Psalm 27 TALK: Fears, Darkness and Light

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

 PSALM 27 TALK

FEARS DARKNESS AND LIGHT

(FEARS DIPELLED BY GOD’S LIGHT)

 INTRODUCTION

 A creative writer in the USA explained what fear is, “fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response. The stimulus could be a spider, a knife at your throat, an auditorium full of people waiting for you to speak or the sudden thud of your front door against the door frame”.

Fears are therefore a part of the human makeup if we didn’t have fears we would be in danger in many aspect of our lives. However ill founded fear can be a crippling problem in our lives as Yoda advised Anakin “Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

Even though Star Wars is fiction this quote sums up very well how fears can control and destroy us and where they come from, “The dark side” and the bible has a lot to say about fear, darkness and light and in fact Psalm 27 is all about these three key issues, fears, darkness and light. We have seen in many of David’s Psalms that he went through many dark times and faced many hostile enemies and, humanly speaking had much to fear but David time and time again looked to God and found great comfort, peace and joy. Psalm 27 reveals David’s secret of how he faced fear and what he says, I’m sure will both surprise you and give you great encouragement in your daily battle with fear and darkness. As a child I was afraid of the dark and had to sleep with a small light on for many years. In this study we will see the darkness of sin and life without God is very real but in Jesus we have great light and in him we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Read Psalm 27

 In this Psalm I would like to use five key phrases as my headings for the different parts of this Psalm.

  1. WHOM SHALL I FEAR (1 – 3)
  1. TO GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD  (4 – 6)
  1. HEAR MY VOICE WHEN I CALL OH LORD (7 – 10)
  1. TEACH ME YOUR WAY, OH LORD (11 – 12)
  1. WAIT FOR THE LORD (13 – 14)

 

1.     WHOM SHALL I FEAR (1 – 3)

 As I have already mentioned David lived a difficult and dangerous life full of many opportunities to have much fear. He was called to be the Lord’s anointed King and as we saw in Psalm 2 this meant as he writes in the first two verses of that Psalm, “Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain. The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One”. We saw through Psalm 3 and 4 that this meant this great opposition to David’s Kingship even came from within his beloved family when his oldest Son Absalom rebelled against him. The mad and powerful King Saul chased him for eight years all over the place and many Psalms like Psalm 6 speak of terrible sicknesses David endured. Finally David felt the pain and difficulty of constantly being falsely accused of things he did not do and all this would cause all of us to be emotional wrecks paralyzed by fear and pain.

But not David as he starts Psalm 27 with the amazing word’s, “The Lord is my light and my Salvation whom shall I fear”.

David had a real and powerful faith in God. Someone once said to me “to have a big faith in God I must first have a big view of God” and David certainly had this. Just in these three verses something of David’s view of God is revealed. David expresses 3 views of God here :

1. God is his Light

2. God is his Saviour

3. God is his stronghold

 

1. God is his Light

First of all David sees God as his Light, We are all born into what I call spiritual darkness and most people are in so much spiritual darkness they are not even aware they are in it. David saw the light. He had his eyes opened by God and the light shinning down to us comes through his word. Christianity is what is called a revealed religion, that is we believe God has revealed himself to us. Of course in John 8 verse 12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.

Jesus is “The word become flesh”, John 1 : 14 and perfectly reveals God to us. Some people might ask, “What is God like”? the answer is look at Jesus as he perfectly reveals God to us.

David did not know the perfect revelation of Jesus Christ but he did know how God revealed himself to his nation, Israel and to himself on many occasions when he faced danger. This leads to David’s next stated big view of God.

2. God is his Saviour

God is not only light to David he is his Saviour and as we have already seen both go hand in hand. Israel knew God because he revealed himself to them when he saved them out of Egypt and on many other occasions before that and after that. David had been saved by God on many occasions in his life and therefore God to him was Light and Salvation to him.

Jesus came to this world not to just reveal who God is and what he is like but to save us from our sins. Interestingly just as it was to David and Israel case, the revelation of God to us is clear to us by his act of salvation for us. As Jesus hung on that cross we see both what God is like, love and totally just and we see his salvation by the fact that Jesus death was to Save us from the penalty of sin paid for by his death for us.

3. God is his stronghold

If God loves us so much to send his only Son to this world to save us from our sins how much more can we trust him then to help us in our daily struggles against the forces of this dark world. This is what David means in his words, “of whom shall I be afraid”. He did not ultimately fear evil men, war or anything else the Devil could throw at him. As Paul says in Roman’s 8 verse 31, “If God is for us, who can be against us”.

