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Worship Message

Psalm 27

My attention has recently been drawn to some of the Psalms. Including the one we will talk about today, which is Psalm 27, written by David, perhaps before he became the king of God’s people, at a time he was going through some troubles in his life, one of which might have been the deaths of his parents. Some of us know that can be quite a difficult time.

I think one thing that draws me to Psalm 27 is that it summarizes very well the help God has available in times of trouble.

It also, including in verse 1, which is of course where we will begin, tells how David reacted to God because of what is available from Him, which is the reaction we are to have whenever we go through difficult times.

Today, Psalm 27, beginning with verse 1. Listen to how David viewed God. Oh, that we would see God the same way.

Verse 1. “The LORD [God] is my light.”

In my study, my attention was taken to the word “my.”

You see, we know God is light. That is expressed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as descriptions for both God and Jesus. But here, David wrote, “The LORD is my light,” which can mean either or both of two things.

First, light provides warmth. It can be comforting. It can be used as a guide, either lighting a path or being something in the distance that helps people know the way to go.

With that, the use of the word “my” can indicate God was the source of warmth, comfort, and guidance for David. Benefits he needed as he was going through difficult situations at that time. Benefits he would need when he became the king of God’s people.

On the other hand - second - David had to have known that as the king he one day would be, lots of people would look to him for the warmth of security, for the comfort of knowing someone capable was in charge, for the guidance the nation of God’s people would need. With that in mind, David recognized the only way he could be a light was by being reflective of God’s light.

That reminds me of the moon. As beautiful as the moon is, it is not its own light we see, but rather a reflection of the sun’s light. In the context of Psalm 27, the light of God, when David accepted it, was to be reflected off him so others could see and benefit from God. Hence his words, “The LORD in my light.”

David added, “The LORD is my salvation.” It was in God that David was safe, physically perhaps, but definitely spiritually. That was how he was able to face the problems he did have and would have, and survive them.

Plus, David wrote, “The LORD is the stronghold of my life.” That was the case physically. God was the source of the physical strength David had. That was also the case emotionally. David knew he could avoid fainting or sinking or dying away, not by his own power, but because the LORD was the stronghold of his life.

I’ve got to tell you. It seems so easy for some of us - for me anyway - to struggle emotionally when going through difficult times. Is that true for you? How important are these words of David in Psalm 27. In difficult times, God has light available. Will I look at that light? Not for it, for it is there. Will I look at what God has available? God has the power to keep us safe, at least spiritually. Will I accept that power? God offers to be my stronghold? Will I cling to Him in difficult times.

David did. He did all that. Hence his questions, Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Wow. What a statement of faith in God those questions are. Oh, that I would have and stick to a similar statement.

Even when - this moves us to verses 2 and 3 - even when “evildoers assail me, though a host encamp against me [that refers to the large number of enemies David had at the time], though war arise against me [which is how violent the host was, how eager they were to destroy David].

“Evildoers.” Who David referred to with that word were those who were uttering slanders against him, slander defined as a false statement told to hurt a person’s reputation.

I do not know what those statements were concerning David. Later in his life he committed two horrible sins. True statements could have been made against him then. At the time of Psalm 27, I do not know, but apparently false statements were happening or he would not have put this phrase into what he wrote.

What about you? Have you ever been slandered? I is not very pleasant, is it? In fact, the wording in some translations is not slander, but rather, adding the words adversaries and foes, is, “They came upon me to eat up my flesh.” Yuck. Quite a description of hardship, is it not?

But listen. David had seen, and he hoped it would continue, that all who were slandering him would “stumble and fall.” He hoped their purpose to destroy him would not be realized and that they would be dissuaded from trying again.

And listen. For David, that was more than a hope. It was an expectation. Hence his words in verse 3, “My heart shall not fear. Yet I will be confident.”

Again, what a statement of faith in God. Oh, that I would have and stick to a similar statement.

To help with that, David had a request. He wrote, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

Of course, that did not mean David wanted to enter God’s temple and never leave it. Yes, some did that, but that was not God’s plan for David. God’s plan was for him to be a king, which would include visiting the kingdom and doing battle in other kingdoms when that became necessary, all that being away from the house of the LORD.

