This Psalm describes the devout affections which souls may be carried towards God at all times, especially in times of trouble. Let our hearts be so affected by it. An exuberant declaration of faith
Psalm 27 – A Psalm of David
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? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 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.
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. 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. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide Your face from me
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 Saviour. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain 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.
Henry says – David triumphs in God. The Lord is my light. David’s subjects called him the light of Israel, 2 Sam. 21:17. And he was indeed a burning and a shining light. But he declares that he shone with a borrowed light. The light God directed upon him. God is a light to His people, to show them the way when they are in doubt, to comfort and rejoice their hearts when they are in sorrow. It is in His light that they now walk on in their way, and in His light they hope to see light forever. “He is my salvation, in whom I am safe and by whom I shall be saved.”
In God let us strengthen ourselves
“He is the strength of my life, not only the protector of my life, who keeps me from being slain, but the strength of my frail, weak life, who keeps me from fainting, sinking and dying away.” God, who is a believer’s light, is the strength of their life in whom, He lives and moves. In God therefore let us strengthen ourselves.
David triumphs with an undaunted courage over his enemies. There is no fortitude like that of faith. If God be for him, who can be against him? Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid? If the Omnipotent One be his guard, he has no cause to fear. He triumphs over his enemies that had come upon him, to eat up his flesh. Yet “They stumbled and fell;” they were so confounded and weakened that they could not go on with their plans. Thus who came to take Christ were made to stagger and fall to the ground, John 18:6. Having fallen, he is now fearless: “Though they be numerous, a host of them, and daring, they camp against me, an army against one man, yet my heart shall not fear.”
He shall hide me
Hosts cannot hurt us, if the Lord of hosts protects us. David will be confident that he shall be safe. “If God is my salvation, in the time of trouble He shall hide me. He shall set me out of danger and above the fear of it.” God will not only find a shelter for His people in distress (as He did Jer. 36:26), but He Himself will be their hiding-place, Ps. 32:7. His name is the strong tower into which by faith they run, Prov. 18:10. “He shall hide me.” The gracious presence of God, His power, His promise, His readiness to hear prayer, the witness of His Spirit in the hearts of His people are the secret of His tabernacle. In these, the saints find cause for that holy security and serenity of mind in which they dwell at ease.
This sets them upon a rock which will not sink under them, but on which they find firm footing for their hopes. It sets them up upon a rock on high, where the raging threatening billows of a stormy sea cannot touch them. It is a rock that is higher than we, Ps. 61:2. We shall be victorious (Ps. 27:6): “Now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies, not only so as that they cannot reach it with their darts, but so as that I shall be exalted to bear rule over them.” By faith in the promise of God he is able to triumph before the victory and of the crown, as if it were already upon his head.
Where else should they dwell?
David prays with earnestness for a constant communion with God, Ps. 27:4. It greatly encouraged his confidence in God that he had an entire affection toward God and that he was in his element when in the way of his commitments toward Him. If our hearts can witness that we delight in God above any creature then we can be encouraged to depend upon Him. It is a sign that we are of those whom He protects as His own.
He desires—to dwell in the house of the Lord. He desires that he could constantly attend to the services of God, with other faithful Israelites. He longed to see an end of the wars in which he was now engaged and often driven into the other idol-worshipping lands. Not that he might live at ease in his own palace, but that he might have the liberty for a constant attendance in God’s courts. All God’s children desire to dwell in God’s house; where else should they dwell? Not to sojourn there but to dwell there all the days of their life; for there the Son abides.
To behold the beauty of the Lord
If he were to ask one thing of God, this should be it: “This is the one thing I have desired of the Lord and which I will seek after.” He desired it as a good thing as a gift and token of His favour. Those who truly desire communion with God will with all diligence to seek after it, Prov. 18:1.
David wanted to dwell there, not for the feasts or music but to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in His temple. He desired to attend in God’s courts that he might have the pleasure of meditating upon God. He knew something of the beauty of the Lord, the infinite and transcendent wonder of the Divine being and perfections. His holiness is His beauty (Ps. 110:3), His goodness is His beauty, Zech. 9:17. The harmony of all His attributes is the beauty of His nature.
