PSALMS – SERIES 2020
Psalms 27 : Faith and Fortitude
Psalm 27 is a powerful psalm! King David is the author. But, as we read in Acts 1:16, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who spoke through him.
The psalm actually has 3 parts: 1) Verses 1-6 = David reveals the content of his faith-trust to. And verse 13 may be added to that. For the purpose of this exposition, we read verse 13 together with verses 1-6. 2) Verses 7-12 = David’s private prayer-life. 3) Verse 14 = David’s summons addressed to us!
In a nutshell David is saying the following: “The Lord Himself is everything to me… and that makes me enthusiastic to speak to Him in prayer. And therefore I want to tell all of you (who read this psalm): He can be trusted! Take heart!”
Come, let us zoom in on this for a while:
Remember: We read this Psalm from a NT-perspective. We will therefore fetch the Psalm from the OT and draw it across the “bridge of the cross” to get it to us! Said differently: We read the OT through the LENS of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done! That is the golden rule when we read any passage in the OT. We cannot read the OT as if the New Covenant does not exist! And we must read the NT against its OT backdrop!
Keep in mind for example, a verse like 1 Corinthians 1:30: “Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”. He IS your (if you are a believer) righteousness, your holiness, your redemption – therefore you ARE (in Him) righteous, you ARE holy and you ARE redeemed from all sin: past, present and future!
Here is an important truth to see: Christ does not grant righteousness/holiness/redemption as something apart from Himself. Righteousness/ holiness/ redemption is not something that He gives so that you can possess it apart from Him. No, HE IS IT HIMSELF! Therefore you ARE perfectly righteous/ holy/ redeemed! Because, what Christ is, we ARE in this world (1 John 4:17). We do not become all of that when we first do our bit of righteousness, but our faith discovers that CHRIST has become the righteousness, holiness and redemption that we can never obtain by our own endeavors – and then we start to trust in Him. And that leads to change. God Himself guarantees it. And faith discovers and trusts. And that is repentance = metanoia = turn your mind. And that leads to irrevocable change of life.
Remember what Eph 1:4 says: God had, before the creation of the world (before the beginning of time (1 Cor 2:7; 2 Tim 1:9) – in the death and resurrection of Christ – made holy and blameless and adopted as children, an elect people who did not yet even exist!! Yes, the Fall in paradise did not catch Him unaware. Long before Adam, God had one plan: To bring into existence a people, and in Christ predestined them to be adopted as His children. We might even say that He allowed the Fall to reach His original aim!
There is not a chance that human faith could bring that about! Faith can discover, trust, enjoy, experience only after-the-fact!
Now observe how David puts it: The Lord is my light, my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge. The lord does not provide light, refuge, safety as something apart from Him. He IS it! The light, refuge, safety are not something He only provides. He is that Himself. That is why David IS in the light, IS saved, IS safe!
That is why David has no fear. He is not afraid at all. He does not rely on his position as king, his army, his wealth to allay his fears. He regards himself as enclosed in the Lord. That is why he does not fear – even if whatever kind of enemy approach him! He feels as if he is standing high upon a rock looking down at his enemies. The Lord is that rock and the Lord has mounted him, David, upon that rock!
The realisation of this creates a reaction in David: He becomes more and more a man with only one purpose! He desires to taste more and more of this wonderful Lord. He begins to consciously seek the Lord’s presence (which is guaranteed by the Lord’s faithfulness and in which David IS enclosed 24/7 even if it does not feel like it to him!) to experience His goodness and to look at His splendour and beauty.
When you realise that the Lord has bound Himself to you and that He is your light, salvation and safety… that He is your righteousness and holiness and redemption – then it unleashes a reaction inside of you. You can no longer be the same person. And you become “addicted” to Him – said with respect. Your heart continuously strives to His side. Not in order for Him to enclose you, but because you’ve discovered that He has enclosed you for ever. That He has a heart for you. That your baptism guaranteed it to you when you were still a tiny baby! That He never takes back what He has once given (Rom 11:29).
Once you discover this free grace, you will realise how splendid, lovely and beautiful the Lord is. And you just want to see more and more of it. His splendour draws you! He pulls you closer like a magnet. You feel as if you can spend your life to see more and more and more of His splendour and learn more about it. That is exactly how David experienced it. It is the normal feeling of someone who has discovered God’s free grace. I want to spend Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays looking at His splendour and learn more about it!
David knew: THIS is life! He knew that if he hadn’t made that discovery he would have had absolutely no hope. Also not for the future.
But now he knows that he shall see the goodness of the Lord… also in the far distant future. Also after death. Even if he should die, the Lord’s goodness would just go on and on.
But he says: If I did NOT make this discovery and believed it… I would be miserably without hope!
Is it a wonder that these formidable faith-contents led David towards spontaneous talk to the Lord? Call it prayer.
When David discovered who the Lord is in his life, he WANTED to pray! He wants to talk to the Lord. Prayer means to react to His splendour and beauty that He has come to establish in your life. Prayer is based on a firm basis, a firm assurance. Prayer is not trying to draw the attention of a reluctant God or to twist His arm! Prayer does not struggle (accompanied by fasting) for 40 days and nights to get into the presence of the Lord and get His wrath turned away and get Him so far as to understand your case and possibly answer your plea!
We must not understand from David’s prayer in verses 7-12 that the Lord was standing at a distance and that David, by pleading and beseeching, tried to draw the Lord’s attention! Remember verses 7-12 are enfolded within verses 1-6 and 13! And in verses 1-6 and 13 he has just confessed how intensely enclosed he is in the Lord and that the Lord Himself is his righteousness!
But that does not mean that a believer does not sometimes FEEL as if the Lord is far away and is hiding His face!
Although David knows that the Lord is his shepherd, he FEELS as if the Lord is somewhat lacking! Although he realises that his feelings are just mere feelings – that it is not a reliable gauge of what is truth! And therefore king David can communicate his feelings to the Lord! His feelings say: “Perhaps the Lord does not want to listen, not answer, not be merciful. Perhaps the Lord wants to reject or forsake me and hide Himself from me”. We do not know what David’s circumstances were that made him so despondent. But we do know that we often experience those very same feelings! It is so common. We can identify ourselves with the way David felt.
But now see how David rises above his feelings. He knows that his feelings about the Lord are not the truth – it is mere human nature and is influenced by circumstances. But David knows that there is something that weighs heavier than his clouded vision: The Lord’s promises.
Listen to his prayer: “Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face”. Yes, he reminds the Lord of His promises. He relies only upon what the Lord has said! In spite of his emotions, he is so sure of God’s promises. It is completely unthinkable that his own mother and father would forsake him, but even if they would, the Lord shall not!
Instead of remaining caught up in a dark mood, David ends with assurance – so much so that he encourages us – who are reading this psalm – in verse 14: Wait for the Lord! Be strong and take heart!
If it would feel as if the Lord has forsaken you, or is hiding Himself from you, or He is perhaps angry, or does not want to listen – then TELL Him how you feel. Speak out. He is your Father! You can tell Him exactly how you feel. BUT: Do not stop there. Look deeper and see how He has enclosed you with Himself. Look at His heartbeat, His beauty and splendour. See that He IS your light, refuge and salvation. There is no distance from His side. He cannot get you out of His mind. His full attention is upon you. And therefore He longs so much for your attention! Be strong and take heart and seek His face!
Translated by Marthie Wilson