Darkness & Light – Advent 2018 – Psalm 27

John Carter – December 2017


Of David.

27           The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

             When evildoers assail me

to eat up my flesh,

my adversaries and foes,

it is they who stumble and fall.

             Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war arise against me,

yet I will be confident.

             One thing have I asked 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 gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

and to inquire in his temple.

             For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will lift me high upon a rock.

             And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

             Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;

be gracious to me and answer me!

             You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you,

“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

             Hide not your face from me.

Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.

Cast me not off; forsake me not,

O God of my salvation!

10             For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

but the LORD will take me in.

11             Teach me your way, O LORD,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

12             Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they breathe out violence.

13             I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living!

14             Wait for the LORD;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the LORD!


In week one of our advent celebration, we discovered about the God who created light and dark. The God who is both revealed and concealed. The God who has revealed himself to us so that we might know him and worship him. Now we move into week two of our celebration to find discover that this God who created light is also a light those who call him, salvation.

Genesis 1 tells us the story of creation. The way by which God chose to organize and align every part of our world. Genesis 3 recounts to us the way in which Adam and Eve broke the good creation and left us with an insurmountable mess to deal with. They left us stained with the effects left by sin. At the creation Adam and Eve chose to sin, they chose to act in rebellion against the living God. Therefore God chose to curse his creation. And because God is gracious he chose to withhold our due punishment of death. Some might argue that there is nothing gracious about being left in this sinful world full of broken structure and evil people. But that is a misunderstanding of God’s grace. His grace was not in leaving us in a broken state. His grace was not condemning us to death immediately and instead promising a way of restoration. A passage where evil men, women, and children can be restored to a relationship with God that isn’t tainted by sin. This mixture of filth and hope, of sin and grace, can be seen in Psalm 27. A Psalm where David wrestles with what it is like to live in brokenness yet still cling to the only true light and salvation of the world.

Verses 1-3 – Where is Your Confidence Placed?

            This Psalm lays out for us in prose an idea that we can conclude from our first Advent sermon. Whether in times of darkness or in times of light we have no one to fear because YHWH, our salvation, is there. But this kind of trust in YHWH requires waiting. Consider the Psalmist, his trust was in YHWH even though his situation was one of pain and suffering. Trust in YHWH does not remove all forms of difficulty. Rather we trust YHWH in the midst of difficulty. Consider Jesus, his confidence was in the Father, but that confidence did not eliminate his journey to the cross of death and shame.

In a foreshadowing of Jesus[1], David resolves to place his trust in YHWH. Even when he is surrounded by those who strike fear in even the most resilient of heart, David will not fear. David declares that he will trust and fear YHWH alone. David will not fear flesh eating evildoers. Or any number of adversaries or foes. Or in any army. Or in any war waged against him. We may not have any nations coming against us, but we certainly have enemies. We have political enemies; those who seek to engage in unethical and immoral actions. We have neighbors who are enemies; those who we see every day and hate us. Possible for reasons we deserve, but perhaps not. We have co-workers that are our enemies. They make it their job to point out our every flaw and error; no matter how large or small. We even have our last enemy, death (1 Corinthians 15:26). And what do all of these enemies have in common? They are each opposed to the Gospel in various ways. They each revile the truth of God’s love and judgment. They each refuse to submit to God grace and mercy. When we are about to give up, they are just getting started.

This is why we have to ask ourselves, where is my confidence? Without confidence, there is no resolve. There is no commitment to faithful obedience to Jesus the Christ. Consider for a moment, you decide who you are going to be prior to a life-defining moment. It is not the life-defining moment that defines who you are. The life-defining moment only demonstrates who you have resolved to be prior to the moment of decision. This is not a motivational statement. This is an integrity check. What have you determined in your heart to do despite the worst of circumstances? When the battle for faithful obedience to your light and your salvation is at it’ fiercest what will you do? The psalm remains confident. Why? Because of who his light and salvation is.

