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?
When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
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.
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.
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.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
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.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this:(Ps. 27:1-14 NIV)
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
By now it should be apparent that God’s presence is a very dominant theme in the Psalms. The Psalm can be divided into four parts:
V1-3 Confidence in God’s presence
V4-6 Prayer of God’s presence
V7-12 Prayer for God’s presence
V13-14 Confidence in God’s presence.
The confidence of the Psalmist lies not in his own abilities, or in the strength of his armies, but in the Lord. The Psalmist has experienced the Lord’s presence and he describes the Lord as ‘light’ and ‘stronghold’. The Lord gives light to His people and in the Lord’s light they embrace salvation. With the light that the Lord gives, we can understand that the Lord is our stronghold. The Lord is the strength in which we can serve Him. The Lord is the stronghold of your life.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Rom. 8:35-39 NIV)
The knowledge of the Lord’s protecting presence gives great confidence. Who are we going to be afraid of, whom shall we fear? Where does this courage come from? It comes from God’s presence. What lesson does this teach us? It must surely teach us to seek the Lord’s presence. Regardless of how great the difficulty is, the Psalmist looks at the greatness of the Lord in relation to the insignificance of his own problems.
This confidence in the Lord is not a naïve belief:
the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world1 John 4:4 NIV
The presence of the enemy does not cause him to fear because he knows the Lord is with him.
Having enjoyed the presence of the Lord, he wants this to remain with him all the days of his life. The one thing he asks, the one thing he seeks, that he may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. While in the tabernacle, he wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek God; this is fellowship with God. The beauty of the Lord is God’s favour, the beauty of His salvation. The longing of his heart is that he might know the Lord. We can see the same desire with Moses
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.’
The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’
Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.(Exod. 33:13-15 NIV).
In the day of trouble, the Psalmist will not be sheltering in the tabernacle, but the presence of the Lord is so real that it seems he is right there in the tabernacle. God is the rock, and the Psalmist is standing on that Rock, and is covered by the sacred tent. The victory that the Psalmist will see is because of God’s presence. The Psalmist vows to sacrifice thanksgiving offerings and raise his voice in praise of the Lord. He will shout, he will sing and make music to the Lord.
In v7 the Psalmist prays again for the presence of the Lord. He calls out to the Lord and asks that his voice be heard. To seek the Lord’s face is to ask God to turn His face towards us and do us good.
We see this in the Aaronic blessing:
‘“‘The Lord bless you(Num. 6:24-26 NIV)
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace.’”
There is a mutual giving and receiving. The Lord gives blessing which is received by the Psalmist, and the Psalmist gives praise and thanksgiving which is graciously received by the Lord. The Psalmist has known God and he seeks to know God. He does not take the Lord’s presence for granted, nor does he assume that he has an inherent right to be heard by God. When God hides His face, He removes His blessing. The Psalmist abandons himself totally to the Lord. He describes himself as the Lord’s servant, and acknowledges that God would be justified in turning him away in anger. God has helped him, but he still needs God to be his Saviour. Though his family might forsake him, he is sure that God will not forsake him. It is so important that we follow the example of the Psalmist as he still wants to be taught. It is possible to adopt a spirit that is not teachable. It is not possible in a lifetime to know all that God has revealed in His Word; we are forever learning. There are still enemies that we face: the world, the flesh and the devil. The Psalmist does not want God to turn him over to his enemies. The enemy constantly seeks to undo the work of the Lord. The Psalmist expresses his confidence in the Lord. Just like us, the Psalmist’s confidence in God ebbs and flows. We enter new experiences and we constantly need the Lord’s reassurance. He is confident that he will still see more of the goodness of God in his lifetime. The Psalmist does not just have a private faith, he shares the blessing of the Lord with others.
Lord God, Your Word gives us many reasons to be confident in our faith. Our past experience gives us reason to be confident. Yet Lord we sin in our weakness, we sin because we neglect to do Your will. Lord, teach us your way, direct our path, turn Your face towards us and bring us swiftly to be able to gather together in the house of God. Hear our prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen.