Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Psalm 27

Yahweh is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?...Though a host encamp against me, I shall be confident,(27:1, 3).

This psalm is a lifelong friend to me, standing alongside Psalm 23, Psalm 32, Psalm 37, Psalm 91, Psalm 139, and Psalm 1. These psalms, indeed the entire Psalter, have provided, and continue to provide, God’s music of the ages with their points and counterpoints, bass drums and trilling flutes, somber solos and glorious symphonic crescendos in my life. I can’t image life without the Psalms, without their tender expressions of God’s lovingkindness, without their sober reminders of His justice and judgment, without their portrayals of our eternal hope, and without their assurance of the unchangeable character of the True and Living God. 

The psalms are a marriage of the visceral and the intellectual, of the gut and the mind, of the heart-life and the thought-life; the psalms are expressions of the whole person worshipping Yahweh, the Creator and covenant-keeping God. It is no loss if we do not know the hottest music artists, Christian or otherwise, it is a loss if we do not know the Psalms. Everyday the Psalms bid us enter into their expressions of intimacy with our Father, they invite us to experience and understand the pilgrimage of the ages and to join our thoughts and feelings and actions to those who have gone before us as well as with our brothers and sisters on the earth today.

If David, in Psalm 22, could reach forward and touch the suffering of Calvary; then we can reach backward and allow that suffering to touch us. The Psalms testify to our Father, to the Messiah, and to the gracious Spirit of God that surrounds our lives. The Psalms also bear witness to the transcendence (with a lower-case “t”) of the human experience in time and location and culture; we all know hope and despair, joy and sorrow, commitment and betrayal, fear and courage, love and hate, the desire to know and to be known, security and insecurity…the list is endless.

I have recommended Psalm 27 to others more than any other Psalm (Psalm 23 is a close second). The psalm begins with a focus on Yahweh – He is my light and my salvation, based on that fact whom shall I fear? In an age driven by anxiety with people living in constant fear there are many opportunities to share and recommend this psalm.

Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; in a world of increasing isolation (if Facebook were really relational, considering the number of people on it we’d treat each other better in person than we do – Facebook must be one of the great lies of our time) the assurance that our heavenly Father is always with us, even when it appears we are alone, is an assurance that Christians desperately need and an assurance that non-Christians need to know is possible in Jesus Christ.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. Wait for Yahweh, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for Yahweh, (27:13 – 14). The long view is the stabilizing view. When we are discouraged we can take courage when we focus on God and not on ourselves, on His faithfulness and not on our meager resources; life should be a matter of His strength and not our strength, His purpose and not ours. We aren’t always going to understand this life, on our best days we are children compared to God; living in a fractured world is living in an unpredictable world; and life is as fragile today as it was millennia ago – many people will awake in the metropolitan area I live not knowing that today will be their last day; some may have a premonition, some may see it as the logical conclusion to a long illness, but some will not know – they will not know and their loved ones will not anticipate it. Life is fragile but God is not fragile – the covenant-keeping God of the Bible is a steadfast refuge for those who live in relationship with Him.

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