Meditations in David’s Psalms : 32 : Assurances – Psa 27
Psa 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
Sometimes when encouraging people to build self-esteem in themselves, we say, look in a mirror and speak the truth to yourself, the truth about yourself and your position in life. That’s rather what David seems to be doing here in this psalm. By the nature of what he says in it, he has in the back of his mind that he has enemies and they trouble him, but he is going to declare the truth about the Lord to counter those concerns.
Thus he starts with this assurance about the Lord: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” (v.1a) What does light do? It shows the way or it lights up your surroundings and lets you see and understand what is there. The Lord does this for David. But life is full of difficulties and David’s experience of the Lord says that God is for him and will be there to save him from those difficulties. With that in mind he can say, “whom shall I fear?” (v.1b) If God is for him he doesn’t have to be afraid of anyone. Do you want to stand in front of a mirror and say that to yourself? This sense of security that he has in the Lord makes him feel it’s like he’s inside a castle and protected by the Lord and so, indeed, why be afraid of anyone: “The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (v.1c)
This sense of security has very practical outworkings. If he is this secure in the Lord then when enemies come, they are the ones who are going to fall before the Lord: “When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.” (v.2) One thing follows another in this spiritual logic. If God is his light and salvation and stronghold, then it doesn’t matter who or how many come against him for it is the Lord they will encounter: “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” (v.3) We don’t know who David has in mind when he writes this; it could have been Saul or it could have been the Philistines or some other national army invading. Whoever it is – he is secure in the Lord! OK, so much for enemies and his security in the Lord; now it’s time to move on.
It’s like he turns his back on thoughts of the enemy and turns to face or consider the wonder of knowing the Lord’s presence: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (v.4) That’s the big issue in life – his relationship with the Lord, knowing the Lord, seeking the Lord in the Tabernacle (house of the Lord), seeking the Lord in heaven (in his temple [the Temple wasn’t yet built so this must refer to His home in heave]) It was actually being able to be close to the Lord that was at the heart of his security: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” (v.5) If he can be close to the Lord in the tabernacle, then he knows the Lord will protect it and him and so when the enemy comes he will be safe there. Wherever we are in life, if we can know the presence of the Lord, there is safety for us, His people.
David has this picture in his mind, of his enemies coming like a hoard to overcome him, and of the potential of him going down before them, but he knows that while he stays close to the Lord, the Lord will be there for him and he will be lifted up and so will not fall before them and, in fact, he will be lifted above them and therefore, in that place of worship he will be able to praise and worship the Lord, regardless of who comes: “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.” (v.6)
So having given himself this talk in the mirror, so to speak, he turns away and speaks directly in prayer to the Lord. This needs to be appropriated and it starts in prayer: “Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.” (v.7) Sensing and knowing the Lord’s presence starts when we seek Him in prayer. Prayer does a lot of things and one of them is that it gives us a sense of the Lord being there. In his heart David knows what he has to do: “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (v.8) That’s what he is doing in prayer, seeking the Lord’s face or, to put it another way, seeking to sense the Lord is there.
As he prays, he voices his worst nightmare: “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour.” (v.9) God not drawing near, God being angry with him for some reason, God rejecting him or leaving him, these are the anguishes of insecurity that we can find within us. But David knows better than these fears: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (v.10) Even if his closest family might reject him (but they hadn’t) God would never do that. That was the confidence that he had in his relationship with the Lord.
In this confidence, he prays for guidance: “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors,” (v.11) but then expresses the practical outworking of that: “Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.” (v.12). This is what he needs, deliverance from enemies who tell lies about him and yet, even as he prays, that confidence, that we have seen so many times when he prays, breaks through: “ I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (v.13) The confidence that he has in his spirit as he prays will be translated into a practical outworking so that his experiences in life will reveal the goodness of the Lord.
With all this in mind, it’s like he returns to the figurative mirror and speaks again to himself: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (v.14) That’s it, that’s all he’s got to do, trust in the Lord, wait on Him, hold to the truth and just wait and God will do what God will do. Excellent!