A Psalm of David
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? 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. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; 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. For 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. 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. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, 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. 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. 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.”
“The LORD Is My Light”
“Psalm 27…this 27th Psalm. No doubt, a troubled background, we hear about enemies, we hear being besieged, we hear about those who want to eat up his flesh, those that are slandering, ah, we hear all of those terms given to us throughout the Psalm. It’s interesting, the Septuagint translation, done 200 years before Christ, by 70 Hebrew scholars, the heading they put on the Psalm is that it was written before David was anointed king. Not before he was anointed by Samuel, but would have been before he was anointed in Hebron, and then several years later he was finally anointed in Jerusalem. So then these would be the years that he was fleeing from Saul. Some put 1st Samuel 22, the cave of Adullam, and chapter 23 as he goes through the difficulties with Keilah and the different areas, and he’s being pursued, as the background. Certainly, he’s younger, certainly, there’s great difficulty in the background, and as those things are true, he’s in his twenties when he writes this, he’s in his twenties. You know, he was 17-years-old when he killed the giant, when he killed Goliath, and was brought into Saul’s court. It would seem at this point that the Tabernacle is still at Shiloh, he hasn’t even pitched a tent, and it isn’t until 2nd Samuel 6 when he moves the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath Jearim up to Jerusalem. So this is early in his career, and you read these words and you think ‘These are the words of somebody in their twenties,’ you know, I think sometimes we forget, the apostles, except possibly Peter who seemed to be older, the apostles were all in their twenties in the Book of Acts when Jesus handed them the keys to the Kingdom. We would look at them and say they were a bunch of kids, they’re all in their twenties. I mean, John the apostle, somewhere around 90AD, writes the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. He was young in the Book of Acts, he was 17, 18-years-old. David is a young man, and the things that he takes hold of in this Psalm are remarkable. So never underestimate, you know, your son or your daughter, those that are around you that are younger. The future of the Church is in their hands, all the potential in the world, when they’re in contact with the Living God, is in their hands. And here David, remarkably, begins by saying, “The LORD is my light and my salvation;” he doesn’t say, ‘The LORD gives me light,’ please take note of what he says, ‘It’s the LORD himself is my light,’ “and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” (verse 1) it’s not ‘he gives strength,’ in fact, the Hebrew is “the LORD is the stronghold of my life, of whom” literally, “shall I be terrified?” Look, this is what David’s saying, he’s saying ‘That the LORD here is, to me, in my life, light, salvation, and he’s my stronghold.’ Some remarkable things. It’s the first time in the Bible that the metaphor of “light” is directly applied to the LORD. There are verses that speak of him in relationship to light, the LORD said “Let there be light.” You read of the LORD in relationship to light. But the first time in the Bible where it is specifically said that the LORD himself is light, Jesus would say ‘I am the light of the world,’ the first time it’s ascribed to him in metaphor, to his very nature, is in this Psalm, by this 20-some-year old, as the Holy Spirit is moving on his heart. He says, “The LORD is my light” and all the way through this verse 1, “my light” “my salvation” “my stronghold”, look, all of this has to be personal. This is not the position of Israel, this is not the position of the Jews, nor is this the position of church, he says, ‘No, he’s my light,’ this is a 20-some-year-old whose being pursued by a king with an army that wants to kill him. This is not about our struggles, ‘I got a flat tire again, God’s gotta give me strength,’ no, look, this is really stuff that’s cooking here. So whatever we go through in our life, however difficult it gets, it’s in the context of this. This is a young man, Samuel has anointed him, he believes that he’s within God’s will, and yet Saul hates him, Saul’s pursuing him with an army, he’s fleeing, he’s ended up in the cave of Adullam, and it says all of the discontents, all that are broken, all that are in debt in the land, are gathering to him. He’s had to take his mother and his father, to save their lives so that Saul wouldn’t kill them, and move them back to the land of Moab. Because his great, great grandma Ruth came from the land of Moab, and he has family there. And the king of Moab gives asylum to his mother and father, 1st Samuel chapter 22, verse 3, and that’s the last time we hear of his parents, we don’t know if they ever came out of Moab, we don’t ever hear of them again. And this young man, says ‘The LORD is my light.’ How often do we need light, we need to understand something, we need to see something? It just seems like the darkest day that we can imagine comes to us, and we need to lifted up out of it, we need to get our head above the clouds, ‘LORD, give me relief, LORD, give me this, ‘LORD, you are my light, if I can find you today, LORD, I have light, the LORD himself is my light, the LORD himself is my salvation.’ Do I deserve to be saved? No. Am I worthy of it? No. Is there anything in me that would cause it? No. ‘The LORD is my salvation, in himself, his name Yeshua, the Lord is become our salvation.’ And then he says, ‘And I don’t need to be afraid of anybody. If he’s my light, and he’s my salvation.’
