Time for another psalm, and today it’s Psalm 27. This is David, and he is once again speaking of enemies. But more than that, he speaks of hope. This is not a desperate plea for rescue. Instead, this psalm is filled with the peace of someone who trusts that the situation is under control.
Lately a lot of people suggest the world is out of control. Some are afraid. Evil seems on the rise, and goodness is squelched. To hold onto the principles of God in our work or our families or in the public arena like social media—we are told to be quiet, that our words offend and should be stopped, and that any opinion other than the world-approved opinion has no right to exist.
There are enemies, and they encroach closer and closer. Whole denominations of God’s people fall, walking on sand instead of the rock of God’s Word.
This is nothing new. Read the words of Paul and you’ll see that wrong teaching has plagued the church from the first moments. Read Genesis and see that when the world had only two people in it, one was deceived. Enemies are as old as mankind.
And it is easy to be afraid. Sometimes those enemies get momentary wins. Those who love God suffer. It’s easy to look around and feel alone.
So, with that happy little introduction, let’s head into Psalm 27, which opens with David saying there is no reason to fear. Clearly he’s facing opposition, but he trusts from the first verse that God is more powerful than any enemy knocking at his door. With God as his stronghold, his fortress, he doesn’t need to fear.
I love the second section of this Psalm, where David says he wants to spend his life in God’s dwelling. To him, the presence of God is what matters. If God is with him, he is safe. Listen to verse five in several translations:
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. (NIV) Because he will shelter me in his own dwelling during troubling times; he will hide me in a secret place in his own tent; he will set me up high, safe on a rock. (CEB) There I’ll be when troubles come. He will hide me. He will set me on a high rock (TLB) He will surely give me shelter in the day of danger; he will hide me in his home. He will place me on an inaccessible rocky summit. (NET)
I love that the NET version uses the word Home. We are hidden in God’s home. When the enemy comes, is there any safer place than in the home of God? Is there any force that would dare to enter the home of the Living God to attack?
Luke 11:21 says, when Jesus is talking about himself as stronger than Satan, denying that he could be in collusion with the enemy of God, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”
As a child of God, I am more important than any possession, and God is the strongest, most fully armed creature that exists. If He says I am safe in His house, I am safe in His house.
But I still struggle
So why do we hurt? Why does the enemy get off shots? Why were prophets killed? Why are there martyrs? Being safe in God’s house doesn’t seem so safe.
Except God’s house is eternal. I am safe in God’s house not just from today’s attacks, but for all of time. Yes, out here in the world I may struggle. I may see some victories and some defeats. But my soul, dwelling in God’s house, sitting at his feet basking in his love and beauty? That doesn’t flicker. There I am safe. Whether my body is here or there, my soul is always, always safe, and that’s the permanent, deepest part of me.
Ann Voskamp uses the term soul safe very often in her writing, and I love that term. Whatever happens in this mortal world, I am soul safe. So are you.
Talk with me…
Let’s jump to verse eight. Again, different translations give us two different meanings to this verse, but they are similar enough to make a point. David has asked to be in God’s house. He knows there he is safe, soul safe. God will hide him there, conceal him, make him inaccessible to the enemy. And being hidden? That’s active. We aren’t safe because we’re hanging out in God’s house. No, he goes one step further and actively protects us. He’s aware of us and conceals us from enemies.
In verse eight David says this:
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. (NIV) You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” (ESV)
Whether the prompting is directly from God or comes from David’s heart, which knows God, the message is the same. We seek God’s face in trouble. Our hearts know that He is our safety. I especially love how the NLT translates this verse: My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
So, the enemy comes, and I am hidden safely in God’s house and come to Him in conversation. God says not to worry what goes on outside, for here in the safety of His house we can converse. He can teach me, and I can learn. He can guide me, and I can follow.
Which happens to be the next passage of the Psalm. In verse 11 David specifically asks God to teach and lead him in the way he should go.
But verse ten… I love verse ten. Again with the translations, but in verse ten David says that God will always be for him. “If my father and mother forsake me…” God will take him up. Gather him up. Receive him. Adopt him. Hold him close. Take him in. Whatever the translation, God can be counted on even in situations where the love of a parent might fail.
We see this all over Scripture, the promise that God won’t leave us, won’t forsake us. When God made his covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15), He took both sides of the promise because he knew Abraham’s people would fail, and He knew He would not. He planned to hold onto his people to the end, regardless of what they did.
God won’t forsake us because He made a choice before time began to hold onto us until the end and beyond. That’s a comfort unlike any other.
Are you seeing why David can start this Psalm with a calm peace in the face of enemies? He is assured of a place. His heart knows to talk to God in times of trouble. He knows God’s love is stronger than the love of a parent.
Then we finish the Psalm with one belief and one command. David says he knows he will see God’s goodness in the land of the living. In other words, blessings aren’t saved for Heaven. God is here with us now. The blessings start here. Yes, so do the hardships, but God is always here, gathering us close, taking us in, setting us on rocks, not just in the future but in the present. These promises are for now. Today. Even in the crazy, chaotic world we live in, God is wrapping his arms around us to keep us safe.
The painful wait
And then the command. This one doesn’t sit well with the 21st century human, because David tells us to wait.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. V 14
I don’t like to wait. But God says to wait many, many times in Scripture. His timing isn’t my timing. Waiting strengthens me. It demonstrates my trust in God. Waiting is required because God’s ways and plans aren’t mine.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Ps. 40:1
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Ps. 5:3
Remember who’s talking here. I mentioned this in another recent post, but David knew how to wait. After being anointed as king, he waited years for that promise to come to fruition. He hid in caves for years waiting. I admit I don’t have to do my waiting from the depths of a cave with an angry king searching to kill me.
Bringing it home
Let’s put it all together. The enemy is knocking, chasing me down to devour me. Maybe it’s the wisdom of the world trying to knock me from my principles. Maybe it’s fear and anxiety. Maybe that enemy is broken relationships or unemployment. Whatever it is, it’s powerful, and it’s here.
David says not to be afraid of it. God is my salvation, he says. My fortress. I am safely hidden in God’s home. Not just taking sanctuary, but hidden, actively protected by the strong man who owns the house. While I’m here, God wants to converse with me. I sit at His feet and learn from Him. Whatever happens, He will not abandon me. Even if every person abandons me, God will always take me in. Always. And here, in the midst of the enemies, I will see His goodness. If I wait for Him, I will be strong and will see His answers.
Take heart, anxious friends. Tired friends. Uncertain friends. You are safe on a rock. The strongest of strong men sequesters you in his home. You are soul safe and known and loved. You can walk into an uncertain world certain of these truths, meaning you don’t have to fear. But if you do fear, God will never, ever give you up and abandon you.