A Radiance

As much I realize that Scripture is to be read in context, often I find myself spring-boarding off a verse to some truth that, while it is truth, it isn’t necessarily the truth the particular verse I’m chewing on is intended to convey. Something I read this morning is a good case in point.

Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

(Psalm 34:5 ESV)

Paused after reading that and Moses came to mind. The man who had been in the presence of God at Sinai, having had such a mountain top experience that, when he came down off the holy hill, his face literally “sent out rays”. His face shone. To such an extent, that those who saw him were afraid to come near him (Ex. 34:29-30). Talk about having a glow. Talk about reflecting the glory of God. Talk about a promise to claim. Those who look to Him are radiant.

Yeah, but . . .

While I think that’s true, perhaps its more true from Exodus 34 than it is from Psalm 34. Different context, different meaning.

David’s not coming down from the mountain. He’s sitting in a cave. He’s not recounting having been on holy ground, but before an enemy monarch. He’s not thinking about the face he had gazed upon but the spittle he made run down his own face as he faked insanity in order to avoid being conscripted into service against his own people (1Sam. 21:10-15). David’s penning this verse not with a mountain top experience in mind, but recalling the fear and humiliation of having walked through the valley.

Now read those words.

Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

The radiance spoken of here, specifically, isn’t the reflective radiance of having encountered God’s glory, but the shining assurance of knowing God’s abiding presence. The CSB translates it “radiant with joy.” The darkness of difficult situations dispelled with the light of the promises of God. I will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:8). The aura that comes from hope founded in the word of God. The radiance of a countenance that has faith in God.

That’s why the songwriter could continue to pen:

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

(Psalm 34:6-8 ESV)

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the LORD. Happy, even joyful, are those who look to Him, in testing and trial and even terrible situations of their own making.

For, while eventually there will come rescue, in the meantime there will be radiance. The shining of the presence of God, the promises of God, and the power of God, emitted from those who trust in God. On the mountain, and in the valley.

By His grace. For His glory.

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