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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 27

Verses 1-3


Psalm 27 is connected to the previous psalm by its desire for the dwelling place of God (Psalms 26:8; Psalms 27:6). We hear here the desire of the believer who has confessed his sins (Psalm 25) and goes in integrity about the altar (Psalm 26) to dwell in the house of the LORD.

In Psalm 24 the question is raised: Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Psalm 25 speaks of longing for the LORD and Psalm 26 speaks of loving the house of the LORD. Psalm 27 speaks of staying in the house of the LORD where you may tell Him everything. You may spread there, like Hezekiah, as it were, the threatening letters before the LORD (Isaiah 37:14).

The psalmist, who is a type of the faithful remnant of Israel, has put his trust in the LORD in the past and He has not ashamed that trust (Psalms 27:2). Now that danger threatens again (Psalms 27:3) – prophetically the king of the north, of whom Daniel and Isaiah speak at length – the psalmist, like Hezekiah in Isaiah 38, decides to persevere and put his trust in the LORD (cf. Mark 9:24).

The psalmist, or the faithful remnant, desires not only to stand in God’s presence to serve Him, but to dwell with Him and to meditate. To meditate indicates that there is a desire to know Him better, Who He is, Who worked the great redemption, how beautiful He is.

This psalm is read by the Jews every day between the Feast of Booths and the Day of atonement, ten days during which the Jews humble themselves before God. Humiliation is a condition to draw near to God (Isaiah 66:2).

The psalm can be divided as follows:
1. Confidence (Psalms 27:1-Leviticus :).
2. Request (Psalms 27:4-2 Kings :).
3. Renewed confidence (Psalms 27:13-2 Chronicles :).

Strong in the LORD

For “[a Psalm] of David” (Psalms 27:1) see at Psalm 3:1.

David begins this psalm by expressing his confidence in the LORD Himself (Psalms 27:1). He does so in view of his enemies, for he speaks of “fear” and “dread”. He fears no one, not because the LORD gives him light and salvation, but because the LORD is his “light” and his “salvation” (cf. Micah 7:8).

He needs light because darkness is all around him. Darkness here means without the LORD’s guidance and safekeeping, without the pillar of fire. By “light” we may think of the pillar of fire in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-Song of Solomon :; Nehemiah 9:12; Nehemiah 9:19). Connected to this is what the Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). And in Psalms, light is connected with truth (Psalms 43:3) and joy (Psalms 97:11) and is needed for salvation (Psalms 18:27-Hosea :).

He needs salvation because he is in need. He feels his own weakness and also sees the strength of the enemy. Salvation means that the Lord helps him through it, He cares for him day by day (Psalms 68:19), so that even though he is weak or even though the enemy is strong, he will arrive safely. Therefore, not darkness and distress control his thinking, but the LORD. The same is true of the “defense of my life”. In Hebrew, “defense of my life” literally means “the fortress of my life” (cf. Psalms 18:2; Psalms 28:7).

He has no strength in himself to resist the adversaries and stay alive. The power of evil is a reality; he does not close his eyes to it. Yet this does not paralyze him because he does not compare the evil with his own strength, but with the strength of God who protects his life. He views evil from the presence of God and then he has peace and is without fear amidst evil (cf. Romans 8:35-Malachi :).

He recalls a situation when evildoers came upon him (Psalms 27:2). These people wanted to devour his flesh, indicating that they came at him like wild, tearful animals. They were his “adversaries” and his “enemies”. Adversaries are men of his own people (cf. Psalms 27:12), enemies come from outside the people.

Then he saw how they themselves “stumbled and fell”. That is how God helped then. That is why there is no fear in his heart now, even if a host should encamp against him and a war should arise against him (Psalms 27:3). We have an example of this in Isaiah 36-37. He simply trusts in the LORD. In whom else?

His trust concerns the present (Psalms 27:1), the past (Psalms 27:2) and the future (Psalms 27:3; cf. Hebrews 13:8). This trust is put to the test (Psalms 27:4-2 Kings :) and not ashamed, but strengthened and renewed (Psalms 27:13-2 Chronicles :).

Prophetically, it is about the time of the great tribulation, when adversaries within their own people – the antichrist and his followers, that is, the unbelieving mass of the people – oppress the believing remnant. The enemies from outside the people (the Assyrians) will besiege the faithful remnant at the end of the great tribulation and make war on them. They will be robbed of all light. But then they look up and see the LORD there. He gives light, yes, He is light (see Psalms 27:1), in that dark period. The immediate consequence is that He is also their salvation. He will cause them to arrive safely in the realm of peace.