“The LORD Is The Strength, Stronghold Of My Life”
And then he says ‘The LORD himself is’ he doesn’t give me refuge, ‘he is my stronghold.’ In fact he says “the stronghold” in the Hebrew “of my life.” If he’s the stronghold of my life, of whom should I be terrified? Listen, David knew this well, when you read through his history, it says ‘he was in the stronghold of the wilderness,’ that he was in the caves down in Engedi, that these were strongholds where he hid himself and he took shelter. Here he says, ‘The LORD himself, he is the stronghold of my life, he’s the one who gives me shelter, keeps me alive, not the geographical place that I’m in.’ You know, if you read the history of Martin Luther, you know, he was a Roman Catholic priest, and he practiced indulgences, he flagellated and he whipped himself, and he fasted, and did all these kinds of things trying to get closer to God, very legalistic, and then all of a sudden it dawned on him, ‘that the just shall live by faith.’ The Book of Romans, the Book of Galatians started to come alive to him, so he wrote his 99 thesis and he nailed it on the Wittenberg door on the cathedral, in Wittenberg, Germany, and of course the Catholic Church came after him, and he fled, and he ended up in Wurtberg in the castle, I’ve been there. And we see where he did his translations. And the prince there gave him shelter. And the Germans then protested [against the Catholic Church], because he was translating the Greek New Testament and then the Hebrew Old Testament into German, so they protested, that’s where the word Protestant came from. And Luther realized in those days, ‘Wait, do I need a prince, do I need these walls, do I need this to be safe?’ And he sat down and he wrote a “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, A Bulwark Never Failing.” And he left the walls of that castle and trusted, he realized, ‘No, God, you’re the One, you don’t have to have stone walls, you keep me alive.’ And David long before that, he says ‘LORD. you in fact are my light, you are my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid? You LORD are the stronghold of my life, you’re where I take refuge, it’s not a place, you’re where I flee to, you’re the protection around me. Of whom shall I be terrified?’
“Though An Host Should Encamp Against Me, My Heart Shall Not Fear”
In verse 2 then, he kind of in retrospect, he looks back at the past, so that in verse 3 then he can look to the future, and be assured of that. Again, it’s almost as though the children of Israel in 1st Samuel 6, where they set up the Ebenezer Stone, and say ‘Heretofore the LORD has been faithful to us.’ Or hitherto, the idea is, “to this point, so far.” And he does that remarkably here, he says “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” (verse 2) ‘When they planned to just destroy me, they stumbled and they fell.’ Why? Because ‘the LORD is my light, and he’s my salvation, and he’s the stronghold of my life.’ When he looks in the past, ‘LORD, you’ve been faithful, you’re all those things to me, when the wicked came, they tried to take my life, they’re the one’s who stumbled and fell.’ So then he looks to the future, and he says “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” (verse 4) ‘Though an host should encamp against me in the future, I’m not going to be afraid, because of all you are, because of all you’ve been, you’re going to be that in the future.’ “though war should rise against me” this is a great verse for us to take note of, because in the world that we live in, we have no guarantee that before we die we may not see war rise against us. He says, “though war should rise against me, in this” what he had said earlier in verse 1, and what kept him safe in verse 2 “will I be confident.” And there’s no, it’s in italics “will be” it’s just ‘in this I’m confident in what I’ve said,’ is the idea here. So, ‘This is what you are in my life, LORD, you’re light, you yourself are light, you yourself are salvation, you yourself are my stronghold, and LORD, you’ve proven that so far, in the difficulties I’ve gone through, and because you’ve been faithful so far, I believe in the future, whatever terrible things may come, LORD, I’m solid, I’m good, I’m not going to be afraid, I’m confident.’ Easy for us to read, huh? Easy to listen to. But there’s that seminary of God’s Spirit, and these are mandatory courses, not electives. It seems that we learn, at least me, slowly, I’m a slow learner, an experiential learner, and these lessons come, with light. It’s remarkable to think ‘This kid’s in his 20’s as he’s writing, certainly the Holy Spirit writing through him, but remarkable, and with great confidence.’