We are the tokens of His favour
With an eye of faith and holy love we with pleasure behold this beauty, and observe more and more all that is amiable and admirable in it. When we with fixedness of thought, and a holy flame of devout affections contemplate God’s glorious excellencies we will find Him manifest. We are the tokens of His peculiar favour. David longs to be instructed in his duty and to enquire in God’s temple. Lord, what will You have me to do? For the sake of these two things he desired that one thing, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. When Mary sat at Christ’s feet to hear His word, Christ calls it the one thing needful, and the good part.
David promised himself that if he could have a place in God’s house, he would be quiet and at ease. There troubles would not find him, for he would be set on high, Ps. 27:5. Joash, one of David’s seed, was hidden in the house of the Lord for six years, and there not only preserved from the sword, but reserved to the crown, 2 Kgs. 11:3. The safety of believers however is not in the walls of the temple, but in the God of the temple and their comfort in communion with Him.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry
There David would be cheerful and offer sacrifices of joy, Ps. 27:6. For God’s work is its own wages. There he would sing praises to the Lord. Whatever is the matter of our joy ought to be the matter of our praise. It is for the glory of our God that we should sing His praise and whenever God lifts us up above our enemies, we ought to exalt Him in worship. Thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph, 2 Cor. 2:14.
Yet if David cannot now go up to the house of the Lord, yet, wherever he is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer. He humbly cries out because he firmly believes he shall have, a gracious audience: “Hear, O Lord, when I cry, not only with my heart, but, as one in earnest, with my voice too.” He requests an answer of peace, which he expects, not from his own merit, but God’s goodness: Have mercy upon me, and answer me, Ps. 27:7. If we pray and believe, God will graciously hear and answer.
He holds forth the golden sceptre
David takes hold of the kind invitation God had given him, Ps. 27:8. It is presumption for us to come into the presence of the King of kings uncalled, nor can we draw near with any assurance unless he holds forth the golden sceptre. David fixes his thoughts, upon the call to the throne of grace, and reverently touches, as it were, the top of the golden sceptre, which was held out to him. My heart heard, ‘Seek My face’. He preached that over again to himself (it is the best preaching to hear twice what God speaks once). Your face, Lord, will I seek.
The true nature of worship is in seeking the face of God. This is in God’s precept: Seek My face. He would have us seek Him for Himself, and make His favour our chief good. And so in our purpose and desire: “Your face, Lord, I will seek, and nothing less will I do”. The opening of His hand will satisfy the desire of all living things (Ps. 145:16). But the shining of His face will satisfy the desire of a living soul, Ps. 4:6, 7. It is not only by permission, but by His command to us to seek which implies a promise of finding. For He is too kind to say, Seek Me in vain. God calls us to seek His face in our conversion to Him and in our conversation with Him.
God is in love calling us to seek Him
God calls us, by the whispers of His Spirit to our spirit, to seek His face. When we are foolishly courting with vanities, God is, in love to us, calling us in Him to seek real mercies. Gracious souls readily comply with this invitation. The call is immediately returned: My heart answered, Your face, Lord, will I seek. The call was general; “Seek My face;” but, like David, we must apply it to ourselves, “I will seek it.” The Word does us no good unless we accept the exhortation. The call was, Seek My face; the answer is express, Your face, Lord, will I seek. As in (Jer. 3:22), Behold, we come to You. A gracious heart readily echoes the calls of a gracious God.
David is very particular in his requests for the favour of God that he might not be shut out from it (Ps. 27:9): “Your face, Lord, I will seek, in obedience to Your command. Therefore do not hide Your face from me. Love me, and let me know that You love me; do not put away Your servant in anger.” He admits that he deserved God’s displeasure, but begs that, however God might correct him, he would not cast him away from his presence. For what is hell but that?
Teach me Your way
David further prays for the continuance of His presence with him: “You have been my help and You are the God of my salvation. Therefore where shall I go but to You? Do not leave me not, neither forsake me. Do not withdraw the operations of Your power from me, for then I am helpless. Do not withdraw the tokens of Your good-will to me, for then I am comfortless.” He longs for the benefit of divine guidance (Ps. 27:11): “Teach me Your way, O Lord! give me to understand the meaning of Your providences towards me and make them plain to me. Let me know my duty in every doubtful case, that I may not mistake it, but may walk rightly. Cause me not to hesitate, but walk surely.”
