After starting Psalm 27 with a reminder that God is all-powerful (in verse 2-3), David wrote from the knowledge that God was with him (or perhaps that David was with God). God clearly had the ability to rescue David from any army that lined up against him: whether another force was attacking David as an individual, chasing David’s band of “mighty men”, or going to war against the entire people of Israel. In fact [per Tesh & Zorn, p.232-233], note that these aren’t the words of someone who had never seen God at work. Instead, they are written from the confidence of someone (David) who had seen God accomplish this sort of deliverance. God’s power wasn’t theoretical or just a matter of faith to David: His faithfulness was a matter of settled fact, from experience, to David.
Now, to be clear, God does not always deliver his people in the way that they want. Still, we must remember that, 1) God can deliver us from evil (see Matthew 6:13, for instance, from what we call the Lord’s Prayer) and, 2) He does deliver us when it is consistent with His will and His plan.
One of my favorite testimonies in the Bible comes from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel 3:16-18). These three men testified – in front of a hostile king, no less – to two key truths: 1) God could absolutely save them from the pagan king, and 2) even if He didn’t, they remained committed to God and would not bow down to an idol. While God could miraculously save us from every bodily threat, He doesn’t promise to do so, because there are larger considerations that He understands (better than we do). However, for what He does promise, like being able to spend eternity with Him if we accept His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and follow Him, we can bank on His faithfulness.
Let’s take a look at verses 4-5:
One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Psalms 27:4-5 NIV
David really, really seeks after God’s presence. We saw a similar phrase in Psalm 23, “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (from Psalm 23:6).
Do we seek to be in God’s presence with the same fervor and desire as various psalm-writers? Are we passionate about spending time with God? Is that what you look forward to – and make time for – every day?
I confess that I have been challenged to do a better job of that while studying the Psalms. I’m not yet to David’s level, but I’d like to think that I seek God and His word more than I did at the start of this series.
Don’t forget that God’s presence is not a future goal, where we have to wait until we pass on from this life to experience it. I do believe that there is some way in which we will experience the presence of God in eternity that is different from what we can appreciate here in our current state. However, God’s presence can be experienced in certain ways today, even by fallen human beings (like us) walking on a planet that is cursed because of our sin.
I do not think that David was looking to a future state (or only to the future) when He wrote these words. David could use something like the tabernacle or temple as a place to experience the presence of God. (I suspect that he also experienced God’s presence out in the wilderness, and probably elsewhere.) Our privilege, though, is captured in Jesus’ words to a Samaritan woman at a well, centuries later, as described in John 4:19-24. We can worship God and experience His presence anywhere! Do we appreciate that privilege nearly as much as David did?
To reiterate, do not wait until you pass on to the next life to look for God’s presence and an abundant life from Jesus Christ (ref. John 10:10). This world is far from being the perfect existence that we look forward to in eternity, but this world was still created good by God and He has not abandoned it. There is much to be found here, in this life, for those who seek Him. Keep an eye out for God’s presence and His work. It’s probably exactly where you expect it, but also in other places where you’ll be surprised!
From Sunday School lesson prepared for November 20, 2022
- The Lookout, November 20, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 1, S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, © 1999, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.