Whom Shall I Fear? (Psalm 27)Series: Psalms (Worshipping God)
Turbulent storms come upon all of our lives. These are really challenging because you can never predict when they will come. It might be a tough day, month, year, or decade. It can hit whenever.
When we are experiencing peace, this realization can cause us to live in fear. And as we all know Star Wars: fear can lead to some bad stuff. This fear of tragedy, of losing peace, of losing people, our health or lives, it leads to misplaced desires. We hold onto this world and its desires and we quietly lose our direction and priorities... because of fear. Fear is quite dangerous! Psalm 27 is a song that reminds us of how to deal with these dangerous fears. It reminds us of what our real concern and desire needs to be. Let's notice verses 1-3 together.
The Lord Is My Light and Salvation (vs. 1-3)
David says the LORD is his light, his salvation, and his stronghold. When everything is dark, he lets me see. When there is no way out, he saves me and makes me feel safe. So, you know what I have realized? Everyone is always spending this time wringing their hands, but with God as my light and salvation, who should I really be afraid of? When evil people come at me like hungry animals ready to devour me, I know - whether it's sooner or later - they will be the ones to fall. Even if there is an entire army encamped against me, I can be confident.
This recent situation where Ruth came early and was in NICU for 18 days helped me come to the same realization. Those first two weeks were really wild - and yet, in the midst of it, because God is our light and because his people are so kind to us, we felt like we were able to find firm footing... No matter what comes our way God can enable us - to get through it one step at a time. If we seek him, he will shine light on our path. If we run to him, we will find him to be a refuge. The words in this book are so comforting.
Note that God is not the genie who snaps his fingers so that David never encounters enemies. Rather, the LORD is a light, salvation, and stronghold while enemies assail him. We get in trouble when we start seeing God in the wrong way.
So, allow David to encourage us: when God is caring for us, let's not "wait for the other shoe to drop." It will drop, but if we are on the side of the LORD that is nothing to fear. If we let ourselves be afraid, we all know how that leads us to start thinking about our possessions, our health, our energy, our time. We start obsessively protecting our peace and quiet by hoarding everything we have. Or we overindulge to quiet our anxiety. Let's not go down that path. The Lord is our light and our salvation, what do we really have to be afraid of? Humbly recognize that evil days will come, enjoy the peace when God gives it, and seek his refuge when he takes it away.
One Thing I Seek (vs. 4-6)
David is saying here, "Enemies may attack, but I won't be afraid, because here's what I am really concerned about and seeking after: I want to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life." Now, think about that. In David's day, the house of Yahweh was a tent. And David wasn't a priest, so he wasn't allowed in. Rather, David was a king who probably had a pretty awesome palace. So, where is this desire coming from?
It all starts with Eden. In the beginning, God walked in a garden called Eden or Paradise and Adam and Eve were permitted to live there in God's garden. Everything was full of holiness, life, and joy there, so they were forced to leave when they sinned against God. God put cherubim with a sword on the East at the entrance to prevent anyone from coming into the garden. And though Eden was a real, literal place on our planet, you can't find it here anymore, can you? It has been taken back into heaven.
When God gave Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, it was designed to look similar to the garden of Eden in many ways. And God said in this time that he would walk about with his people in and through this tent. Through this tent- this house of God- God was saying, "I want what we had in Eden again!" And David is here saying: I want that too!
But there was a problem. Just as cherubim guarded the way into Eden, cherubim were depicted on the veil that separated God's throne from the people. Through the veil, God was saying, "Yeah, but we can't right now."
And David is saying that this is the one thing he wants: to dwell in your house all my days. Though David had a nice palace, he knew it was far more valuable to be able to look upon the LORD's beauty and to inquire of him. Though he had many mighty men, he knew that in Yahweh's house there is perfect security. And there - without fear - David would be able to sacrifice, shout with joy, sing, as I make melody to the Lord. Just as with the Exodus, the reason the Lord set them free from Egypt is so they could come to his mountain and worship him. This is why David wanted to live in God's house, this is why he wanted to be free from fear of his enemies.
What is it that we want more than anything else? What do we desire to have? Where do we desire to be? I hope we can see that there is no better place than the Father's house, his temple. There's security, joy, and there is the LORD. When everything goes bad, where else could we turn? When everything is good, who is a greater joy? Who is more beautiful?
Before Jesus died, he assured the apostles: there are many rooms in my father's house. When Jesus died, the veil with the cherubim was torn. The way into the Father's Eden-like presence is open. When he comes again, he will take us to that new "temple." But we have a challenge: we have mansions here, can we set our eyes on a room in his house? We have many splendors here, will we desire nothing more than to look upon him? We have a lot of entertainment here designed to please us, will we desire nothing more than to kneel and sing before him?
The New Testament authors said that in between now and that great day, we together are the Lord's house, his temple. When we come together to give him honor and glory, see it as a rehearsal for that great day. Let's make this our one thing — our priority, our joy. If we do not love this now, we will not love it then.
And so, David is not concerned about scary things, he just wants to line in the LORD's house. And now he's going to say, "I'm not distracted, I'm seeking your face." But now notice what has driven him to this focus.
Desperate Pleading (vs. 7-12)
False witnesses have risen up against him, enemies are breathing down his neck, and he is concerned the LORD is angry with him. In Hosea 5 God said he would be like a lion tearing Judah apart until they sought him earnestly. Suffering was meant to help them desire God's face more than anything else.
Do you know when we sing and make the most meaningful melody in our hearts to the Lord? Do you know when we realize that the LORD is a light and a stronghold? When we realize that we want to live nowhere but in the Lord's tent? When we want nothing but for him to let us in? When stuff like that happens. When we are weak. Somehow, when we are at our weakest, we can be enabled to better lean on God. Somehow, when we are at our weakest, we can be our strongest. (Cf. 2 Cor 12)
But that is only if we will seek the face of the Lord when foes on earth and foes in the heavenly places come against us. There are just a lot of other comforts and splendors we can seek when our heart is full of many troubles, aren't there? There's drinks, pills, games, Netflix, delicious food, shopping therapy-all kinds of things to distract us from the pain for a couple of hours. They take away the opportunity to cry in our closets before the Lord. I think it will help me cope, but if only robs me of the opportunity to be strong in the LORD.
If we want to be strong in our weakness, seek his face. But don't stop there. Note vs. 11. So many want the salvation of God without the teaching and direction and correction of God. Let that not be us.
Concluding Hope (vs. 13-14)
Let's long to be led by him and to see him and to dwell in his house forevermore. Life is full of so many troubles, and we wonder where God is. He has said, "seek my face," And we are looking, longing. Verses 13-14 give a final comfort.
Eden and much of the goodness of the LORD is invisible to us now... But now the cherubim is gone. Through Jesus' sacrifice, we have a way in. John and Ezekiel saw visions of how - one day - God's city will come out of heaven to reside with us again. In that day Ezekiel saw that the whole world would be like Eden.
We will see the goodness of the loins in the land of the living. But we must wait for the Lord. And that takes strength and courage. Be strong. Do not be afraid. Set your hope on Jesus. He will give us our heart's desire and bring us to his Father's house.