Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Psalm 27

Once again, I will be discussing a favorite biblical passage of mine – but this time from the Old Testament. It comes from the Psalm 27, a passage in which the psalmist (assumed to be King David) cries out to God for help and mercy. The passage is relatively long, but every word is heartfelt.

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[a] 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 tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle 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.

I first came across this passage during one of my job interview treks (aka 3-4 job interviews in one day). Perhaps I’ve read this psalm before, but I remember it now for the encouragement I received amidst one interview trek. For this particular occasion, I recall waiting for my next interview at a nearby Barnes and Nobles bookstore – feeling very weary and quite unhappy at my own situation. “Taking self-pity” would not be an inaccurate description. But I somehow opened to this psalm while sitting there and it struck me powerfully in its message. The central message is, as the first couple of lines indicate, trusting in the Lord.

The first part of this psalm is akin to posing a rhetorical question: if God is on our side, of whom should we be afraid? The psalmist rightfully declares that the “Lord is my life and my salvation”, and therefore we are to be afraid of nothing. Our confidence is in the Lord, the Creator of all things. To put this psalm in context, King David likely composed it while he was fleeing from the former King Saul of Israel. We can imagine that David could have felt loneliness and very afraid, as Saul commanded the entire army to hunt down and kill him. Yet even in this dire predicament, David remember to pray to God and ask for His help.

I particularly like verse 4, in which the psalmist declares that his only desire is to “dwell in the house of the Lord”. It creates both a beautiful and inspiring imagery: that even amidst the unrest and uncertainty, we can look to God and seek after Him. Because in God’s dwelling, we are kept safe and forever in the presence of our maker. In present-day society, this “house of the Lord” refers to the churches formed for the express purpose for worshippers to congregate and fellowship together. Because one of the best ways to glorify God is to love and care for one another.

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