John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Lord is the Antidote of Fear--Psalm 27

The superscription of Psalm 27 says only: "Of [To, For] David," and thus gives no information about the situation lying behind this psalm. The psalm itself makes clear that the psalmist is faced with malicious enemies who utter slanders against him and bear false witness against him. Worse than this, his father and mother have abandoned him either because they believe his enemies' slander and false witness or they are unwilling to stand against people who seem to have power and influence in the community. In spite of all this, the psalmist boldly remains confident in Yahweh and rejoices in this. Psalm 27 falls into two parts. In the first section, the psalmist speaks ABOUT Yahweh in the third person; in the second section, he addresses Yahweh directly in the second person.

I. The poet is confident in Yahweh. Psalm 27:1-6.
    a. The composer begins by declaring that Yahweh is his light, his salvation, and the stronghold of his life. Thus, he is not afraid of any people or situations which confront him. This thought recalls Psalm 118:6, which the author of Hebrews quotes in Hebrews 13:6 and applies to Christians experiencing similar circumstances. 27:1.
   b. The poet continues, saying that when his enemies attack him to devour his flesh, they will stumble and fall. "Devour the flesh" is apparently an idiom meaning "utter slanders against another person," as indicated by Daniel 3:8; 6:24. 27:2.
   c. The speaker's enemies are like an army encamped against him to go to war against him, but he is not afraid because Yahweh is faithfully with him. 27:3.
   d. The psalmist's one desire in life is to live in the house of the Lord throughout his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. The beauty of the Lord in this context may refer to the ark of the covenant, and to inquire of the Lord probably means that the worshipper used the Urim and the Thummim of the ephod, which apparently were stones or pieces of wood cast as lots to determine whether the answer of the Lord to a particular question was Yes or No, as suggested by texts like 1 Samuel 14:41-42; 23:9-12; 28:6, or that he asked a prophet to reveal Yahweh's will or that he used dreams to determine it (see 1 Samuel 28:6; 1 Kings 3:5, 15).  27:4.
   e. The poet is confident that Yahweh will shelter him in the day of trouble, conceal him under the cover of his tent, or set him high on a rock safe from the threat of enemies. 27:5.
   f. Because of this, the psalmist declares that his head is lifted up to stand secure in the presence of Yahweh (see Genesis 40:12; Psalm 3:3) above all his enemies around. Now he will go to the Jerusalem sanctuary and offer sacrifices to Yahweh with shouts of joy. He will sing with his voice and make melody with musical instruments to Yahweh. 27:6.

II. The composer prays confidently that Yahweh will answer his prayer. Psalm 27:7-14.
     a. The psalmist begins by beseeches Yahweh to answer his prayer for help and protection. He implores Yahweh to be gracious to him. He seeks Yahweh's face, his presence, and begs him not to hide his face from him. He addresses Yahweh as "the God of my salvation," and beseeches him not to turn him away in anger or cast him off or forsake him. 27:7-9.
     b. Apparently, the poet's parents have forsaken him for some reason, but he is confident that Yahweh will take him up and support and protect him in this situation. 27:10.
     c. Since his enemies are strong and threatening, the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to teach him Yahweh's way and lead him on a level path. His enemies have brought false witnesses against him, and are breathing out violence. Thus, he implores Yahweh not to give him up to the will of his enemies. 27:11-12.
     d. Finally, the psalmist addresses one of his comrades [in the singular].  He announces that he believes he shall see the goodness of Yahweh, and encourage his comrade to "wait for" [that is, trust in] Yahweh, to be strong and let his heart take courage in light of these present difficult circumstances. 27:13-14.

Share YOUR experiences and fears and encouragements and reversals and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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