David’s Number One Desire---Is It Ours?
And then he says this, and we know this verse, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; 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.” (verse 4) And of course, in the natural, that’s an impossibility. It says “to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,” you have to be of the tribe of Aaron, or of the tribe of Levi. And David I know would love to have been a priest. But he says ‘Here’s the one thing, this is what tops the charts, this tops the list, of all of the things, he says, that I’ve desired of the LORD, this is number 1,’ And it’s remarkable too, when you consider all the things he’s going through. He could have said, ‘LORD, this is the top of the list, safety, top of the list, deliverance, top of the list, I want to see my mom and dad again, top of the list, let Saul fall off a cliff, top of the list, no, he says ‘This is the top of the list, this is the one thing,’ and it says, “I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD…’ The Hebrew is “This is the one thing I have asked,” His desire is not ambivalent, his desire is not neutral. He moves on his desire, and how he does that, he asks of the LORD. He says ‘This is one thing,’ and he says ‘I’m asking for it,’ he’s praying about it, and “that will I seek after,” he’s telling the way he seeks after it is to be asking the LORD in regard to it. And he says ‘This what it is,’ “that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,” Now to dwell in the house of the LORD, it’s a good translation there, “house,” it can refer to a tent, it could refer to the Tabernacle, it isn’t the word that was necessarily ever used for Temple. So what takes it in it’s context and makes it look at the Temple or the Tabernacle is it says “the house” and is followed up “of the LORD.” That very specifically qualifies it. Throughout the Old Testament when this word “house” is used, it’s normally “house”, it can mean “tent”, it can mean “tabernacle.” But he says the dwelling that he’s talking about here is the one of the LORD. It’s “the house of the LORD”, he uses a different word at the end of the verse that really points to an immense structure, which would be the Temple, which hasn’t been built yet. So he’s seeing things. He says ‘This is the thing I’m asking the LORD for, and I’m seeking after,’ and it’s the first thing, it’s the one thing, it’s preeminent above all other things. And of course when you’re getting chased by an army every day, and people are shooting at you and lying about you, and they want to eat up your flesh, and all that stuff, you want to say ‘You can come today, blow the trumpet, today’s a good day, Lord, come today.’ That’s what David’s saying here. ‘This is the one thing, let’s do this first, one thing have I desired of the LORD,’ so he says “that I may dwell in the house” the LORD’s dwelling place “of the LORD all the days of my life,” to this end, “to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” This is a Temple or a palace, or a massive structure which wasn’t built yet, that God hadn’t given him the plans for it yet. Solomon is not conceived or born yet, so he’s seeing something. Abraham saw the city whose builder and maker was God, he’s seeing something here, remarkable. [Comment: and this all points to the city of God Abraham looked forward to, and we look forward to, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm] And he says ‘LORD, in the midst of all this insanity, all of my enemies, all of this, the one thing I want LORD, I’m seeking you for this, I’m asking you for this, because I want to get into your house, I want to get into your hospitality.’ Look, in this day, David’s day, if you came into somebody’s tent, you came into somebody’s hospitality in the ancient Near East, that meant provision, it meant protection, he understands, if he’s welcome as a guest into the house of the LORD, he’s cared for, he’s got it, he’s got it.
Once We’re In The House Of The LORD, Then What?
