Psalm 27: Triumphant Faith
The Psalm of Triumphant Faith
One of the most powerful psalms is Psalm 27, a psalm of David. The intensity of the expressions of faith and love (love for the Lord) in this Psalm are unique in the whole canon of Scripture. Primarily, this is a psalm of faith, fearless trust in God. We see here
i. The faith that stands. (Psalm 27:1-3)
We remember Paul in his exhortation to the Ephesian church, from Eph 6:10-18. He says, Be strong in the Lord, put on the whole armour of God, and stand firm, stand firm, stand firm! (Eph 6:11, 13, 14). We remember Paul’s testimony in 2 Tim 4:7 “I have fought the good fight (of faith), I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!” That’s what David is doing here. Though surrounded by evildoers, adversaries, enemies – a whole army of them – his heart will not fear. How boldly he stands up against the army of foes! They come roaring upon him to devour his flesh, but he stands. And even as he stands in faith, God strikes. We remember the Assyrian army that beseiged Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah; how when Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed, overnight 185,000 of the enemy were struck down by a single angel of God, Isaiah 37.36. They 'stumbled and fell', slain by the plague of God.
What amazing faith! 'Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear!' The courage of David. Our hearts tremble like a leaf at the slightest attack of the enemy, but even as a youth David stood up against a fearsome giant, and struck him down with a single stone from his sling.
ii. The faith that seeks. (Psalm 27:4-6)
Faith is a longing for God, a heart’s desire to reach out to Him. David seeks to
dwell in the house of the Lord, i.e. to be in the presence of the Lord. To dwell in the secret place of His tent, i.e. in the innermost chamber, in intimate communion with the Lord. We know that the tabernacle had the outer court, where the sacrifices were killed; the holy place, where the lampstand and the showbread were kept; and the most holy place, which had the ark of God. The outer court had natural light (sunlight), the holy place had candle-light (the light of the menorah), the most holy place had divine light (Shekinah glory). Like the psalmist in Psalm 91, David desired to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. He longed for sweet communion with the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord. Often in our quiet time, when we meditate on God’s word, divine light shines upon a passage of Scripture and we rejoice in what God reveals to us. At times, it is as if God is speaking to us. How rarely do we seek to spend time alone with God.
But David talks about something more. He says, ‘He will lift me up on a rock. Now my head will be lifted up above my enemies.’ There is a ‘lifting up’. It is as if God’s power is released, His mighty energizing power, resurrection power, and there is victory! David bursts forth into shouts of joy and songs of praise, 27:6. This should be our experience also. The Lord has spoken to me! And when He speaks, it is done! By faith, I appropriate the Lord’s victory! (1 John 5:4, 1 Cor 15:57)
iii. The faith that cries out (Psalm 27:7-10)
David has been seeking the Lord’s presence, the Lord’s face. And in doing so, as he fights the battle of faith and seeks the Lord with true heart-desire, he comes into the deep experience of the Cross. The Lord has hid His face from him. David feels that he has been abandoned. Even his loved ones, his father and mother, have abandoned him. It is real and deep anguish. There is in this section of the psalm the tone of deep agony that we see in Psalm 22. It is the fellowship of our Lord’s sufferings, it is the fellowship of the Cross. Every one of us who loves the Lord must sip of that bitter cup, but our Lord Jesus drained that cup down to its dregs.
Even in this crisis of apparent abandonment, David has the confidence that the Lord will take him up, will take care of him. Yes, our Lord is faithful. He will never fail us, nor forsake us. Paul had a similar experience, which he narrates in 2 Tim 4:16, 17. All his friends had forsaken him, but the Lord stood with him. David in his Psalms is the Old Testament counterpart of the New Testament Paul.
iv. The faith that waits (Psalm 27:11-14)
David has been battling it out. Satan wages unceasing war against the saints, using a variety of infernal devices. Here we see how the child of God has to endure the vicious attacks of false witnesses. Our Lord too went through this. It seems David reaches the point of despair (Ps 27:13a), but even then he has hope. He will see the goodness (grace, kindness, mercy) of the Lord in the land of the living. Though he has to wait long for deliverance, and he has to go through attacks on all fronts, he will ‘wait for the Lord’. Let patience have its perfect work. In patience he will possess his soul. The Lord will come in due course, with his mighty saving power. But meanwhile his heart is being strengthened (NKJV). After these great trials of faith, he has acquired an unwavering faith and a steadfast heart. He is not shaken; he is firm in the faith. The Lord has established his heart (Heb 13.8, 1 Pet 5.10)
(There’s more to this Psalm, and further reflections can be read in Part 2, in another hub.)