Saturday, March 03, 2007

Comfort And Strength From Psalm 27

Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Notice how David used personal pronouns throughout this Psalm. The Lord was his light, his salvation, the strength of his life. If there has been a time and place in your life that you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, then these passages apply directly to you also.

The Lord is your Light - He is the one that shines His Word on your path, that lightens your way, that enlightens your understanding. Are you following Him? Then, why fear?

The Lord is your Salvation - then why fear? If He has already delivered you from your sins, then trust God to deliver you (in His time) from whatever trials you are facing now... and trust Him meanwhile to give you grace to persevere in them and learn what He would have you learn about His work and His will in your life.

"The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation." (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David.)

The Lord is the Strength of your life - He is the eternal Rock underneath you that will not move (see Deuteronomy 33:27 and Isaiah 17:10), and the Faithful one you can rely on for the strength you need today (see Hebrews 10:23).

Verses 2-3 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

"Here is great courage for the time to come. 'Experience breeds hope and confidence.'" (Richard Sibbes, quoted in The Treasury Of David.)

Confidence comes from steadfast faith in the Lord, from focussing on Him and His promises to you in His Word. When you claim His promises and lean on Him for support, for protection, for peace in your heart and mind, then there is no cause for fear. The Lord is able to protect you and deliver you just as He was able to give His people victory and protection all down through the ages. Think of the nation of Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14) or King Jehoshaphat facing the Ammonite army (2 Chronicles 20), of Joshua facing the Canaanite nations or Gideon and his 300 men facing an army of 135,000 men, composed of Midianites, Amalekites and the children of the east that were gathered together against them.

Victory didn't come from their military might, their physical strength, or even from their use of reason or desperate schemes - victory came from the Lord of Hosts alone. If your trust is in the Lord your God, then be confident in Him and "Fear not, nor be dismayed"!

2 Chronicles 20:17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

Verse 4 One thing have I desired 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 enquire in his temple.

The house of the Lord is where the presence of the Lord was manifested to the nation of Israel - both in the tabernacle and then later in the temple that King Solomon built. God's presence is not limited to believers in a certain physical location today: He will manifest Himself to all those who seek Him in spirit and in truth, who walk in His ways, who keep His commandments and who abide in His Word and His love. (See John 4:23-24 and 14:21-23.) There is a special intimacy the Lord promises and reveals to those who walk closely with Him, and to those who are gathered together in His name.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

The New Testament church (ie. born again believers gathered together in a local assembly) is also referred to as "the house of God" in 1 Timothy 3:15 (see also Hebrews 10:21 and 1 Peter 4:17).

Being assembled together with other true believers, fellowshipping with the Lord, is a glimpse of Heaven upon earth - and one future day, we will dwell forever in His house, nevermore to leave His presence. All of Heaven is the Father's house - and the Lord Jesus Christ has made it ready for us! See Psalms 23:6 and John 14:2-3.

...to behold the beauty of the LORD...

"An exercise both for earthly and heavenly worshippers. We must not enter the assemblies of the saints in order to see and be seen, or merely to hear the minister; we must repair to the gatherings of the righteous, intent upon the gracious object of learning more of the loving Father, more of the glorified Jesus, more of the mysterious Spirit, in order that we may the more lovingly admire, and the more reverently adore our glorious God. What a word is that, "the beauty of the Lord!" Think of it, dear reader! Better far -- behold it by faith! What a sight will that be when every faithful follower of Jesus shall behold "the King in his beauty!" Oh, for that infinitely blessed vision!" (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David.)

Beauty is a particular excellence about something; that which is admirable or pleasant about something.

There is so much about the Lord Jesus Christ that we could admire, that is pleasant to meditate on, such as His unfailing love, His goodness towards us, His mercy that endures forever, His holiness, His compassion, His forgiveness, His faithfulness... The list could go on and on. What is beautiful to you about your Saviour?

Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

Like the fairest among flowers, so Jesus is the fairest among men, the chiefest among ten thousand.

Oh, to dwell in His presence, to think about His beauty, and to learn of Him and from Him! Oh, the blessedness of seeking the Lord's will and His Word together with other Christians.

Psalm 84:4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

No wonder they are still praising Him!

Verse 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

A pavilion is: a tent; a temporary movable habitation. In times of trouble, the Lord promised to protect, to hide, to cover David in His tabernacle, in His temporary dwelling.

"Where was the secret place of the tabernacle? It was inside the Holy of Holies. No one could go there but the high priest. Do you know what was in there? The ark of the covenant, which was only a box overlaid with gold; but upon the ark was the elaborate lid, which God designated as the mercy seat because blood was sprinkled upon it. Now in our day because the Lord Jesus has shed His blood, we have a mercy seat to which we can go. And that is where He hides us. What a secure place we have!" (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers] 2000, c1981.)

