What is the background of Psalm 27?
This psalm is ascribed to David. The psalm addresses the issues of fear and faith and waiting on the Lord in the midst of life’s difficulties.
27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
David acknowledged that God was his light, salvation, and defense and so was able to face his fears with courage and confidence. He knew that God alone could give him what he needed to face his fears and problems. Danger, trouble, and anxiety suggest darkness. David however, had the light of God’s presence to help him face the darker issues of life. David also referred to God as his “salvation,” a term denoting deliverance. He was assured that God would indeed deliver him from that which threatened to undo him. David further referred to God as the “defense” of his life, a word suggesting strength. David, weak and feeble, found strength in God to firmly face the things that threatened him. The word “fear” means “to be anxious.” The word “dread” is a stronger term that means “to tremble” or “to be terrified.”
Practical Consideration: We must think more about God than about our problems. When David was surrounded by problems he did not focus on the problems. He focused on God. He focused on the adequacy of God to help him deal with his problems. David did not cry out, “What am I going to do?” Instead, he cried out, “What is God able to do?” David understood that God was bigger than his problems. What we think about God will determine what we do with our problems.
27:2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
David was under real pressure from his “adversaries” and “enemies” who were devouring his flesh, an expression that refers to slanderous speech. His faith in God was forged in the furnace of difficult experiences. His adversaries and enemies were not able to prevail against him. This nourished his confidence.
27:3 Though a host encamped against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
These verses express David’s confidence in the Lord. His confidence was grounded in the Lord’s deliverances in the past (verse 2) as well as his present commitment to the Lord. Someone has said, “Where there is no confidence in God, there will be no continuance with God.” Regardless of how formidable or serious a threat might be, David resolved to trust in God.
27:4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to meditate in His temple.
This verse expresses the deepest desire of David’s heart. It defines his priority (“one thing”), petition (“I have asked”), and preoccupation (“that I shall seek”). He wanted to live his life in close fellowship to the Lord. He wanted to constantly enjoy God’s presence. There is security in the presence of the Lord.
Note: See also Luke 10:38-42 regarding the one thing chosen by Mary.
Practical Consideration: Problems should drive us to God.
David’s problems drove him to God rather than away from Him. He earnestly desired fellowship with the Lord when he encountered problems and pressures. Someone has said that problems either make us bitter or better. David’s problems certainly made him better as they drove him to depend on and have faith in God.
27:5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
Someone has noted that God gives the best of shelter in the worst of danger. David was confident that God would give him the same gracious protection a host offered to his guests. He was confident that God would lift him “up on a rock,” that is, a place of security beyond the reach of his enemies.
27:6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me;
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
The phrase “my head will be lifted up” continues the figure from the previous verse of being lifted up on a rock. David’s gratitude for the Lord’s protection found expression in “shouts of joy” and singing praises to the Lord. Gratitude should find expression in praise and thanksgiving.
27:7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
27:8 When Thou didst say, “Seek My face,” my heart said to Thee,
“Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
We do not have to be alone in the midst of life’s problems and pressures. We do not have to face them alone. The Lord invites us to seek Him (see also Jeremiah 33:3 and Psalm 50:15), especially in the midst of life’s difficulties. Like David, we should readily respond to such a divine invitation. These verses express David’s commitment to the Lord and his resolve to depend on the Him.
Practical Consideration: We should seek God’s face so that we can face our problems.
God invited David to seek His face. God calls us to do the same. He calls us to seek Him before we call on Him. When we find ourselves surrounded by problems we should be silent and listen for His voice: “Seek My face.” We should seek God’s face in the face of danger, trials, and problems. In God alone will we find the comfort, protection, perspective, guidance, and strength to go on. We should seek God’s face so that we can face our problems.
27:9 Do not hide Thy face from me,
Do not turn Thy servant away in anger;
Thou hast been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
27:10 For my mother and my father have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
While others may forsake us, God never will abandon us (see also Hebrews 13:5). The reference to being forsaken by his parents can be understood to mean that David’s parents had died. God however, continued to love him past his parent’s lifetime. Some scholars translate the word “for” in verse 10 as “if.” Even if forsaken by family and friends, God’s love and presence would remain.
27:11 Teach me Thy way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path,
Because of my foes.
David asked God to teach him His way and to lead him “in a level path,” that is, a right and ethical path, that he might continue to make progress. He felt that his foes were vigilantly watching for him to slip along life’s path.
27:12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
David’s foes were a real threat. David’s destruction was a top priority (“desire”) on the agenda of his adversaries. These “false witnesses” slandered him openly among the people and panted violence.
27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Hope is an important factor in life. Without it men easily fall victim to despair. David would have despaired and been destroyed apart from faith and confidence in the Lord.
27:14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
David, speaking to himself, resolved to “wait for the Lord.” Waiting is a difficult thing for us to do in our fast-paced society. We do not like to wait. But in our spiritual lives, waiting is important. We cannot hurry-up waiting! And because it is easy to lose heart when we must wait, verse 14 encourages us to be strong and not lose heart, and then to continue waiting. We must trust God’s timing and expect His intervention when we face life’s trials.
Note: Charles H. Spurgeon comments, “Wait at His door with prayer; wait at His foot with humility; wait at His table with service; wait at His window with expectancy.” J. H. Jowett comments, “To wait for the Lord is to make the Lord the clinging place of the soul, and therefore the resting place, and therefore the growing place.”