David’s enemies watched for his faltering, that they may have an opportunity against him. Saul eyed David, 1 Sam. 18:9. This quickened him to pray, “Lord, lead me in a plain path, that they may have nothing to lay to my charge.” false witnesses have risen up against me, who breathe out cruelty; it is the blood, the precious blood, they thirst after.” David here again was a type of Christ; for false witnesses rose up against Him, and breathed out cruelty. Though He was delivered into their wicked hands, they could not prevent his exaltation.
The Lord will take me up
David expresses that God would help when all other helps failed him (Ps. 27:10): “When my father and my mother forsake me. The nearest and dearest friends I have in the world, from whom I may expect the most relief, when they will not help me and I am as helpless as a poor orphan, then I know the Lord will take me up.” His time to help those who trust in Him is when all other helpers fail, when it is most for His honour and their comfort. With him the fatherless find mercy. This promise has often been fulfilled. Forsaken orphans have been taken under the special care of divine Providence, Who has raised up relief and friends for them in a way that no one would have expected. God is a surer and better friend than our earthly parents are or can be.
In due time David believed that he would see the displays of His goodness, Ps. 27:13. He believed he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Else he would have fainted under his afflictions. Even the best saints are subject to faint when their troubles become grievous. Their spirits are overwhelmed, and their flesh and heart fail. But then faith keeps them from being despair, keeps them hoping, and praying, and waiting. What was the belief that kept David from fainting?–that he should see the goodness of the Lord, which now seemed at a distance.
Heaven is the land of the living
Those who walk by faith in the goodness of the Lord shall in due time walk in the sight of that goodness. This he hopes to see in the land of the living. That is in this world he should outlive his troubles and not perish under them. It is his comfort that he shall see the goodness of God for that is the comfort of all comforts to a gracious soul. Heaven alone may be truly called the land of the living, where there is no more death. This earth is the land of the dying. There is nothing like the believing hope of eternal life, the foresights of that glory, and foretastes of those pleasures, to keep us from fainting under all the calamities of this present time.
In the meantime David would be strengthened to bear up under his burdens (Ps. 27:14). He shall strengthen your heart, shall sustain your spirit and sustain you. Keep close to God and to your commitments. Wait on the Lord by faith, and prayer, and a humble resignation to His will; wait, I say, on the Lord. Whatever you do: Be of good courage; let your heart be fixed, trusting in God, and your mind stayed upon Him, and then let none of these things move you. Those who wait upon the Lord have reason to be of good courage.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
One Thing I Ask I have sought many things in my life That have caused my heart to stray. One thing I only ask now That I may live in Your presence every day. I will seek You in Your temple And live in the beauty of Your ways, My true joy will be found there As only on You will I gaze. There’s no place like Your presence, You are truly my heart’s desire. I come now in repentance, Please rekindle the dying fire. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. You are the light of my life, to show me the way when I am in doubt, to comfort and rejoice my heart when I am in sorrow. It is in Your light that I walk on in the way. You are the strength of my life, who keeps me from fainting, sinking and dying away. You are my shelter when I am in distress and my hiding-place. Your gracious presence, power, promises, readiness to hear my prayer and the witness of Your Spirit affords me a holy security and serenity of mind.
I pray for a constant communion with You. I delight in You above any creature and depend upon You for I know that You protect me as Your own. May I fix my thoughts and devout affections on Your glorious excellencies. I know my safety and comfort is only found in a constant communion with You. May I sing Your praises to bring glory to Your name in particular when You lift me up above the noise of my enemies. Love me, and let me know that You love me. Whilst I deserve Your displeasure, I ask that in Your grace that You would correct me and not cast me away from Your presence. For that is hell to me.
Help me to understand
Help me to understand the meaning of Your providences towards me and make them plain. Let me know my duty in every doubtful case, that I may not mistake it, but may walk rightly. Cause me not to hesitate, but walk surely. When I am overwhelmed and my flesh and heart fail, cause my faith to keep me from despair, keep me hoping, and praying, and waiting. Let me be as those who walk by faith in Your goodness.
Help me keep close to You and to my commitments. Remind me to wait on You by faith, and prayer, and a humble resignation to Your will. Whatever I do let me be of good courage. Let my heart be fixed, trusting in You, and my mind stayed upon You, and then let none of these things move me. Let me be as those who wait upon You and have reason to be of good courage and good cheer. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
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