If the writer of Psalm 73 tells us that coming into the sanctuary, drawing close to God, is the answer to our perplexities with God’s ways, then Psalm 34 tells us that when we do that, when we come close to God, people notice. But let’s track back a bit. When we are spiritually troubled, it shows! We can become ‘cast down’ and this will affect not just our soul – Psalm 42:5,6,11,- but our whole demeanor. Often the Jews would have ‘put on sackcloth and ashes’ as an outward expression of their sadness but, as I think many of us will recognise, having a ‘crestfallen’ expression will give it away, regardless of what we are wearing.
Asaph, who wrote Psalmist 73, found the answer to his questions and issues with God when he “came into the sanctuary of God” (verse 17) where he would almost certainly have enjoyed some thanksgiving, praise and worship. As he drew closer to God in his heart I think his whole demeanor would have changed, and may be his face would have shone too. Certainly David, writing and recording his thoughts after his deliverance from Abimelech observes two things about demeanor and God. He says ‘Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.’ in Psalm 34:5. There is definitely something about being close to Jesus, ‘the light of the world’, that causes a change in our expression and can even create a radiance that reflects His glory.
In drawing close to God, ‘we see light in His light’, Psalm 36:9. Things make sense when we draw close to God, and that may mean that we put to one side our questions, doubts, issues with God as we choose to worship Him. Then we can review those things from God’s perspective, letting Him shine His light into our perplexities, and into our hearts, bringing His clarity and His truth. This will also put a shine on our faces and we can follow the biblical encouragement to ‘Arise and shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.’ Isaiah 60:1.
Speaking of Jesus John said, ‘Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.’ John 1:3-5. Now the darkness might not ‘understand’ Jesus but for us it is different. As Paul explains, ‘For God who said “Let light shine out of darkness”, made His light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 4:6.
He has shone into our hearts, He has drawn us close, and there is no doubt that God’s plan is that we ourselves will now shine that light into a dark world. Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’ Matthew 5:16. And listen to Paul, ‘Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…’ Philippians 2:15. We are meant to be ‘light emitters’!
In Psalm 104:15, the psalmist praises God for many things including ‘wine that gladdens the heart of man, and oil to make His face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.’ As New Testament Christians we have the wine of the New Covenant, Jesus’ blood paying the price for our forgiveness and Salvation. We have the oil of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to live a completely new life in Christ, to stay close to Him and so to ‘shine’, and we have bread, God’s Word that sustains us day by day. Staying very thankful for each one of those incredible blessings will ensure that our faces are ‘radiant’. Thanksgiving is the way that ‘we look to Him’, it keeps us focused on all that He is, all that He has done and all that He provides for us, it keeps us ‘walking and fellowshipping in His light’, 1 John 1:9, and so radiating that light into the world.