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Psalm 27:
Preaching God’s Truth
to Ourselves

I always thought that King David proclaimed Psalm 27 in a triumphant, resolute sort of way; showcasing his immense confidence in God. In my mind, I pictured him to be the same fearless man who stood toe-to-toe with gargantuan Goliath, anchored by an impeccable trust in God’s salvation for him. Just look at the verses below:

1 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?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.”

Yet, as I ruminated on Psalm 27, that mental picture could not have been further from the truth. In this Psalm, David was literally praying for his life.

We are not sure of the exact historical context but Charles Spurgeon surmised that it may have been from a time when David was on the run from King Saul – pursued by enemies, shut out from the house of the Lord and slandered by false witnesses. No matter what the situation, it was clearly a time of incredible crisis and stress, and David finds himself praying for his life. Psalm 27 was David’s expression of God’s presence and protection in the most difficult and dangerous season of life. Amidst the many lessons that I gleaned, two stood out most prominently for me:

David focused on what he knew about God, not how he felt in his current situation

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” (Ps 27:13) Verse 13 was the linchpin that helped me understand the passage and David’s heart in this Psalm. This verse was written in the future tense (“shall look upon”), i.e… David proclaimed of the goodness of God even though he had not yet fully experienced it in the present moment. In addition, he might even have felt that his present existence was one led in the “land of the dead”! (as a contrast to the future ‘land of the living’). David’s enemies were still pursuing him. Sorrow and heartache did not vanish. He might not even have felt close to God. Yet God was still good, and David knew he would one day see that goodness again – that was what he chose to preach to himself and he preached this to himself time and time again. We see a similar expression in his most famous psalm – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

David preached God’s truth to himself time and time again

David’s fight was not merely against the literal enemies that surrounded him but against the downcast spirit that threatened to overcome his faith as well. He “fought” by preaching to himself about God and his promised future.  “Whom shall fear?”, “I will be confident”, “He will lift me high”, “I will sing”, etc. Despite the brokenness of our world, God still shows His goodness to us daily – we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see it, to help us sing of it. The final verse of the hymn This is my Father’s World is one that I regularly sing, to remind myself of this; may its lyrics encourage our hearts too. 

“This is my Father’s world​
O let me ne’er forget​
That though the wrong seems of so strong​
God is the Ruler yet”​

By Pastor Adrian Ow​