Bible Commentaries
Psalms 27

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


A Psalm of David.

The psalm properly consists of two divisions. The first, (Psalms 27:1-6,) is the language of triumph, praise, and pious longing for the house of God, of which the key note is “Jehovah is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” the second, (Psalms 27:7-14,) a plaintive prayer from the midst of enemies and perils. The circumstances at Mahanaim, after the battle and before the formal submission of the disaffected tribes, (2 Samuel 18:19,) sufficiently account for this diversity, and the sudden transition at Psalms 27:7. The psalm is unquestionably David’s, according to the title and internal evidence, but the addition in the title by the Septuagint, followed by the Vulgate, of the words, “before he was anointed,” is without meaning and unsustained by history.

Verse 1

1. Light… salvation… strength “The triple shield against sundry terrors, as sufficient to ward them off.” Calvin.

Verse 2

2. To eat up my flesh An image borrowed from the habits of beasts of prey. Job 19:22.

They stumbled and fell An evident recognition of a great victory over his enemies. See 2 Samuel 18:0. Instead of devouring him, they themselves fell.

Verse 3

3. Though a host See Psalms 3:6, on same occasion.

In this will I be confident In spite of this, or for all this, I will trust. These first three verses are an outbreathing of the courage of faith.

Verse 4

4. One thing have I desired One thing, as being the chief and ultimate good the comprehensive unity in which all things else are included.

House of the Lord The house or place of worship was now a tent, although it is, in this and the following verses, called house, temple, and tent.

All the days of my life This is not to be taken literally, but as of spirit and fellowship, and as a constant habit of sanctuary worship.

To behold the beauty of the Lord “Beauty,” here, has the sense of grace, excellence, especially redeeming grace. See Psalms 90:17. The sense is the same as Psalms 63:2: “As I have seen thee in the sanctuary” a spiritual discernment of God in his manifold grace to man. The original is peculiar. Construing the verb with the preposition ב , ( be,) it means to look upon, or into, the “beauty” or grace of Jehovah. The meditation on the moral import of the forms and symbols of the sanctuary and of sanctuary worship is not to be excluded. See in Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:2; Hebrews 11:23-24. These led him up to God. He saw and communed with God through them.

Inquire in his temple That is, to seek the knowledge of God only through the forms and methods which he has ordained, namely, by sacrifice, prayer, and asking counsel of the priest or prophet. See Deuteronomy 17:8-10

Verse 5

5. Pavilion The word means a covering, a tent, same as tabernacle in next line.

Secret of his tabernacle The covert, or hidingplace of his tent. The sacred tabernacle alone was God’s provided refuge for souls, and its inmost apartment, the “holy of holies,” the hidingplace of his tent, called Psalms 31:20, the “secret of thy presence.” The place of the divine presence was his refuge in trouble. The historic basis of the metaphor is found in the form of Oriental tents and encampments, where the emir has his tent in the centre of the camp, and the inner apartment of the tent reserved for himself. This was the place of honour and greatest safety. See on Psalms 61:4; Psalms 31:20. On the plan of encampment, see 1 Samuel 26:5; 1 Samuel 26:7; 1 Samuel 17:20; where “trench” means a rampart of military carriages.

Verse 6

6. Now shall mine head be lifted up His faith sees the coming exaltation and restoration to his throne.

In his tabernacle His acknowledgments for deliverance should not be private merely, but in the most public manner.

Sacrifices of joy Sacrifices of jubilation, or shouting, are such as were witnessed on the great occasions of their annual feasts, with full choirs of singers and bands of instruments.

Verse 8

8. The psalm here suddenly turns to a prayer for mercy. See the introduction.

Seek ye my face The voice of God inviting David to freely seek the divine favour and help. The first act of grace to every man is a call to seek God.

Thy face, Lord, will I seek A beautiful illustration of prevenient grace, and of the following of the obedient soul, is here given.

Verse 9

9. The petitions and deprecations of this verse seem urged by a conscious dread of judgment now possible in view of past sin, and may have a silent pointing back to the one great offence of David’s life, recorded 2 Samuel 11:0

Verse 10

10. When my father… mother forsake me The extremest case of abandonment is supposed, in order the more forcibly to illustrate the faithfulness of God. To such a one no human friends could be expected to remain. See Isaiah 49:15; Psalms 103:13.

Take me up Literally, gather me, as a parent gathers or takes in his arms and to his home the child that is in danger. See the sense in Deuteronomy 22:2: “Thou shalt bring it unto thine own house.” Isaiah 57:1: “The righteous is taken away” preserved, rescued.

Verse 11

11. A plain path This even or straight path is the Lord’s “way,” as in the preceding member of the verse. See Psalms 26:12. In it there are no dangers. Isaiah 35:8.

Because of mine enemies Who watch all my steps for evil.

Verse 13

13. Unless I had believed Faith in God saved him, and this is the testimony of every godly man in affliction. The original is abrupt and emphatic, omitting the consequence (by aposiopesis) that had followed had he not trusted in God, to be supplied by the imagination. Our English text supplies the omission by the words “I had fainted,” but, as “the land of the living” is the place where he had believed to see the goodness of the Lord, and as this is to be contrasted with sheol, or the place of the dead, we should rather read “ I had perished, unless I had believed,” etc.

Verse 14

14. Wait on the Lord “Wait,” which is twice repeated for emphasis, has the sense of expect, hope, and hence to be ready for, and answers well to the New Testament word “watch,” (Matthew 24:42;) or, as Peter says, “ Hope to the end for the grace.” 1 Peter 1:13.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.