Not that we wont become fearful throughout our lives but will we will not let the circumstances of our lives define us? Or will we let God through Christ control and direct us?

Therefore like David God is our stronghold.

  1. TO GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD  (4 – 6)

David now moves into a prayer, something we have seen him do in many Psalms so far.

What then is David asking for when he seeks dwelling in the house of the Lord, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and hiding in the shelter of God’s tabernacle?

In Luke 10 verse 39, we read of what Mary chose to do when Jesus came to visit her and her sister at their house, she, “sat at the Lord’s feet”. Martha of course chose to run around the house to madly prepare food etc. for Jesus. Martha was upset with her sister Mary who chose to stop and be with Jesus listening to him. Jesus says to Martha, Mary chose what is better.

I believe David is asking for in Old Testament terms what Mary got. He wants to be close to God, he wants to sit at the feet of his Saviour and fellowship with him. We saw in Psalm 23 verse 6 that David longed to, “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. It is interesting that the Temple, which is the physical house of the Lord on earth, had not yet been built and in fact God instructed David not to build it himself but rather it was to be built by his son Solomon.

Did God therefore tell David that the answer to his prayer to be with God in his house forever, as we see in Psalm 23 and verses 4 to 6 is a big no?

Of course not because David is not asking to be in some earthly building forever but to be in what that earthly building would become to represent, “God’s dwelling place with us”. David wanted to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”, he wanted to be in God’s presence.

We saw in Psalm 17, that David wanted to be close to God at all times and in fact God’s promise is he is because Psalm 17 verse 8 read’, “Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings”, God is so close we saw in that Psalm that we are the little image in the pupil of God’s eye.

David knew that the answer to any fear is the God of Light and Salvation but we must look to God to have our fears dispelled by him.

Like Mary we must come to Jesus and sit at his feet and listen to him if we want to know this great God who dispels all fears and anxieties we might have in this life.

The wonderful thing to say here is that what David prayed for as he faced all kinds of dangers and difficulties is not only something we can know now but is what we can look forward to in the future. Through Jesus we can see something of “the beauty of the Lord” but as Paul says in 1 Cor. 13  verse 12, “now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror: then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part: then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”.

3.  HEAR MY VOICE WHEN I CALL OH LORD (7 – 10)

In verse 7, David prays another prayer, some have argued that this second part of the Psalm does not fit with the first half of the psalm as the confidence in God and his presence to dispel his fears seems to go.

Of course I don’t go along with this and feel that this next part of the Psalm has some incredible truths to teach us to flesh out how we deal with fears in our daily lives.

David prays now a very real prayer, he asks God to not forsake him. Is David’s faith waning here is he doubting God as his light and Saviour?

No he is simply not taking his relationship with God for granted. As I said in the introduction, fear is a healthy emotion for a human being. Physically we need fear to help us deal with danger. As young people go through adolescence they take greater risks in life and many pay the ultimate price for their dangerous risk taking activities. As we become wiser and mature we know how to fear that which might kill or hurt us.

Spiritually we must do the same. There are things we should have a healthy respect or fear of and the biggest one of these I believe is taking our relationship with God for granted.

In these 5 verses David gives us 3 things we must always keep in mind if we don’t wont to take God for granted:

1. Always depend on the Mercy (Love) of God

2. Always look to the real God of the Bible

3. Always approach God in a humble reverent way.

 

1. Always depend on the Mercy (Love) of God

Note how David came to God in this second prayer, he asks for God’s mercy. David knew all to well that he was a sinner and only by the mercy or grace (Love that is not deserved) can he approach God in prayer.

When we stray from trusting and believing in the grace of God then we are on the slippery slide of falling out of the presence of God as Paul says in Ephesians 2 verse 8 and 9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast”.

So David asks for his verse to be heard not because of anything he is or has done but simply because the God he is praying to is a God of mercy and grace.

2. Always look to the real God of the Bible

 In verse 8 David refers again to being close to God, he asks, “Your face, Lord I will seek”. David wants to come to the real God, the God who is his light and Saviour. In David’s time there were many so called God’s a different ways to see and know them. But the God of the bible is the true and living God and David wants to be close to him.

It is much the same today, many voices shout at us to believe this or that about God or being a spiritual person. When we as true Christian believers say that there is only one way to God and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ we are rejected and often ridiculed. I was speaking to a lady from my church the other day about going on a trip to England. She told me a bit about her trip but warned me about how many of the great Christian Churches of that place have stopped believing in Jesus as the only way to God. She met this reality in the face when she visited the famous Cathedral in England and met a lady who ministered there who told my friend she was a Unitarian and believed that all religions led to the one and same God. When my friend quoted the words of Jesus in John 14 verse 6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me”

the lady scolded her by saying, “You are a very narrow minded person”.

