text, the comparison is to the SUN. Observe:
1. The Sun receives its light from the creative energy of God. Psalm 136:8. Just so, Christians have derived their light from God himself. "God has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ!" 2 Corinthians 4:6.
They have been taught by God's Spirit, which has taken of the things that are Christ's, and revealed them to their minds. They have been enlightened to see . . .
their guilty and ruined condition,
the method of acceptance through Christ,
and his suitability as a Savior.
2. Christians resemble the sun in beauty. Nothing can be more beautiful than light. Beautiful in itself — the sun is also that which unfolds the beauty of all other objects. "Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." So Christians are beautiful in their individual spiritual character — in their associated character, knit together by the bond of holy love. So Christians are beautiful in their holiness which adorns the soul and the life. Compare the character of Paul the Apostle — with the character of Saul of Tarsus.
3. The sun is a visible object; it excites attention, and inspires admiration. The course of Christians is not hidden — but manifest: they are lights of the world, cities set on a hill, living epistles. "Let your light shine." Though Christians should do nothing through vain glory — yet their conduct should be of such a character as to command attention.
4. The Christian resembles the sun in usefulness. What a dark world this would be, if the natural sun were to cease its shining! Just so, what would the world be without Christianity?
(1.) As the rising sun dispels clouds and darkness, so the believer rises above the changes and calamities of life — he dispels the mists and darkness of prejudice — proves that religion does not tend to licentiousness — that it is not a system of melancholy.
(2.) Like the sun, the Christian spreads the most beneficial and delightful effects around. The sun is the great spirit of the world, in the light of which all things are made to rejoice — perpetual spring attends his course — all things revive at his approach, and assume a new face of youth and beauty — winter, with its frosts and desolating blasts, flees away. But let the sun depart, and nature will sicken and become deformed.
Just so is the life of the Christian — and the benevolent efforts of the Church, in conjunction with Divine power, are calculated to make the desert blossom as the rose, etc. Isaiah 35:1,2. The people of God labor to save souls from death — they are the salt of the earth — the conservators of the world — the pillars of creation, by their prayers, influence, etc.
(3.) The influence of the sun is very extensive, reaching to every creature. The charity of Christians would save the whole world.
5. The light of the sun is irresistible. Who can say to it, "Hitherto shall you come," etc. No one can stop the work of the Church, for it is God's work, Isaiah 55:11. The light of the Gospel dazzles and confounds the enemies of Christ. Job 24:13; John 3:18.
6. Christians, like the sun, shine more and more unto the perfect day. They grow in grace, in knowledge, purity, peace, joy, until their course terminates in the meridian noontide splendor of Heaven!