And he says ‘This is how the LORD entertains his guests,’ he says, “to behold the beauty of the LORD,” and the word “behold” there is not the same word we have in the New Testament, “behold” which means “consider this, think about this,” this word “behold” means “to gaze upon.” ‘LORD I want to come in, and when I get under your tent and when I’m there, I want to gaze upon your beauty.’ Now the translators struggled to find the right word there. That word “beauty” means “friendliness,” it means “pleasantness,’” it means “all that is fair and sweet to look upon.” It’s a word that’s filled with insinuation. He says ‘This is what I want to do, LORD, I want to get into your house, and when I get there, I want to sit down, and I want to gaze upon the wonder of your nature, your welcoming nature, your loving nature, your gracious nature, your friendliness, your fairness, your sweetness, LORD, I just want to sit. I’m tired of enemies, I’m tired of getting chewed up and spit out, LORD, you’re my light, my salvation, you’re my stronghold, I want to get into your house and I just want to sit.’ You ever feel that way? You know, you go through tremendous illness, you go through tremendous difficulty, you go through tremendous depression? How many times do you say ‘Lord, I just want to get in, I’ll be the least in your Kingdom, your Word talks about the least in your Kingdom, I’ll be that, I’ll just be the Kingdom beggar, just let me inside the front gate, give me a golden blanket, a golden cup, I’ll sit there and be the…I’m done, I’m outa here, Lord, just let me in (cf. Psalm 84:10) ? And David, in his remarkable ability to see something of God, even this structure that’s not made, no doubt he’s gazing into something internal, and he says, ‘This is the one thing, LORD, I obsess on this, guys are chasing me, I’m running, there’s arrows whizzing by me, and I’m just thinking, ‘let me get into your house, just let me sit there, and let me gaze, LORD, let me gaze upon all that you are, all the wonder of your being.’ ‘And let me enquire,’ is to meditate or contemplate, ‘let me take all of that in, let me think of all of that in your Temple, your Palace, LORD, this structure.’ He says, “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:” and it’s more than “hide” it’s “conceal” so that you can’t be found. “he shall conceal me in his pavilion:” here he calls it “his shelter”, he says “in the secret of his tabernacle” now “tent” where only the priests could enter, “shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock.” (verse 5) Look, this is the, this is kind of “the abiding in Christ” of the Old Testament. Verse 4 and 5 are one of the most remarkable places in all of the Old Testament, ‘This one thing.’ You know, in Luke chapter 10, when he goes to the house of Mary and Martha, Martha’s being a busy little bee there, and working, and Mary is sitting listening to the Lord, and Martha comes in all busied-out, like people that get busy get busied-out, and basically accuses Jesus, ‘The reason I’m working alone, and this Hippie’s sitting on the floor, is because He doesn’t care.’ ‘Lord, don’t you care?’ You know, ‘My sister, she’s just sitting there, and I’m working all alone.’ And he says to her ‘Martha, Martha, you’re troubled about many things. One thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that one thing, and it shall not be taken away from her, it’s just one thing that’s needful, above all else, that’s to sit at my feet.’ David kind of knew that here. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, ‘Good master, what must I do to be saved?’ He’s got all this religion, he knows what he’s after, he’s a ruler of the synagogue, he’s laying things in jeopardy by coming to Jesus. Jesus says ‘You know the commandments, don’t commit adultery, don’t…just keep the commandments.’ And he says ‘Master, all of these things have I kept, from my youth up to now.’ And one of the Gospels tells us Jesus, I think it’s Mark, says ‘Jesus looked at him, and loved him.’ He said, ‘One thing thou lackest, sell all that thou hast, give it to the poor, and come and follow me.’ Now that’s not for all of us, that was just the one thing in his life that needed, it’s incidental, it’s relative to the person, personality. [Comment: Some believe Jesus was offering this one particular young man a discipleship, like the 12 disciples. It is possible.] But he says there’s one thing you’re lacking? ‘You have something in your life that’s keeping you from following me with all of your heart.’ That’s the one thing that’s necessary, that’s the one thing that Mary had, one thing. What are the things in our lives, that busy us so that we don’t sit at his feet? What are the things in our lives that we need to set aside, so we can follow him wholeheartedly? That’s the one thing. He died on the cross so that we could come and be in fellowship with him. Not so we could ask for stuff. He’s glad to give us stuff, but so we can be in opened-face fellowship with him. Paul says, ‘I got all the credentials, tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the 8th day, a Pharisee of the Pharisees,’ but he says ‘I count all of those things as dung, they’re all worthless, that I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering, if by any means I might be made conformable to his death. I have not yet apprehended that which I have been…I still haven’t figured out why he loves me. But this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, I press forward to the mark of the high calling of Christ.’ That is for every one of us in this room, there is a high calling in Christ on our lives. We have eternity ahead of us, we have glory ahead of us, we have days to sit in the house of the LORD, and to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his Temple, those days are ahead of all of us. Paul says ‘The one thing I do, is forgetting the things that are behind, I press toward the mark of the high calling of Christ.’ David says it here, so long ago, a 20-year-old, one thing, this is it, top of the list. The one thing isn’t ‘Boy, I wish I could get to the throne, Saul’s driving me nuts,’ no, none of that. Not the power, not the glory, ‘One thing I have desired, asked of the LORD, this is what I’m asking, this is the one thing, this is at the top of the list, and this is what I’m seeking after, that I might dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, I want to get into his presence, and there I might gaze upon the wonder of his being, I want to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD, and just sit there and meditate, just ruminate, contemplate what’s before my eyes.’ ‘For in time of trouble, he’s going to conceal me, he’s going to hide me, he’s going to give me that place, in his pavilion, in his shelter,’ “in the secret of his Tabernacle shall he hide me, he shall set me upon a rock.” What wonders he must have been seeing. Listen, he’s going to find sanctuary. You know, in the Medieval days, you were allowed to flee to the Church, cathedrals for sanctuary. I know you’ve all seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame where he’s going ‘Sanctuary! Sanctuary!’ if you could run and get into Notre Dame, if you could run and get into a church, then you were given sanctuary. That tradition in the Church goes back to the Cities of Refuge in the Old Testament, where someone who was accused of something, even murder, if it was involuntary [i.e. manslaughter] could flee and get into the City of Refuge, and there his life was preserved, and he would remain there, wonderfully, until the death of the high priest, and then he was set free. We’ve been all set free by the death of our High Priest. So he says here, ‘He’s going to hide me in his pavilion, he’s going to give me sanctuary, he’s going to set me upon a rock,’
“I Will Sing Praises Unto Him”---Our Praise & Worship
And he says, “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.” (verse 6) “I’m surrounded by them, but my head is going to be lifted up above theirs,’ and really, this is the high point, emotionally, in the Psalm. Listen, he says “therefore” ‘because of that’ “will I offer in his tabernacle” and for you and I, that’s this place we sit in tonight, “therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy;” it’s literally “sacrifices of shouting”, David was a little more demonstrative than we are, you know, he danced before the LORD with all of his might, he shouted before the LORD, evidently. But look, “I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.” ‘I’m going to gather in his presence, I’m going to gather into his tabernacle,’ so important, listen, when we come here, I think the worship, and I’m so thankful for our worship leaders, we have great worship leaders. And we don’t ever want to put on, you know, it’s not a Las Vegas show-band up here, so you come and you’re wowed, and you’re more interested in staring at the band than lifting your heart to the Lord. Because we want you to come and bring your heart before the Lord, and sing, and offer those sacrifices of praise and look to him, and then that prepares your heart to hear the Word. It’s all necessary, and it’s all part of worship. And the high point emotionally here, he says, ‘You know what? Enemies around me, trouble, they hassled me at work today, they’re trying to degrade me in my pay, I got people there gossiping about me, crazy uncle Harry kept driving by the house last night, two in the morning blowing the horn,’ you know, we’ve all got one of those. You know, all this stuff, and he says ‘But I’m going to come into the house of the LORD, and I’m going to lift up my voice with shoutings and I am going to sing praise to my God. I’m going to sing praise to him, praises unto the LORD, because he strengthens me, he keeps me, he gives me light, he assures me, he conceals me, he hides me, he sets me upon a rock, and he’s going to bring me to where one day I can look into his face.’