Narrow as we might seem to be Jesus is the only way into the presence of God, we can only come to see his face when we first come to see the face of his Son, Jesus Christ. The writer to the Hebrews at the end of chapter 9 speaks of how Christ has entered heaven for us, like the Old Testament priest entered the inner sanctuary of the Temple once a year on behalf of the people to present to God a sacrifice for their sins. He completes his argument in verses 27 and 28 with these words,

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him”.

We there fore must only approach God through Christ or we will fall away from the true God of the bible and that is a great thing to fear.

3. Always approach God in a humble reverent way.

 In verse 9 David seems to loose that wonderful confidence in his God he expressed in the opening verses. However when you look a little closer I’m sure you see David again not taking his God or especially his relationship with him for granted.

Many have fallen badly in their Christian walk by taking their relationship with God for granted. They become dead in prayer times and bible reading or stop fellowshipping with other Christians or even worse start getting involved in spiritually dangerous activities or thinking.

There is a famous saying that reads, “If you feel far from God, guess who moved. A big teaching right throughout the Old Testament is that God never gave up loving his special people Israel but they often fell away from loving and serving him. I really like how this message is handled in the book of Hosea were God is pictured as a devoted husband and Israel is pictured as a unfaithful and adulterous wife. Hosea is even led to carry out in his own life this picture of the loving husband and the adulterous wife.

David too knew sin and turning away from the God who always loved him. He experienced great pain and punishment from God when he became complacent in his relationship with God and committed the dual sins of adultery and murder. Yet he returned to the Lord in repentance and faith. This is why David was led to pray in verse 9.

“Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper”.

David knew what it was like to be out of step with God and he did not want to experience that again. He knew he must always approach God on the basis of his love for us and in a humble and reverent way.

There are two fears we must always have, the fear of God, which the book of Proverbs says is the beginning of wisdom and the fear of getting out of step with God. God will not leave us but we can attempt to leave him and as David makes clear from the opening verse of this Psalm it is only in God we have light and salvation.

What is David talking about in verse 10, when he speaks of being forsaken by his parents.

1 Samuel 22 : 3,4, we read of David’s parents being sent by him to the safety of  the Moabites owing to the problems he faced from Saul. David feared that Saul would get at him through his mother and father. From that day on David was truly on his own, except he had God in his life protecting, comforting and guiding him as he fled from the wrath of Saul. This is probably what David is referring to in this verse.

4.  TEACH ME YOUR WAY, OH LORD (11 – 12)

David now makes the next step of asking for God to guide him. One of the greatest fears of all Christians is not knowing what God wants us to do with our lives and making the wrong choices in life. Do I take this job or not? Do I marry this person or not? Do I live in this place or not?

These and many other questions all come under the heading of guidance. David does what we all should do he prays for guidance.

Verse 11 reads, “Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”.

I have often used in my own life the well-known verse on guidance that is similar to this verse.

It is of course Proverbs 3 verses 5, and 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”.

In the end I have found that if we take these verses seriously all our decisions on what God wants us to do should first and foremost be made in a attitude of prayer, following the principles God has given to us in his word and then acted upon in acknowledgement of him. This means if our lives are God honouring God will lead us and show us the way.

I have experienced actually stepping out for God in prayer to try something new and God has on some occasions opened up the way for me and on other occasions something has happened to stop me as I sought to move forward. My going on two mission trips to Myanmar is a great example for me of God Making my way straight. One job I took many years ago was such a disaster I left it within two months. My thinking when I took that job was God was leading me into a more administration role rather than a ministry role. The job and my bad experience of it taught me I was wrong, God did not want me working with facts and figures he wanted me to continue to work with people.

Interestingly in verse 12, David indicates this prayer for guidance is brought about by his current battle with his enemies,

“Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence”.

As we battle to live our Christian lives in this world we to will be led to pray for guidance. Should I speak up? Or should I keep quiet? When we see things that are going against God and his word today. If we do speak up then we too, might find enemies opposing us who falsely slander us for doing so.

But when we do we must remember the words of our Lord when he says,

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”, Matthew 5 : 10

5. WAIT FOR THE LORD (13 – 14)

David completes this wonderful words with a word of encouragement and a final word of advice.

1. A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

 In verse 13 he returns to something of the confident sounding words of the first three verses.

“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.