These verses are particularly applicable to the unshakable confidence of the Lord Jesus when He is taken captive to be condemned and crucified. When they come to take Him captive, He says: “This hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:53). But God is His light. God is also His salvation, for He knows that God will save Him from death (Hebrews 5:7). He goes to the crowd that comes to take Him captive without fear and without anxiety. When He calls His Name, “I am” or I am the LORD, the I AM WHO I AM, they fall down (John 18:6; Exodus 3:14).

Verses 4-6

God’s Dwelling Place

Fear (Psalms 27:3) can be paralyzing. We see this with Peter in the storm (Matthew 14:30). The answer is “one thing” (Psalms 27:4) and that is: to abide with the Lord with resolute heart (Acts 11:23). Although the danger is great, as the second half of the psalm shows, the psalmist does not begin, as in some other psalms, with a cry for help, but with a song of praise of confidence (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:21-Song of Solomon :; Acts 16:22-Lamentations :).

David has come to know the LORD as his light and salvation through his deliverance from his evildoers (Psalms 27:1-Leviticus :). This does not cause him to enjoy his rest now, but it works in him a desire and an activity. He strongly desires to dwell with the LORD and to behold His beauty and to meditate it in His temple. “Behold” means that he longs for God Himself; “meditate” means that he longs for the knowledge of God’s will. His stay in the temple is also his greatest security against the enemies who seek his downfall.

This is the only thing, “one thing”, that he desires, and that for “all the days of my life” (cf. Psalms 23:6). This is the “exclusiveness” of faith. It excludes everything else. Everything else is seen as loss and rubbish (cf. Philippians 3:8). Only this “one thing” is important.

Many believers are not satisfied with ‘one thing’. They think that is too narrow-minded. You have to look more broadly; after all, there is more to enjoy. But what is there to enjoy apart from the beauty of God, His greatness and all His gracious qualities that we experience more and more as we live with Him? What believer does not want more and more of that?

However, as soon as we add something besides Christ to give our attention to, we are no longer satisfied with ‘one thing’. ‘One thing’ excludes everything else. The choice is not difficult if we consider that this ‘one thing’ also gives perfect satisfaction to life. Everything we add decreases that satisfaction..

There are more stories that show us the importance of “one thing”. The Lord Jesus says of Mary that by sitting at His feet she has done “one thing” that is necessary and that she has thus chosen the good part (Luke 10:39; Luke 10:42). The blind-born, when he has become seeing, knows “one thing” (John 9:25); the rich young man lacks “one thing” (Luke 18:22; Mark 10:21); there is only “one thing” that Paul does (Philippians 3:14).

The sanctuary is a shelter in which God causes the believer to take refuge and protect him “in the day of trouble” (Psalms 27:5). The word “for” explains why he does not ask for judgment on his enemies. He could do that, but new enemies will present themselves. Much rather he is in the shelter of God which provides security against all present and future enemies.

David calls the sanctuary “His tabernacle” or “His shelter”. It is a simple hut of four posts with a roof of leaves, in which one who works in the fields can seek protection from the heat of the sun (Isaiah 4:6). It is also a place where God hides him “in the secret place of His tent”. This is the private part of the tent. It indicates that the place of safety is also a place of personal intimacy with God, where no one else is present. Finally, David says that God lifts him up “on a rock”. No enemy can reach that place or cause it to waver.

We also find this aspect with the faithful remnant of Israel in the end times. They will find refuge from evil with Christ. For this He will bring them to a safe place and there provide for them and supply them with what they need (cf. Revelation 12:13-2 Chronicles :).

Because of the safety and security, David can lift up his head above his enemies who surround him (Psalms 27:6). ‘Lifting up his head’ is metaphor for ‘gaining victory’ (cf. Psalms 3:3; Psalms 110:7). The enemies may surround him, but he is with his God and therefore above them. They cannot do anything to him, they cannot get to him, no matter how they roar and rage.

Next, David no longer looks to them, but to God. He expresses his confidence in full deliverance by saying that he will offer sacrifices of praise and thanks in God’s tent, the tabernacle. He will do so “with shouts of joy”. The place of concealment becomes a place of loud, open praise. From the fullness of his heart he sings, yes, sings psalms to the LORD.

