The allusion here seems, to my mind, to be to the sun. Sometimes the natural sun has not risen; and the world must needs be dark if the sun be still beneath the horizon. So with many gracious souls; it is darkness with them, midnight darkness, Egyptian darkness, darkness to be felt, because at present neither the Day-star has appeared nor the Sun of righteousness risen upon them with healing in his wings. It will and must be dark with them till the Sun rise. But sometimes after the sun has risen we see not his face; clouds, deep, dark clouds, may obscure the face of that bright luminary throughout the whole day, and we may not get a single ray from him through the whole period that he is above the visible horizon.
So, many of the Lord’s family, after the Sun has risen upon them in the morning of their spiritual life, may pass, perhaps, much of their subsequent time in the dark shadow, till perhaps at evening tide there is light, and a departing ray gilds the dying pillow. But again, there are sometimes days when mists drive rapidly across the face of the bright orb of day, and yet occasionally he peeps through the breaking clouds. And is not this, in some measure, an emblem of the way in which the Sun of righteousness is continually obscured by the mists and fogs which spring up out of our unbelieving heart, hidden from view by the doubts and fears that, like the vapours of the valley, spread themselves, to our view, over his beauteous face? Yet there are times when he gleams through the clouds and disperses the mists.
When the Lord is pleased to bless the soul and shine upon it with any sweet manifestation, then he breaks in through the dark clouds, but they gather again. It is not in Christian experience one bright summer day. We do not live in Australia or Peru, where clouds and mists rarely obscure the face of the sun. Our spiritual climate is humid, our inward latitude northern.
"The Lord make his face shine upon thee." Is the Lord, then, sovereign in these matters? Can we not lift up our hand and remove the cloud? We have as much power to stretch forth our hand and sweep away the mists that obscure the Sun of righteousness, as we have power with the same hand to sweep away a London fog. How this puts the creature into his right place! And the creature is only in his right place when he is nothing, and God is all in all.
How blessed to see the face of the Father; and to see it shine! not covered with lowering clouds of justly-merited displeasure, as sometimes we see in the natural sky an obscured sun looking angrily down, presaging wind and storm. It is indeed true that, when we have brought guilt into our consciences, the face of God is seen to lower with anger. We have brought his just displeasure upon our heads; though not angry with the persons of his people, yet is he justly angry with their sins; and a sense of this in the soul covers his face with clouds: "Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through" (Lam. 3:44).
"The Lord make his face shine upon thee." And if he make his face shine upon thee, he will make thy face shine too. It was so with Moses, when he was in the mount and was holding sweet communion with God. When he came down amongst the people, the skin of his face shone; the glory of God was reflected upon it. And if the Lord make his face shine upon thee, it will make thy face not unlike the face of Moses when thou goest among the people of God.