David was not asking to be allowed to enter and then never leave the Temple. He knew that was not God’s plan for his life. What he was asking was that God would help him have a good, close, loving relationship with the LORD wherever he was. A relationship that would allow David to see God’s beauty. The kind of relationship that would encourage David to ask God questions. Questions about - what - maybe the meaning of life, maybe how to stay encouraged in the face of difficulties, maybe about how to rule well when he would someday become king.

You know what. Maybe being in God’s Temple all the time was what David would have preferred. Maybe that really was how he would have liked to live. But that was not to be the case. So David’s prayer was, “God, help me to see Your beauty wherever I am. Help me to feel free to ask questions so I can learn from You.”

That was David’s prayer. Oh, that it would be my prayer, too. Then what is recorded in verses 5 and 6 will be more likely.

Verse 5. “For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble.”

I have told this story before, but, I think, it bears repeating here. It is a story about an artist who was commissioned to paint something that would depict peace.

After a great deal of thought, the artist painted a beautiful country scene. There were green fields with cows standing in them. Birds were flying in a blue sky. A lovely little village lay in a distant valley.

The artist gave his work to the man who had done the commissioning. Right away, there was, on the man’s face, a look of disappointment. The man said to the artist, “This is not a picture of true peace. It isn't right. Go back and try again.”

The artist went back to his studio. For several more hours he gave more thought to peace, then returned to his canvas and again began to paint.

That time when he was finished, on the canvas was a picture of a mother, cuddling and smiling lovingly at her sleeping child.
Surely, the artist thought to himself, this is true peace. With that thought, he hurried to give the picture to the man who had done the commissioning.

The man refused that painting, too, and asked the painter to try again.

The artist went to his studio one more time. He was discouraged. He was tired. He was disappointed his best efforts had been rejected. Anger welled inside him. He felt completely unappreciated.

However, he again thought about his assignment. This time he also prayed, asking God for the inspiration he needed to paint a picture of true peace.

All of a sudden an idea came to the artist. He rushed to the canvas and began to paint as he had never painted before. When he finished, he rushed to the man who had given the commission.

The artist gave the painting to the man. The man studied it carefully for several minutes. The artist held his breath.

Finally the man said, “Now this is a picture of true peace.” He accepted the painting. He paid the artist. Everyone was happy.

What was the picture of true peace? It showed a stormy sea pounding against a cliff. The artist had captured the fury of the wind as it whipped rain that came from clouds laced with streaks of lightening. Below, the sea roared in turmoil. Waves churned.

But in one part of the picture - on the cliff, under kind of an outcropping - the artist had painted a small bird, safe and dry in its nest. Safe in the protection afforded by the rock. Despite the storm around it, the bird was safe. The bird was at peace.

That is the kind of peace David not only hoped for, but expected from God. David was confident the LORD would provide him shelter in the midst of his troubles.

That would, according to verse 5, happen when he was in the heights - when he was high upon a rock. It would also happen when David was lower. He was confident God would conceal him “under the cover of His tent.”

The result? This is verse 6. David was confident his “head would be lifted up above his enemies.”

His response to that? David promised to offer sacrifices to God. To “offer sacrifices with shouts of joy.” He promised to “sing and make melody to the LORD.”

So, know the LORD as light and salvation and strength. Have no fear, even in the worst of times, physically and/or emotionally. Desire a closeness to God. A closeness to see God’s beauty know His word. Seek God’s shelter. Be confident in it. All that is what David did. All that is what we are to do as well.

But how? Let’s move on to verses 8 through 11.

Verse 8. David wrote, “Thy face, LORD, do I seek.” David did that in response to God’s invitation to do so, but he knew seeking God’s face was needed to accomplish everything he wrote earlier.

Seek God’s face. What does that mean? It means to do all we can to keep in touch with God. At least in David’s culture, it meant to plead for God’s help, God’s favor, His mercy.

In other words, David knew the only way he would be able to know who the LORD is, the only way he would be able to have no fear, the only way he would be able to keep desiring a closeness to the LORD, the only way he could be confident in God’s shelter, the only way he could reflect God’s light was through the help of God. Therefore, David was willing to seek God’s face.

In verse 9, David continued the thought. He prayed God’s face would not be hidden. He prayed that God would not turn him away in anger. He prayed to not be cast off. Earlier he prayed that when he called to God, God would answer. All that so he would be able to see and learn from and be guided by God.