"No one of old dared to enter the most holy place on pain of death; and if the Lord has hidden his people there, what foe shall venture to molest them?" (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David.)

"Could he but have a place in God's house, There he should be quiet and easy: there troubles would not find him, for he should be hid in secret; there troubles would not reach him, for he should be set on high... The safety of believers however is not in the walls of the temple, but in the God of the temple and their comfort in communion with him." (Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary)

We have the same promise today. God's promise of protection is not limited to the Old Testament Jewish tabernacle, but is found in His holy presence.

Verse 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

Praise the Lord for the victories He has given us! Are you walking in light of those victories? Truly, Jesus has made us more than conquerors!

Psalm 105:1-3 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Are you offering the Lord any sacrifices today? A sacrifice implies that it cost us something, that we are offering something dear to us - much like King David did in 1 Chronicles 21:24.

Are you offering Him sacrifices of joy?

Are you offering yourself as a living sacrifice?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Are you offering the Lord sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving?

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

How about the sacrifice of righteousness?

Psalm 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Or the sacrifice of a contrite heart and a humble spirit?

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Verses 7-8 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

"If he cannot now go up to the house of the Lord, yet, wherever he is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer." (Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary)

As I was studying out these verses months ago, I was struck by the parallel to these passages in Esther:

Esther 4:11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

Esther 5:1-2 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Queen Esther wanted to approach the throne of King Ahasuerus - which if she had approached without his permission, it would have meant certain death for her. The king held out his golden scepter and gave Esther favour in his sight and then fulfilled her request. Similarly, apart from the Lord's favour/grace, we cannot approach God. But we have access to His throne of grace, access to our Heavenly Father through prayer, because of the Lord Jesus Christ's finished work upon the cross and our faith in Him.

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The King's scepter is extended; His invitation is given; we can approach His throne of grace and receive the mercy and grace we need to help us through whatever trials or situations we are facing today.

"Observe, that the command was in the plural, to all the saints, Seek ye; but the man of God turned it into the singular by a personal application, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. The voice of the Lord is very effectual where all other voices fail. When thou saidst, then my heart, my inmost nature was moved to an obedient reply. Note the promptness of the response -- no sooner said than done; as soon as God said "seek," the heart said, "I will seek." Oh, for more of this holy readiness! Would to God that we were more plastic to the divine hand, more sensitive of the touch of God's Spirit." (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David.)

Verse 8 is a promise, an invitation, a command. Seeking means that He can be found. (See also Jeremiah 29:13.) When the Lord calls you through your circumstances and trials, through His Word, through the inner prompting of His Spirit, do you seek Him there and then? Too often we put the Lord on hold - yet, this verse indicates that when we know He is speaking to us, it is an indication He wants us to fellowship with Him then - whether through prayer (our talking with Him), through reading His Word (letting Him talk to us), or both. There is something to be said for set times of seeking the Lord, but He never intended us to limit our fellowship with Him to only those times.

The fact that this inner prompting indicates that my Saviour is seeking to fellowship with me first has been a tremendous blessing to my heart - and a check to my spirit whenever I think to temporarily put off that prompting. The reason He is moving you to pick up His Word is because He wants to speak to you about something or to give you some passage to pass on to others. The reason He is bringing someone or something to your mind and prompting you to pray about that very thing is because He is desiring to move in that area and is waiting for your response. Is He speaking to your heart now? Then why not seek His face as you meditate on this study? I'm sure He would love to hear from you!

Verse 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When I was working on this part of Psalm 27, this stanza and chorus of a wonderful hymn came to mind:

The Solid Rock
(lyrics by Edward Mote)

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Chorus:
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

As the previous verse indicated, the Lord has been seeking us first; therefore any cloud upon His countenance is due to our sin (which separates from Him - see Isaiah 59:2) or our everchanging emotions/feelings. The solution to the first is to repent of the sin that came between us and the Saviour, and the solution to the second is to walk by faith, not by sight. When it seems the Lord has forsaken us, we must instead choose to believe by faith that our feelings are wrong, and put our eyes back upon the Saviour. The Lord has given us this promise in His Word:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Consider the following passage of Scripture:

Song of Solomon 3:1-4 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

The night mentioned here is the darkness that some trials cause in our lives (darkness from without - chapter five of the Song of Solomon deals with the Shulamite falling asleep spiritually; ie. darkness from within; backsliding), and make it seem that the Lord has abandoned us or withdrawn Himself from us (see also Job 23:8-10 and Isaiah 50:10). However, we see the solution is also presented in the same passage of Scripture: to keep seeking the Lord, keep our eyes steadfastly upon Him, and to abide continually in His Word through personal Bible study/meditation and listening to the watchmen (preachers) as they faithfully preach His Word (see Ezekiel 3:17 and 33:7).