Verses 7-10

Seeking God’s Face

Psalms 27:7-2 Kings : are an elaboration of Psalms 27:4. It alternates between prayer (Psalms 27:7; Psalms 27:9Psalms 27:11) and the reasons for prayer (Psalms 27:8; Psalms 27:10Psalms 27:12). In Psalms 27:7-2 Samuel : we hear the believer crying out to God for help and waiting for that help to come. The confession of trust in faith of Psalms 27:1-Joshua : is now severely tested. Faith shines, but the test must prove whether it is real gold or fake gold.

The conviction that the LORD helps does not make prayer for help unnecessary. On the contrary, the need for it will be felt all the more. He also knows God as a God Who is angry over sin and therefore appeals to His grace (Psalms 27:7). He knows that an answer cannot be given on the basis of any merit of his own, but only on the basis of God’s grace. He begs for an answer.

God’s command to seek His face resonates in the heart of the believer (Psalms 27:8; Psalms 24:6; cf. Deuteronomy 4:29). It is, so to speak, a ‘commandment of grace’ to do so. At the same time, it is also a privilege to be allowed to do it. David seeks God’s face and asks if God will not hide His face from him (Psalms 27:9). He takes into account that God could reject him in anger, because he realizes that he is unworthy because there have been things in his life about which God is angry. He calls himself “Your servant”, which gives emphasis to his humble attitude toward God.

He also reminds God that He has been his help in the past. Surely then God will not abandon him and forsake him, will He? We hear in his addressing God with the words “O God of my salvation” how intensely he calls upon God and appeals to His salvation.

The dearest earthly relations of care are finite (Psalms 27:10; cf. Isaiah 49:15). They cannot provide the guarantee of unwavering and lasting reliability. David’s parents did not literally leave him, for he himself left them and later took them to the king of Moab (1 Samuel 22:3-Numbers :). Forsaken here has the meaning of ‘not being able to help’. If father and mother cannot be appealed to, God’s faithfulness remains. He guarantees to accept anyone who expects his salvation from Him. Take me up here means to lift up a child to help or comfort him (cf. Exodus 19:4).

Verses 11-12

The Enemies

David asks that God would teach him His way, that is, that He would instruct him in His commandments (Psalms 27:11). Connected to this, he asks if God will lead him “in a level path”, that is, a path on which there is no danger of stumbling because the hindrances have been taken away (cf. Psalms 26:12). He knows that he is only walking the right path when God leads him. The way of faith is a paved path for those who live according to God’s Word. David asks this because the enemies, his assailants, are lurking on him to see if he deviates from the way, God’s way, God’s commandments, in order to then attack him.

The pressure of the enemies is great (Psalms 27:12). David knows the desire of his adversaries. They are the “false witnesses” who have risen up against him and accuse him of all kinds of evil. They “breathe out violence”, meaning they want to violently kill him. We recognize this in the trial of the Lord Jesus. False witnesses rose up against Him. They were deliberately sought by the accusers (Matthew 26:59).

Verses 13-14

Wait for the LORD

David’s faith has been tested (Psalms 27:7-2 Kings :), it has been purified, and it turns out to be gold. Psalms 27:13 follows this up with a renewed confession of faith. He cannot imagine what would have become of him if he had not put his trust in the goodness of the LORD.

He knows that only “the goodness of the LORD” has kept him “in the land of the living” (Psalms 27:13; cf. Psalms 52:5; Isaiah 38:11). If he had not believed that, then, yes, what? He does not complete his sentence. The words in brackets indicate that these words do not appear in the root text. It may well be intended to say that otherwise he “would have despaired”, but this interpretation takes away something of the power of faith in the goodness of the LORD on which all emphasis is placed. It is only due to his faith that he is still alive. It demonstrates that trust in faith will never be ashamed.

Here, prophetically, we listen to the faith of the remnant in the end times. During the judgments that come on the land, their confidence remains unshaken. It seems that they are in the land of death, but it is the land of the living. There is trust and therefore patience.

Therefore, the believer can wait for God in all times in the assurance that He will strengthen his heart (Psalms 27:14). Now that the psalmist has experienced that his trust in faith has not been ashamed, he can exhort others to do the same as him.

It seems that David is saying this to himself, exhorting himself with this. The exhortation to wait for God is made twice in this one verse making the exhortation all the more urgent. It is an encouragement to have a powerful trust in God, to be strong in Him. Then in response He will strengthen his heart, give it the peace and assurance that He will help.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 27". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.