‘Hear Me, Answer My Prayer---You Said ‘Seek My Face, I Sought Your Face’
He says, “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.” (verse 7) King James says “have mercy”, literally it’s “have grace”, “have graciousness.” “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have grace also upon me, and answer me.” David doesn’t want to approach the LORD on any other terms but grace, it’s an interesting picture here. And then verses 8 to 10, they go together, there’s a picture here, this is what he says, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” You see in King James that’s in italics, which means for the translators, it’s a tough series of words to translate, but it gives us the great sense of it. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee,” and the Hebrew gives it the indication ‘that the LORD had said to his heart, Seek my face,’ and we know that’s clear, because then he says “Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” So what he’s saying here is, ‘LORD, you put the impression on my heart, LORD, you put it there, that I need to seek your face.’ So he says, ‘So my heart then responded, and said unto thee,’ “Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” So, then, in keeping with that, he says, “Hide not thy face far from me;” verse 7 said he wanted to approach the LORD in grace, not legalistically, I mean, David has the Pentateuch, David has the Book of Joshua, and of Judges, ah, he may have Ruth. Ah, 1st Kings, 1st Samuel, none of those are written yet, so he has some of the Old Testament. But he says here, ‘You’ve put it on my heart to seek you, I’ve responded, LORD, I’m seeking your face. So don’t hide your face 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.” (verse 9) ‘in anger’ he knows he’s just a man. In one of the Psalms just before this he said ‘remember not the sins of my youth.’ “thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” Back to verse 1, he said ‘You are the God of my salvation.’ He had said to Joshua, Joshua 1, verse 5, ‘I will never leave thee or forsake thee.’ Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5 quotes that and says to you and I, the Lord, ‘he will never leave me or forsake me.’ He said in Matthew chapter 28, verse 20, ‘Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.’ He never leaves us, he never forsakes us. Look, that is a matter of faith. Is his Word true, or are your feelings true? Because somebody who wants to right away argue with that and say ‘Well I don’t feel he’s there, he said he wouldn’t leave me or forsake me, I’m feeling forsaken, where is he?’ Well wait a minute, are your feelings true, or is the Bible true? If you don’t mind, I’m going to stick with the Bible. [Comment: And Bible prophecy, with probably over one third of all the prophecies in the Bible having already been fulfilled and in the history books, proves the veracity of the Bible, the Word of God. To see how this works, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ProofOfTheBible-FulfilledProphecy.htm] Which tells me, when you don’t feel him, where he is, is right next to you not wanting you to feel him. Because he said he’d never leave or forsake you, so he’s gotta be there. And he doesn’t want us to base our relationship on him with whether we feel, ‘Look, my hair’s standing up, I got the Holy Goose-bumples, whatever they are [laughter], my hair’s standing up on the back of my neck,’ there’s a good Biblical guideline for knowing whether the Lord is close. And I love all those things if they happen, don’t get me wrong. But he says ‘he’s never going to leave me or forsake me, you’re my help, LORD, don’t do that, LORD, I trust you.’ He says “When my father and my mother forsake me,” the dearest of earthly relationships, ‘when they forsake me,’ his parents at this point in time in Moab, he says “then the LORD will take me up.” (verse 10) It says “take me up” in the King James, it’s “he will gather me.” it’s a picture of this, what mom and dad does, ‘the LORD will gather me.’ And this is a remarkable set of verses, seeking the Lord, how do we do that? There’s a number of times in this Psalm, seeking the LORD, we’re coming on Sunday night to seek the Lord. What does that mean, exactly, do we come and get down and look under all the pews? I mean, it’s not a seeking geographically, it’s not a seeking with the physical eye, it’s a heart issue. You know, he said in Jeremiah, ‘You shall seek me, and find me when you shall search for me with all of your heart. When your heart is complete and your entire heart is in the process of searching for me, you’re going to find me.’ He’s not playing Marko Polo, ‘Marko, Polo, he’s over there in the sanctuary,’ no, there isn’t any of that. He wants us to find him, he died on the cross, and he took down the veil, he removed the boundaries, he set everything aside so that we can fellowship. And the first experience of that is exercised in faith. David says ‘You’re my light, you’re my salvation, you’re my stronghold. Yea, I’m surrounded with enemies, yea, they want to chew me up and spit me out, but you’ve been faithful this far. I believe if war arises tomorrow, I’m going to trust in you there, I’m going to be confident. Because, LORD, I’m not in this for gold or silver or the throne, there isn’t I think I want any more than I asked you for, what I seek you for, LORD, is that I might dwell in your house all the days of my life, I want to be in glory, and I want to sit, and I want to gaze upon your beauty, LORD, I want to gaze upon it, and I want just ruminate and contemplate and meditate on what’s before my eyes. But I know you’re going to hide me in your pavilion, you’re going to conceal me, LORD, in the time of trouble, in your own shelter, in your own Tabernacle, LORD, you’re going to take me, and you’re going to put me upon a rock. I know these things, LORD, and because of that my head’s going to be lifted up above my enemies, I’m going to go to the house of the LORD, I’m singing to you LORD,’ how many of you got chased into the sanctuary by enemies tonight, arrows whizzing by you, slinging at you, chasing you with a sword, you know, their army’s giant chasing you down, Fee, Fi, Fo Fum, and you come running in here and say ‘I’m gonna sing, I’m gonna sing when I get there, because my head is lifted up above my enemies’ ? And he said ‘LORD, you put it on my heart to seek you, and I said ‘LORD, your face then I’m going to seek, so don’t hide your face from me, LORD, don’t put away your servant in anger, LORD, I’m coming on the terms of grace,’ “thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” ‘even when my mother and my father, the most tender of all earthly relationships, when it comes time for them to fail, LORD, I believe you’re going to take me up, you’re going to gather me to yourself.’
