Psalm 27 – A Reflection

This is a much loved Psalm among the members of GBC, often quoted at our various gatherings, accompanied by many a heartfelt “AMEN”.

The opening verse sets the tone of the following paragraph which closes in v6 with a defiant shout of joy before the sacred altar of the LORD and the prospect of a voice raised in a thrilling song of praise accompanied by triumphant music. The reason for this rapturous outburst (which this surely is) can be attributed to the comprehensive rout and utter humiliation of David’s enemies. The language David uses is vivid! V1 is a no holds barred assertion of total trust in God! “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life—of whom shall I be afraid”? I would suggest that since this Psalm was very probably written retrospectively, v1 is actually the conclusion which David reached after the difficult experiences which follow in vv7-12. (See Psalm 73, where the writer’s conclusion regarding his doubts and grumbles is given in verse 1).  There can be no doubt about the bloodthirsty character of David’s enemies. They’re described as cannibalistic! Terrifying! This language is, of course deliberately graphic, designed to underline the ferocity of David’s enemies. Yet however numerous they may be, however homicidal their intentions, when they attack, they will stumble and fall. All God’s believing children will have known similar times of assurance, perhaps following some personal crisis or disappointment which the LORD has turned into a triumph! Does that ring any bells? “Though wars break out against me, even then will I be confident” (v3).

This God given confidence inspires in David a desire to remain in the near presence of the LORD. Aren’t we reminded of Psalm 91 here? “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. (KJV) vv4-6. This secret “hiding place” (verse 5) is where we can begin to know God through the living ministry of his word. There’s a spiritual intimacy implied here, assurance of God’s very personal protection and a close relationship. There’s the prospect of God’s revelation of himself when we may “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and seek him in his temple”. Psalm 25v14 says, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them”. David says that this is the ONE thing he has asked of the LORD.

In Matthew 13v15-16 Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. This morning I was speaking to a friend on the phone about the inconvenience of “lockdown”. She actually told me that the whole business of enforced isolation (she is in the most vulnerable category), has been a wonderful blessing to her. She spoke of time spent in the presence of the Lord, of a new sense of intimacy and nearness which brought rushing floods of joy which simply overwhelmed her without warning!

There’s a dramatic contrast in the language of vv7-12. The supreme confidence expressed in vv1-6 has all but evaporated! Gone are the joyful shouts of triumph and the resounding songs of praise. David, perhaps rather like us at times, seems to be just about hanging on. Psalm 30v7 says “When I felt secure, I said, ‘I shall never be shaken’. O LORD, when you favoured me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed”! Here, in Psalm 27, David says “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.” Perhaps there’s a strong prophetic sense of the sufferings and struggles of Christ in these verses, Read vv7-12 carefully and see what you think.

Vv13-14 are just so encouraging! Our Pastor has frequently quoted John 16v33 recently, where Jesus, within an hour or so of his treacherous betrayal and arrest tells his disciples. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” David says, “I am still confident of this: 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”