Psalm 27 – A Psalm for Our Times

1 Yahweh is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?1

And so begins a psalm for our times – a psalm that should be on all our lips these days. These are words that will help us through the times that are at hand.

Do you take these words to heart? Do you look to the Lord – the ever-present and all-knowing God who lights the path you are on -as your light – so that you will not stumble? Believe me, I know the path that some of you are traveling. You walk the way of the world even though God maybe somewhere in your life, but only when you allow it, and so you go along the world’s path, picking your steps and all the while knowing that you shouldn’t be where you are.

Christians do it all the time and don’t think that it is just those who are marginal in their Christianity. There are many professing Christians who walk that path knowing … knowing they are walking outside God’s will, treading on the tail of the tiger, and so they are constantly anxious and on their guard for fear of what the next step may bring. The sad thing is it doesn’t have to be that way.

All you need to do is say, “Lord, I am way off track here … please get me onto the path of your ways.” Then the right path becomes clear and rescue and salvation is at hand. But perhaps you are walking the path that is lighted by God, what does this verse mean, then? Well, it means you don’t need to fear. Jesus said that we are not to fear those who can hurt the body.  Luke 12:4

Jesus is not only our light, but is also our salvation. When we look to Him and believe Him and believe in Him, then he becomes the strength of our life. Of whom shall we be afraid? We are all fearful of those who can physically harm us – no one wants to be in a place in which we might lose our life. But, if God is for us, then who can be against us? Romans 8:31 And if we do, one day find ourselves in that position, our belief in Jesus will help us through that ordeal.

This is the confidence we gain when the Lord is our light, our salvation, and our strength. We are able to stand with confidence against all sorts of wickedness and traps and armies that come against us (and who doesn’t need that today … looking at the headlines?). We may die, but we will not be defeated! This is the great mystery that God has presented to the world: that we, mere humans, are able to stand for truth in spite of what the world says.

The first shall be last … ; Matt 20:16  Unless you be born again … ; John 3:3 My weakness is God’s strength … ; 2 Cor 12:9  To live is loss, but to die is gain. Phil 1:21  Paradox and inconsistency; that’s all the world sees. The world is confused by it, complains about it, and ridicules it, but hope and truth in the Word is what we know and in that we have confidence.

4 One thing have I desired of Yahweh, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Yahweh, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

God wants relationship with His children (that’s us, by the way)! What other god wants that? Our God, Yahweh, created us because he wanted a family and he has watched us and nurtured us and made covenants with us, time and time again, only to be spurned. Still He returns to us and still He desires that we seek Him and talk with Him and on top of all that, He stands ready to forgive us so the relationship can be renewed. These two verses need to be our prayer, too!

Our relationship with God is renewed by honest repentance, then we can seek to dwell in His house.

What greater honor and privilege could we have than to dwell in the house of God forever, seeing the wonders of our creator, sustainer, provider and savior?  More importantly, we can rest assured that while we remain in this world, He will hide us, protect us, and give us a place where no one – no evil – can get hold of us? What joy!

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto Yahweh.

Verses one through six, then, describe God’s characteristics and acknowledge His goodness (v.1). They expound on what He has done, even through the most dire of circumstances (vv.2,3). They describe the desire one has to be with God in His house (vss.4,5). And now, with being lifted up on a rock and out of harm’s way, sacrifices of joy are made and praises are sung to Yahweh.

Singing a New Song

Beginning with verse seven, the psalm takes a new direction – a direction that is more of a lament – a cry for help.   It is very different from the preceding verses. I can’t honestly say that I understand why the writer would take this tack.  I set aside writing this article to think about the change and it came to me that this really is a good way to pray.

I decided to read it without the verse numberings, still keeping the poetic form and I realized that with the end of verse six, the praises of our Lord have been sung; we have demonstrated that we are truly cognizant of the fact that without God we are helpless and needy; we can now come to God with a humbled heart and attitude and lay our petitions before Him.  Psalms 27.7-11

7  Hear, O Yahweh, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8  When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Yahweh, will I seek.
9  Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O Elohim of my salvation.
10  When my father and my mother forsake me, then Yahweh will take me up.
11   Teach me thy way, O Yahweh, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. 

Here, in verse eleven, David makes the request that he would be shown the ways of God. We have seen this before in the Psalms. He also asks that he be led on a “plain” path. We have all experienced situations in which we ask God for guidance and in particular we want to know for certain that the guidance we are receiving is actually from Him and not just our own mental gyrations. This is what David is asking for here.

12  Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. 

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living.

This verse (13) is of interest to me. It is unusual to have an unfinished sentence left dangling like this one. It is not so apparent in this version because the translators have tacked-on the “I had fainted” part at the very beginning and most of the versions I have in my library have similar wording that fills it out to a complete sentence. However, I have seen a version or two that leave the sentence more-or-less unfinished. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)2 is the translation that I have and it reads like this:

 13   If I hadn’t believed that I would see
     Adonai’s goodness in the land of the living, …

14  Put your hope in Adonai, be strong,
     and let your heart take courage!
     Yes, out your hope in Adonai!       [Psalms 27.13,14 CJB]

 Yes, the ellipses is in the actual text of the verse in the CJB. I think this is a fine way to express the wonder and awe that one has when encountering the goodness of God. During such times, we just don’t know what to say and our thoughts and verbalization just trail off, ending in silence.

 Thank you for reading.  God bless and protect you. Be strong and let your heart take courage – God is with you!

 



1 All psalm quotes of Psalms 27 are from the Words of Yahweh version. Official notice: “Scripture taken from The Word of Yahweh, ©2003 by The Assembly of Yahweh. Used by permission.” Other versions as noted.
2The Complete Jewish Bible, 1998, David H. Stern: Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Clarksville, Maryland, 21029

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