According to verse 10, David had been “forsaken” by his parents. That is what leads some to think his parents had died about the time he wrote Psalm 27. But he was confident the LORD would take him up. That God would listen. That God would let David see His face.

And get this. David was willing - verse 11 - to be taught. ‘Teach me Thy way,” David asked. David was anxious to know God’s word. God’s law. What those things meant and how to do them. He wanted to know God’s will for everything he did.

Then he asked, “Lead me on a level path.” That means he wanted to be kept on God’s way.

But there is significance in what he added. David wrote, “Lead me on a level path because of my enemies.”

Here is something I read, which is so true. Our enemies watch us, do they not? Including our spiritual enemies. They watch to see if we do something wrong. They watch to see if they can find a weakness in us. They watch to see if they can find some fear in us. They will use any or all those things against us.

David knew that. So he asked the LORD to lead him on a level path. A path of being right spiritually. A path of spiritual strength. A path of spiritual confidence.

Keep me seeking Your face, David asked of God. Keep teaching me, David asked of God. Keep leading me, David asked of God. That was a lot to ask. All of it was very necessary for him - and for us - but it was a lot to ask. Yet David was confident in knowing God’s affirmative answers to each request. Hence verse 13. “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

Therefore - verse 14 - even as troubles continued… And by the way, some translations of verse 13 put it this way. “I would have fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” The troubles David faced were that strong. But even as troubles continued for David - and as they continue for us - “Wait for the LORD, be strong, and let your heart take courage.”

Wait for the LORD. Stay with Him. Keep close to Him. Do not let your troubles divert your heart away from His face. Do that in many ways, including worship and prayer.

Be strong, be of good courage, let no trouble move you away from God. “Yea,” David concluded, “wait for the LORD.” Wow. What a statement of faith in God David made. Oh, that I would have and stick to a similar statement.

Let me ask. What troubles are you experiencing?

We know what at least some of them were for David. As mentioned, the recent deaths of his parents. Before that, being mistreated by his family. Even at the time Psalm 27 was being written, having to wait to become king, long after being anointed for that position. After that, troubles from his own kingdom, troubles from foreign kingdoms, and having to deal with the consequences of his own sins.

What about you? What troubles are you experiencing? Here are some that might apply to you, or maybe to someone you know, who you can help. A broken or unsafe home. Financial problems. Few friends. Medical issues. Fear of not being cool enough, smart enough, with it enough, having enough, achieving enough, or being impressive enough.

What troubles are you experiencing? More importantly - and hey, I am asking myself this question, maybe even more than I am asking you, so I am picking on myself, too - how do we react and respond to our troubles?

May we work at not responding with anxiety or discouragement. May we work at not reacting by shifting our priorities away from what God wants. May we work at not answering our troubles with a sense of a lack of spiritual well-being or by feeling like failures.

Instead, may we do what David did. What he taught in Psalm 27. May we know God as our light, salvation, and strength. May we have no fear, even in the worst of times. May we know we can accomplish that by having a desire that will encourage us to have a closeness to God. A closeness in which we can be confident of the peace of His shelter. May we, seeing God’s beauty and knowing His word, always seek His face, doing that by learning His way and following the path He has for us. May we, all the time, be strong and courageous as we wait on the LORD, all of those things being wonderful benefits of Him being our God.
One of the songs in our hymnal that is based on Psalm 27 is Teach Me Thy Way, O God. It is based on the verse that is David’s prayer to be taught God’s way and that God would lead him on a level path. Let’s sing that hymn.

Teach me Thy way, O God, teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford - teach me Thy way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with Heavenly light, teach me Thy way!

When I am sad at heart, teach me Thy way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me Thy way!

When doubts and fears rise, teach me Thy way!
When storms o’er-spread the skies, teach me Thy way!
Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil, and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is won, until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!

Let’s pray. God, You are light, salvation, and strength. Help us to know You as each of those things.

As that happens, help us to have no fear, even in the worst of times.

Help us to know we can accomplish that by desiring and having a closeness to You. A closeness that will bring Your shelter to us.

Help us to have confidence in that. Confidence that will come as we seek Your face and learn Your way and let You lead us on level paths.

Help us to allow You to give us strength and courage.

Thank You for being our God. Amen.

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