Verse 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Many have strained relationships with their parents, some having been abandoned or cast aside for various reasons - yet the Lord promises to be there always for us.

My parents got divorced when I was two, and I grew up with my Mom, but later I did have an opportunity to live with my Dad on two separate occasions. For years, I had my parents turn away from me because of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and turning from the false religion I was raised with. Both my Mom and my Dad didn't want much to do with me - until the Lord broke through my Mom's blindness and she turned to Him in faith - then my Dad's health went downhill so fast that he realized he could very well die from his health problems. The Lord brought a preacher by to give him the Gospel, and he trusted in the Lord as well within the last year of his life. Within six months of each other, the Lord took them both home to be in Heaven with Him - and now though reconciled with them both, in one sense my sister and I felt abandoned, because they are no longer here.

As we meditated on this verse, we took comfort from the assurance it gave us of our Heavenly Father's love and care for us. He strengthened both of our hearts through the blessing of being our Heavenly Father, the Father of the fatherless. If you have experienced the loss of your parents (whether through abandonment or estrangement, or through their passing away), I trust the Lord has given you His precious comfort through His Holy Spirit, as He has done abundantly to me and my sister.

Psalms 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

Hosea 14:3b ...for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

Verses 11-12 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

A plea for instruction and guidance in a time of peril. Consider these verses on the same theme:

Psalms 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

Psalms 25:4-5 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Psalms 86:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Psalms 143:8-10 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Isaiah 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

Oh Lord, make your guidance to us so plain, that we cannot mistake it; so clear that we must be fools to forsake it. Teach us not only what your will is, but how to fulfill it in our lives. Lead us, Lord, each day, and guard our paths from those enemies that would seek to cause us to stumble in our walks with you.

Verse 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Our spiritual struggles - our temptations from the world, the flesh and the Devil - may cause us to be faint at times, yet it is our confidence and trust in the Lord that will strengthen us. First, David believed in the Lord's goodness, then he saw it at work in his life. The best remedy for the fainting and weary heart is to wait upon the Lord.

As we walk in faith, trusting wholly in His Word, we will see His goodness at work in our lives. When doubts and fears come our way, remember the Lord's goodness, and take courage from that.

Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalms 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Psalms 65:11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

Psalms 107:8-9 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

Jeremiah 31:14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

Verse 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

This is one of my favourite verses - and one of the verses that has helped me the most in overcoming my battles with depression. He promises to strengthen our hearts when we wait upon Him. The idea of waiting is two-fold:

Waiting on the Lord in prayer - looking to Him to move in our situations and bring us peace in the midst of the trial or struggle we are in.

Waiting upon the Lord in service - serving Him. The word "wait" is where we get our word "waiter" from: seeing what the Lord needs us to do (as revealed through God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit), and then serving Him in that regard.

When we wait upon the Lord in these ways, then we find our hearts are strengthened, and our eyes are fixed steadfastly upon Him.

Psalms 25:3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. (We need not fear or be discouraged; those who wait on the Lord will not be ashamed.)

Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (How much of our weakness of heart is because we put our eyes upon the wicked around us and began to fret about their prosperity?)

Psalms 62:1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. (Oh heart, why fail when the Lord promises to deliver you from your distress? Keep looking unto Jesus!)

Psalms 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Our hearts are strengthened by the hope - the confident expectation - we receive from the promises in God's Word.)

Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Of course, one of the most popular passages in the Bible...)

See the next verse too: Isaiah 41:1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. (The Lord says when we wait upon Him, we will renew our strength - then He commands the world to step back and give us that opportunity to do so!)

Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

What are you afraid of?

Keep your eyes on the Lord, and He will strengthen your heart, lead you day by day and give you victory over the battles in your life, and take away your fears as you hope and trust in Him alone.

Be of good courage - wait on the Lord!

March 3rd/07
Jerry Bouey

For more studies that use passages in the Psalms as the springboard:

Psalms Series

3 comments:

Maranatha said...

Brother Jerry, it is good to see you writing again! This was a tremendous blessing to me. It made me think of Day 14 of Morning Manna on Direction:

http://kate-p.blogspot.com/2007/02/morning-manna-day-14-direction.html

Praise God for His light and direction in our lives and how He strengthens us!!

Bro Tim said...

Bro Jerry what a great post. This sometimes is hard to do in my life. I sometimes want to rush God in opening doors for me. I do know if I wait on his timing I can not go wrong but if I rush things I can get in a mess. Thanks for sharing and good to have you back.
Bro Tim

Jerry Bouey said...

I wanted to add this part the other day, but then forgot it until after it was posted:

When I was working on this part of Psalm 27, this stanza and chorus of a wonderful hymn came to mind:

The Solid Rock
(lyrics by Edward Mote)

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Chorus:
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

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