For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the 27th of September, here’s Psalm 27:
1 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?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 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 Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
What is this Psalm about?
Allen P. Ross calls this ‘A prayer song of courageous trust’ – and that sums it up beautifully. Secure in it’s conviction of truth, the Psalm never really moves beyond the truth expressed in verse 1 – everything that happens, that is asked for, that is wondered about, is in the light of Who God is and What God has done. I would slightly modify Ross’s summary – replacing ‘courageous’ with ‘confident’, echoing the NIV translation above. Courage is good – but confidence to me echoes the calm, patient, certain hope that runs through Psalms like this. Verse 13 prepares the Psalm for ending with a stirring call to confidence – before ending on a pregnant sentence, a mixture of the passive (‘wait’) and the active (‘be strong and take heart’), echoing the tension of Psalm 26.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
Eight out of thirteen verses mention ‘the Lord’ – and many of those multiple times. The emphasis here is on this title/name for God. The opening verse – which I pondered above runs through the Psalm – clarifies that the Lord is ‘light’ (pointing to direciton, hope, life and clarity, among other things) and ‘my salvation’. Both of these things are calm and clear – we can be confident in them – and both of these things flow from God – so we can be confident in God. I think, then, that Psalm 27 is fundamentally about confidence in God, in who he is, what he says, and what he has done, is doing, and will do.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
Psalm 27 is an honest Psalm – whatever the truth we know, life challenges it, and we have to choose to refocus on what God says, rather than what might tempt and lure us. There are images of overwhelm-ed-ness – harking back to earlier Psalms, as well as snapshots of the normal parts of the life of God’s people – prayer, praise, mercy, truth and so on. Psalm 27 invites us back to the simple truth of Who God is and What God has done – and the messy but glorious reality of life in the light of God’s light and salvation.
A Prayer from Psalm 27
Lord, life isn’t always easy, and following you isn’t always what I want to do. Help me to turn my eyes and heart upon you. And I will, with your Holy Spirit’s help, remain confident of this, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Amen.