One of the great criticisms of the Christian faith is that it is all about, “Pie in the sky when you die”, in other words it has no real value or relevance to life now or today. How far from the truth this is. The eternal life God promises us in Christ starts from the moment we believe in Christ.

When I was a kids counselor on camps for a number of years we had a tradition of giving all the kids in our care a autograph followed by a verse or two from the bible. One of my favorite verses I gave my kids was John 8 : 31, 32,

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.

The other verse I liked to write down for my kids also came from Johns gospel, John 10 : 10,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

These verses should make us realise that we not only have pie when we die but we have pie now to. This is what David is saying when he says, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.

2. A WORD OF ADVICE

 The final verse, 14, contains a great word of advice especially for us in this instant and high pressure must have now world we live in. David dares to advice us that sometimes we must wait for the Lord.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”.

This is a word of advice I must constantly remind myself of because like most of us I am a child of the age we live in and I am very impatient at times. When my Internet connection is slow, when I have to join a long line for something, when a meal takes a little long to come to my table at a restaurant you don’t wont to be around me. But maybe God is making me go through this to learn the lesson that sometimes I must learn to pull my head in and wait.

When we pray and God doesn’t answer us quickly and we begin to doubt or become up tight in our Christian faith, maybe we must learn again, we need to wait on the Lord. He could be teaching a valuable lesson that we must be patient and trust in him. Sometimes I have had to learn this lesson the hard way but as Hebrews 12  verse 5 says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son”.

CONCLUSION

 So we have come on an incredible journey of faith in God in the face of fear. It started with David triumphantly proclaiming in the face of great fear with God as his light and salvation “whom shall I fear”.

This led David to ask God in prayer for one thing, “to be able to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”.

Even with the promise of God’s close relationship with us, David did not become complacent as he asks God to, “Hear his voice when he calls upon God”.

He then asks for God’s guidance as he faces his enemies with the words, “teach me your way, Oh Lord” and he finishes his poem with some wonderful words of advice for all who face difficult situation with the words, “Wait for the Lord”.

I would like to finish with the great words of encouragement in the doxology at the end of the little one chapter book of Jude,

“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen

Read the poem based on this Psalm

The Lord of Light

  (Based on Psalm 27)

 The light ,

The light shines so bright

The light is in my mind and in my heart

Giving me hope and life

He calms my fears

He protects me against my enemies

Yes the Lord is my light.

 

The night,

The night reigns in darkness

The night seeks to overwhelm me

Sending me war and strife

He protects me

He saves me and gives me victory

Yes the Lord is my light.

 

One thing I long

I long to see his face

I long know your story

I long to dwell with him

In glory.

 

The rock,

The rock keeps me secure

The rock is my foundation in shifting sand

Giving me support and protection

He looks over me

He keeps me safe and makes my feet secure

Yes the Lord is my Rock.

 

The song,

The song of the lord is life

His song I sing is the greatest song on earth

It tells me of his love

He gives the music

He gives the words

Yes the Lord is my song.

 

One thing I long

I long to see his face

I long to know his story

I long to dwell with him

In glory.

 

Teach me,

Teach me Oh Lord

Teach me your way

Lead me on the straight and narrow

The path that leads to life

The path my enemies cannot tread

Yes the Lord is my path.

 

I see,

I see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living

I wait on the Lord of light

 

One thing I longed for

His face

His glory

In the giving of his life

Is his story.

 

By Jim Wenman

 

3 NEW TESTAMENT INSIGHT QUESTIONS

  1. Read 1 John 1: 5 – 7, According to John in this passage what does it mean to live in the light of God?
  1. Read 1 Cor. 6: 19 – 20, According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, what is God’s temple on earth today and how should we live according to this teaching?
  1. At the end of Psalm 27, David calls us all to, “Wait for the Lord”, which could also be seen as being patient as we wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ or for our passing from this life into the next. What advise does Paul give us in 2 Cor. 4 : 16 – 18 on waiting and being patient in this life?

TWO APPLICATION QUESTIONS 

  1. How does a Christian deal with fear according to Psalm 27?

2.  When we pray and seem to not get an answer or when we suffer and seem to have no end to it, what    should we realise according to Psalm 27 and all other verses of scripture we have looked at?

 

PRAYER:

 Dear Lord we thank you for your light shone down on us in the coming of your Son to this world. We thank you for the confidence we can have in Christ because we know he died for us and saved us from our sins and made a way for us to heaven. When we fear anything in future help us to remember your great light in our life and help us to remain faithful to you as we patiently wait for your Sons return. In Jesus name I pray this, Amen.

 

Jim Wenman

 

 

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