‘Teach Me Thy Way, Lead Me On Level Ground’
“Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.” (verse 11) It literally is “a path of level ground.” Nothing special about it, quite practical to a soldier, to a man of war. He a says “Teach me thy way, O LORD,” and look what he anticipates. You know, what is the Lord’s way for your life? Is it difficult, is it torturous? He said ‘The LORD’s my shepherd.’ He says here, “Teach me thy way, O LORD,” and part of being taught the way of the LORD is being led in a place of level ground. That doesn’t make it hard. ‘And that, because of the enemies, LORD, lead me on an easy path, lead me on a path of plainness, of level ground.’ “Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” (verse 12) Why? Because he’s submitted to the will of the LORD, there’s another will he doesn’t want to be yielded to. He desires to be yielded to the will of the LORD. “Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me,” ever have that experience? You all sit there and act like I don’t know what I’m talking about? Ah, anybody have a false witness against them today? Just me and you? Anybody else? Nobody? False witnesses? Ok, somebody over here, thank you. “false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty” lying, gossip. You know, it can hurt as much as a sword. It can hurt, you know, as much as an arrow. The truth is, you know, somebody says something cruel, it can stay with you your entire life. Again, my Aunt breathing her last, at 94-years-old, five minutes before she died, told me about what her father had done to her when she came home from Kindergarten, that he wouldn’t look at her and turned away, 89 years before that, when she was 5-years-old, it was on her heart five minutes before she slipped into eternity. Isn’t that interesting? And David’s young, he’s impetuous, he’s godly, he’s still tender. He says ‘LORD, I don’t want to be given over to their will, LORD, protect me, I’m going to be in your will,’ “for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” Somebody can say something cruel, and it can hurt you for the rest of your life, sadly, we are tender, we’re not meant to be in that environment. Revelation 21, when we get to heaven [into the Kingdom of heaven, which will, as Revelation 21 shows, end up existing on earth] there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more crying, as he wipes the tears away from our eyes. We are not meant to be in an abusive situation, not even one sentence of abuse, it’s not what he created us for. That’s not how we’re all going to spend eternity. We’re meant to be in the house of the LORD all the days of our life, to be gazing upon his beauty, that’s our destiny.
‘Wait In Hope Upon the LORD’
And then he says this, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (verse 13) and look, that’s in italics again. It’s insinuated by ‘Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living,’ it’s almost, ‘It’d have been too much, I’d have fainted if, I had failed, unless, the truth was, that I believed to see,’ he hadn’t seen it yet, you haven’t seen it yet, ‘I believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living,’ “and the land of the living” would expand to David’s experience as he gets older. He was still hoping, he was still pretty much optimistic about hoping things. As time went on, you know in 2nd Samuel 23, he finally writes about the Kingdom that’s coming, he sees so much clearer “the land of the living.” But because of who the LORD is throughout all of this, he said, “I’d have thrown in the towel, I’d have fainted, I’d have fallen apart, except that I believe to see,’ he was walking in faith, ‘the goodness of the LORD,’ in the midst of war and all those who were chasing him, ‘I believe to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.’ And now his exhortation to us, ok. Here’s what it’s all coming to. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (verse 14) It’s our favorite word, isn’t it? “Wait.” I can’t stand to be in the check-out line behind somebody who pulls out a check [oh man, Pastor Joe, you’re a man after my own heart!]. I always think, ‘This is not why it’s called a “check-out line.” It should be called a “check-away line” or “don’t pull your check-out line.” “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Listen, it’s interesting, because the Hebrew word that’s used twice is this, “hope on the LORD.” You know, in the New Testament, because of the class condition, when we have the word “hope,” you can have the word “hope” and “it’s definitely going to happen,” you can have the word “hope”, and “this might happen, that’s why I’m hoping.” And you can have the word “I’m hoping because it is going to happen.” There are the class conditions. In the Hebrew the word “wait” here is the idea of “waiting because you’re hoping in something.” And right here in the Hebrew it says “hope on the LORD,” and then it’s “allow your heart to be strengthened,” it’s asking you to do something. “Hope on the LORD, be of good courage, allow your heart to be strengthened, hope, I say, on the LORD.” And it was David’s experience. He’s saying you know, as a young man, ‘Look, hope on the LORD.’ Look, he’s going to hit some way low spots as we go through the Psalms, some way high spots. But in this Psalm he’s saying ‘Hope in the LORD.’ You know, ‘All of this that I’ve said, my exhortation is to you, hope in the LORD,’ he says, ‘be of good courage, don’t be discouraged, allow your heart to be strengthened.’ What he’s telling us is what strengthens the heart is to be hoping in the LORD. Where is your hope? ‘Hope, I say, in the LORD.’ Where is your hope tonight? Look, we get really discouraged when our hope ends up in a lot of other things that our hope shouldn’t end up in. That’s how we can get really, really discouraged. We’re never going to be discouraged if our hope is in the Lord, our expectation is in him. This [obviously pointing to himself], it’s temporary, passing away. We just got here, we ain’t staying long. Our hope is in the LORD.
