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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Psalms 27

Verses 1-14

In Psalms 27:0 we have the saint’s desire. What is it that the child of God desires above everything else? Is it not fellowship with the One who has redeemed him? And so here you have David exclaiming, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” Let the enemy rage as he will; I will confide in God. “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” In what? That above everything else I have desired fellowship with Thee! “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” What is that one thing? Fellowship with God. “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” What does he mean by “the beauty of the Lord”? It is His moral beauty. We have never seen the face of the Lord. We have never looked upon His countenance, and yet we have seen His beauty because we have realized, as we have studied the Word, His moral and spiritual perfection.

Many years ago, on a car one day, a number of high school girls were laughing and chatting. A woman with a heavy veil over her face boarded the car, and as she got on the wind blew the veil aside and one could see that she had a terribly scarred face; it had evidently been badly burned. It looked horrible and one of these girls exclaimed, “Oh, look at that fright!” Another of the girls seeing who it was about whom they were speaking wheeled around and turned to the other in flaming anger and said, “How dare you speak of my beautiful mother in that way?”

“Oh, I am so sorry, I didn’t think what I was saying. I did not mean to say anything unkind of your mother; I did not know it was your mother.”

“Yes, it is,” the other replied, “and her face is the most beautiful thing about her to me. Mother left me in my little crib when a small child and went to a store to get some- thing. When she came back the house was on fire, and my mother fought her way through the fire and flames and wrapped me all up so that the flames could not reach me; but when she got outside again she fell down burned terribly, but I was safe. And whenever I look at her I think what a beautiful mother I have.”

They say beauty is only skin deep. Moral beauty goes to the depths of the soul, and when David says that he wants to dwell in the house of the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord, he means, I want to be taken up with the holiness and the love and the grace and the compassion of the Lord.

“In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock.” Notice the different figures he uses. The foe all about but David is hidden in God’s pavilion, in the innermost part of the tabernacle. The secret place would be the holiest of all. And then, “He shall set me up upon a rock”; and we know that the rock is Christ. “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.” And now notice the heart’s exercise, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” What did you say when He said, “Seek ye My face”? Did you reply, “Some other time, Lord; I have too much to do now; I have my business, I have the housework to do and cannot bother with the Word now; some other time”? But David says, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” As much as to say, Lord, I am so thankful that Thou desirest me to come into Thy presence. I am delighted to come; “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

“Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” When the dearest ones on earth forsake me then the Lord will care for me. And so he continues to pray, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” Do you not see how this Psalm might be applied to the Lord Jesus Himself when He was here on earth? He could have taken these words on His lips, He could say to the Father, “When Thou saidst, Seek Ye My face; My heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” And when before Caiaphas, He could have said, “False witnesses are risen up against Me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” And He left “us an example, that ye [we] should follow His steps.”

The Psalm closes with these words, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” God does not always do for us immediately what we ask. We are not only to wait on the Lord but also to wait for the Lord. Wait His own time. But now notice that thirteenth verse, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The words, “I had fainted” are in italics. There is nothing in the original to answer to them. But, you say, you would not have a complete sentence without them; you could not say, “Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” No, you could not have a declarative sentence, but you might have an exclamatory sentence like this, “Oh, if I had not believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” What a tragedy it would have been if I had not believed, what a terrible blunder I would have made if I had not believed in these difficult days! I have had numbers of Christian businessmen say to me, “Oh, my brother, if it had not been for my confidence in the Lord, when my business went to pieces and when the savings of the years were swept away, I would have been like those other people who went to one of these high buildings and jumped off.” That is what David is saying, Oh, the tragedy if I had not known the Lord! But my soul was at peace and I could wait upon Him.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 27". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.