Ps 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?
Light – ‘is a natural figure for almost everything that is positive, from truth and goodness to joy and vitality (e.g., respectively, Ps 43:3 Isa 5:20 Ps 97:11 36:9), to name but a few.
‘Jehovah is himself the infinite good, the portion of his saints, their all and in all, their light and joy, their safety and deliverance, their strength and refuge, v1. Were our faith as stong as it should be, nothing could fill us with dismay or terror. Because God changes not, the state of his people is never desperate.’ (Plumer)
‘It is an unspeakable privilege to be in covenant with God, so as to be able to say of him, ‘He is my light, my salvation, and the strength of my life, v1. An impersonal God is hardly more full of vagueness, than is a God towhom we sustain no personal or federal relations.’ (Plumer)
Ps 27:2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
They will stumble and fall – The ‘they’ is emphatic – ‘it is they who will stumble and fall’ (not me, although, as v1 shows, my very life was in danger).
‘The way the wicked fail is terrible. If they had any wisdom at all, the deluge, the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts, or any one of their great defeats would have fully satisfied them that their war on God, his truth, and his saints was hopeless folly. Since the world began, the end of every battle they have fought against God and his people has been this, they stumbled and fell, v2.’ (Plumer)
Ps 27:3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
‘We can get the feel of these threats by remembering Davd’s desperate situation in 1 Sam 23:26-27, or Elisha’s in 2 Kings 6:15. Cf. also Ex 14:19-20,24, where the Lord was both a light to walk by and an intangible barrier against the pursuer.’ (Kidner)
‘The favourite grows great by the many favours, gifts, jewels, offices, the prince bestows upon him. The Christian grows rich in experiences, which he wears as bracelets, and keeps as his richest jewels. He calls one Ebenezer “hitherto God hath helped;” and other Naphtali “I have wrestled with God and prevailed;” another Gershom “I was a stranger;” another Joseph “God will yet add more;” and another, Peniel “I have seen the face of God.” 1 Sam 7:12 Gen 30:8 Ex 2:22 Gen 30:24 Gen 32:30. I have been delivered from the lion, therefore shall be from the bear; from lion and bear, therefore from the Philistine; from the Philistine, therefore from Saul; from Saul, therefore God will deliver me from every evil work, and preserve me blameless to his heavenly kingdom.’ John Sheffield.
Ps 27:4 one thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
One thing I ask of the Lord – Imagine you were allowed, not three wishes, but just one. What would you ask for? Would your desire be the same as the psalmist here? ‘Seeing David would make but one request to God, why would he not make a greater? for, alas! what a poor request is this-to desire to dwell in God’s house? and what to do? but only to see? and to see what? but only a beauty, a fading thing, at most but to enquire; and what is enquiring? but only to hear news; a vain fancy. And what cause in any of these why David should make it his request to God? But mark, O my soul, what goes with it! Take altogether -to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. And now tell me, if there be, if there can be, any greater request to be made? any greater cause to be earnest about it? For though worldly beauty be a fading thing, yet “the beauty of the Lord,” shall continue when the world shall fade away; and though enquiring after news be a vain fancy, yet to enquire in God’s Temple is the way to learn there is no new thing under the sun, and there it was that Solomon learned that “all is vanity.” Indeed, this “one thing,” that David desires, is in effect that unum necessarium that Christ speaks of in the gospel; which Mary makes choice of there, as David doth here.’ (Sir Richard Baker)
The house of the Lord – ‘It (the tabernacle, the sanctuary), is called the house of God because he is present there, as a man delights to be present in his house. It is the place where God will be met withal. As a man will be found in his house, and there he will have suitors come to him, where he reveals his secrets. A man rests, he lies, and lodgeth in his house. Where is a man so familiar as in his house? and what other place hath he such care to protect and provide for as his house? and he lays up his treasures and his jewels in his house. So God lays up all the treasures of grace and comfort in the visible church. In the church he is to be spoken with as a man in his house. There he gives us sweet meetings; there are mutual, spiritual kisses. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” So 1:2. A man’s house is his castle, as we say, that he will protect and provide for. God will be sure to protect and provide for his church. Therefore he calls the church of God, that is, the tabernacle (that was the church at that time), the house of God. If we apply it to our times, that answers the tabernacle now is particular visible churches under particular pastors, where the means of salvation are set up. Particular visible churches now are God’s tabernacle. The church of the Jews was a national church. There was but one church, but one place, and one tabernacle; but now God hath erected particular tabernacles. Every particular church and congregation under one pastor, their meeting is the church of God, a several church independent.’ (Richard Sibbes)