Verses 4-6 – What is Your Greatest Desire?

            The greater you value someone the greater you trust him or her. David demonstrates to us the depth of his value and therefore confidence in these few verses. His value of YHWH is demonstrated in his singular desire to simply be in the presence of YHWH. An idea he wraps poetically in temple language. This building that we meet in, is not the house of YHWH. It may be a place that we have dedicated and set aside for the glory and worship of God. But we should not confuse it with the house of YHWH that is being spoken of here in the text. God does not and never will dwell here like he did in the tabernacle and the temple. However, God does and will dwell in a unique manner among his people, his church (Matthew 18:20; Revelation 21:22). You are not closer to God in proximity to this building. Rather, you are closer to God in proximity to his people.

Which cause me ask, why do you come to be with Gods people? Are you primarily here for an emotional fill-up? Or are you here for the very need of life? Do you come totally stoked that you get to sing praises to God? Does it cause your heart to warm at the thought that you will get to hear the word of God proclaimed and that you will be able to gaze upon the beauty of YHWH? Does the thought of Jesus satisfy you while leaving you longing for more of him and causing you to burst out in ecstatic loud, and joyfully praising? Does your life break into song at the thought of who God is? Or are you waiting for a new theatrical trick? Or rhetorical quip? Maybe a joke or some emotional story? Or maybe you just want to sing a song that you would prefer to sing?

We probably find it easy to seek God in the day of trouble. Who doesn’t want to be concealed and lifted up in the day of evil? Who in their right mind truly understands that the day of the Lord is a day of darkness (Amos 5:20) and still desires not to be protected? But, What is your greatest request of YHWH? If you only had one request what would it be? Would the new heavens and the new earth still capture your joy if it contained only God? Is God enough for you or do you need more? Based on verses 4-6 it seems clear to David that if you need more, then you have a small view of God.

Listen to what David view of God cause him to do. He asks, he seeks YHWH. He desires to dwell in God house so that he can gaze upon, and inquire of YHWH. Further, he hopes to offer sacrifices, to sing, and to make melody. The house of YHWH can be referred to as a temple, a rent, a shelter or even a covering. It’s a place of longevity (it isn’t going where anytime soon), a place of beauty. Ultimately it is a place of worship.

Verses 7-12 – Do you Seek His Face?

  • 11 – Being on a level path in spite of enemies, not in absence. This is asking for consistency in the midst of adversity, not peace in the absence of difficulty.
  • Jesus came to divide families. Doctrine divides. The gospel divides. God cause division
  • COMMAND: Seek my (YHWH’s) face (presence/audience).
  • Don’t do what my mother and father have done
  • My parents don’t buy my food and clothes anymore. They stopped some time ago. Do they not realize who I am? I am their son! How dare they abandon my needs. This is in jest. But what about those who truly have been abandoned by their parents? It is no wonder that true fasting involves consideration of the widow and the orphan, or the true religion cares for the fatherless.
  • Consider the weight of David’s words here. My parents may have failed me at singular moments over the years, but they have never abandoned me. What context in life does one need to be in to be able to say, ‘my parents have forsaken me’?
  • Even though those who ought to never forsake us often fail us, God never fails.

Verses 13-14 – I Will Wait

  • Death will not (cannot) overcome the goodness of YHWH
  • Theme of ‘be strong’ and ‘be courageous’
  • Our strength and courage come not from an internal source, but from an external source. Our strength is not in good feelings and good vibes, and good thoughts. Our strength is not derived from our environment or our social networks. Our strength is derived solely and sufficiently from God our savior. Our light.
  • EXHORTATION: Wait for YHWH x2, be strong and take courage
  • Our strength comes from YHWH. He is our source of hope. Our object of faith. And our only salvation.

[1] All psalms should be read with a sense of Jesus first. Not me first. In other words, how does this psalm point to Jesus first?