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord – ‘The Lord’s beauty, to be seen in his house, is not the beauty of his essence, for so no man can see God and live Ex 23:18,20; before this glorious beauty the angels cover their faces with their wings Isa 6:1-2; but it is the beauty of his ordinances, wherein God doth reveal to the eyes of men’s minds, enlightened by his Spirit, the pleasant beauty of his goodness, justice, love, and mercy in Jesus Christ.’ (Thomas Pierson, M.A., 1570-1633)
‘In connection with these words, we would try to show that the character of God is attractive, and fitted to inspire us with love for him, and to make us, as it were, run after him. The discussion of our subject may be arranged under three heads. I Some of the elements of the beauty of the Lord. II Where the beauty of the Lord may be seen. III Peculiar traits of the beauty of the Lord. I Some of the elements of the beauty of the Lord. God is a Spirit. Hence his beauty is spiritual, and its elements must be sought for in spiritual perfection. 1. One of the elements of this beauty is holiness. 2. But the elements of the divine beauty on which we intend at this time to dwell, are those which are included under the general description of God’s mercy and grace. The attractiveness of these is more easily perceived, and their influence is sooner felt by persons in our fallen condition. It is mainly through the instrumentality of these that sinners are won over from their enmity against God, and that the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. 3. Another thing, which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of his various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colours of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint; there is a beauty in it which would not exist if the several hues were assumed in succession-a beauty which is a result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner so the several perfections, which coexist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty. Holiness is beautiful; mercy is beautiful; truth is beautiful. But, over and above, there is a beauty which belongs to such combinations and harmonies as the psalmist describes, when he tells us, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep,” etc. II we are next to inquire where the beauty of the Lord may be seen It may so far be seen in the natural world. The throne of nature, although in some respects clouds and darkness are round about it, is not without its rainbow of beauty, any more than the throne of grace. The beauty of the Lord may be seen in the moral law. In the law! Even so. In the unbending law, with its terrible anathema, his beauty and amiableness shine forth. The law is full of love. The duties of the law are duties of love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. The curse of the law is designed and employed for the maintenance of love. Obedience to the law, and the reign of love, are but different aspects of the same state of things. And one of the most sublime lessons of the law is the fact, that God is love. Again, the beauty of the Lord may be seen in the gospel. We see it, as it were, by reflection, in the law; in the gospel, we see it directly. The law shows us the hearts of men, as God would have them to be; the gospel shows us God’s own heart. Again the beauty of the Lord is seen in Christ. It is seen in Christ, for he is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; and he that hath seen Christ, hath seen the Father. The beauty of the Lord is seen in Christ, when we consider him as the Father’s gift, and when we look to his offices and to his character. The character of Christ was the finest spectacle of moral beauty which men or angels ever set their eyes on. III we conclude by noticing some traits of the beauty of the Lord. 1. It never deceives. 2. It never fades. 3. It never loses its power. 4. It never disappoints.’ (Condensed from Andrew Gray (1805-1861), in “Gospel Contrasts and Parallels.”)
Seek him – ‘Seek him, a word of disputed meaning; most probable is “to come morning by morning,” to frequent his presence, giving him the beginning of each day.’ (NBC)
‘There is nothing that so characterizes and sets a stamp upon Christians so much as DESIRES.
All other things may be counterfeit, words and actions may be counterfeit; but desires and affections can-not. A man may ask his desires what he is! According to the pulse of the desires, so is the temper of a man. Desires are a great deal better than actions; for a man may do a good action, that he does not love, and he may abstain from an ill action, that he hates not.
But how shall we know that these desires are the chief things to distinguish a hypocrite from a true Christian, and whether they be true or not?
We need go no further than the text, “One thing have I desired.” His desires were holy and spiritual. It was not to be rich, have vengeance on his enemies, but nearer communion with God. But more, “that will I SEEK after.” It was not a flash or a blaze, that was soon cooled off and forgotten. His continued fervency showed that his desire was sound. He would not be quieted without the matter being accomplished. David would use all means to enjoy communion with God sweetly.
The sluggard lusts and has nothing. So there are spiritual sluggards that lust and have nothing, because they show not their desire in their endeavor. There will be endeavor where the desires are true!
But to resolve one question. How shall I know whether my desire is strong enough and ripe enough to give me comfort?
Is your desire of grace above the desire that you have for earthly things? Do you desire to be free from sin as a greater blessing than to be free from some calamity, then that is a good sign. And surely a man can never have comfort of his desire till his desires be raised to that fervency. For none shall come to heaven that do not desire the things that tend (help them to heaven) above earthly things; nor none ever shall escape hell that do not think it worse and more terrible than earthly miseries. God brings no fools to heaven that cannot discern the difference of things.
When we have holy desires stirred up by God, turn them to prayers.
Holy desires will be turned into prayers and then every attempt made to put them into actions. For instance, “I desire in earnest to be in the house of the Lord, I desire it of the Lord, I put my request to him in prayer and yet I do not attempt to put these desires() into action.” It is an argument, and sign of a good conscience, for a man to go oft to God with his desires. It is a sign that he is not in a wicked course; for then he dares not appeal to the presence of God. Sore eyes cannot endure the light; and a troubled conscience cannot endure Gods presence. Therefore it is good to come often into Gods presence.
Oft times men will pray and seem to receive no answer or comfort so they give over (stop). Will the hypocrite continue oft in prayer? Sometimes he will pray; but if God answer him not, presently he gives over; Gods children pray always, if the ground be good, if they see the excellency of the thing, and the necessity of it. When they see the excellency, and the necessity and the attainableness of it, and that it is attainable in the use of means, they need no more, they will never give over.(stop)
This is the reason involved in the petition “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
But can we do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven? And does Gods glorious kingdom come while we are here on earth? No, not in its perfection and completeness, but the soul that is guided with the spirit of prayer, it rests not in this or that degree (of answer) but prays till it be so in heaven. “Thy kingdom come.” I have grace now, but I desire glory. “Thy will be done.” I desire, and I will not give God rest, but pray till all my prayers are answered in heaven; and then I shall do the will of God perfectly. Thus we ought to eagerly, and constantly persevere in our desires, till they be fully satisfied, or else we are but hypocrites.
David did not have a blind desire for SOMETHING, but a desire to the right Object, to God to fulfill it.’
Psa 27:5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
‘Did you never run to a tree for shelter in a storm, and find fruit which you did not expect? Did you never go to God for safeguard in these times, driven by outward storms, and there find unexpected fruit, the peaceable fruit of righteousness, that made you say, “Happy tempest, which cast me into such a harbor”?’ (John Owen)
Ps 27:6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
‘Praise was often so exciting that worship could only be described as boisterous. There was dancing, (Ps 150:4) constant singing (Ps 33:3) and even tumultuous shouting. (Ps 27:6) There was nothing dreary about OT worship! In fact, one has the impression that in praising, men and women realise their highest end.’ (W. Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology, 165)
Psa 27:7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
Psa 27:8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Psa 27:9 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, O God my Savior.
Ps 27:10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
Cf. Isa 49:15.
Ps 27:11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
‘David is not only a worshipper seeking God’s face, vv8ff; he is a pilgrim committed to his way, v1, every step of it contested.
Lead me in a straight path – a prayer not for comfort but for rectitude.
My oppressors – This expression may contain the idea of vigilance (‘my watchful foes’, NEB). They are waiting for me to slip up, on the look-out to exploit any weakness on my part.
Psa 27:12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
Ps 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
I am still confident of this – ‘While some of the psalms contain an answering oracle (see 12:5,6) or an outburst of praise which is evidence of such an answer, whether heard inwardly or outwardly (cf. 28:6f), others show the psalmist holding on in naked faith, as we may have to.’ (Kidner)
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living – ‘implying that human life in this world is the arena within which God’s goodness is accessible to us.’ (DBI)
Ps 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Wait for the Lord – ‘The suppliant has no more to go on than the assurance that God is worth waiting for. But that is enough.’ (Kidner)