When we come together, just sing his praises, like he says ‘I’m going to go to the house of the LORD, I’m going to sing out loud.’ When the musicians come, I’m going to have them come, we’ll end, we’ll have time for two songs. Ah, let’s sing out loud, with shoutings, he says. I’m just going to go and do that. The world stinks, people might be chewing me up all day, stab me in the back, I get sick of it, but I’ve learned this, I’m not gonna go get a bottle, I’m not gonna go get a joint, I’m not gonna lay out a line on the table, I’m not gonna get a gun and get revenge, I’m not going to go out and get all this other stuff, I’m going to sing out loud to the Lord, because he’s my deliverer, he’s the one who spares me, he’s the one who saved me, he’s the one whose taken my life and put it on a rock. So that’s what I’m going to do, in the darkest and in the hardest of times. And my one desire is to sit in his presence, and just gaze at him in all of his glory and all of his wonder, and all of his grace, and just to think about that while I do it. That’s a good request, isn’t it? That is a good request. Isn’t it interesting here, he says ‘LORD, you put it on my heart to seek you.’ I want you to listen this evening, as we enter into this song. You know, maybe you’re sitting here tonight, ‘OK, that’s enough, I get the point, let up, I don’t want to hear it anymore,’ it doesn’t matter what I’m saying. David says here ‘LORD, you said to my heart, Seek my face.’ I hope you’re listening closely before we begin to lift our voices to sing. Are you cast down, are you beat up? Forget about my voice, listen closely, is Jesus telling you tonight, ‘Seek my face.’ All the rest is fluff. It’s going to blow away in the wind, ‘Seek my face, I’m never going to leave you or forsake you, put your heart behind this,’ because he loves us, we’re his children. And he directs us even to seek his face. Just two weeks ago, standing on the balcony in Jerusalem, looking at the Temple Mount on the Mount of Olives, and was praying with my son, and I’m standing there thinking ‘How the heck did I get here? I was a druggie in Philadelphia, how did I ever get here, Lord?’ He is so faithful, he is so gracious, he is so loving. And we blow it, he dusts us off, picks us up, puts us back on our feet, we blow it again, he puts us back on our feet again, we blow it, he puts us back on our feet again. Doesn’t he? Anybody been dusted off more than three times here? [applause] Let’s stand up, let’s sing with all of our hearts, to the one whose bidding us that we should seek him, that we should lift up our voices before him. And in spite of all that’s going on out there, here we are! Here we are, look at this, look around this room, look where we are. How in the world did this happen? Did you ever think you’d be in church Wednesday night singing, studying the Bible? That was like pretty far from the direction I was headed in. And here we are. He’s faithful, he’s good. Let’s sing out loud. ‘Father, I know you’ve overheard, we love you, we love your Word, we love these ancient songs of Israel, we love the feeling of them, the deep, Lord, gut-wrenching part of them, the truth, the part of it that comes down to our lives, to where we feel, and where we think, Lord, to where we ruminate, to where we, Lord, look at these things, and hash them out, Lord, to where we sense your presence, to where you stoop to us, Lord. And as we lift our voices now, Lord, let it be a prayer, Lord, let it be a sweet savour that rises before your throne. Lord, of all in this world that breaks your heart tonight, I pray these voices rising off of Philmont Avenue would bless you Lord. Of all that puts a tear in your eye tonight, of the lost humanity and the bitterness and the anger and the venom of this world, and of Satan, Father let our voices put a smile on your face, Lord, let us bless you now Lord, we pray in Jesus name, and for his glory, amen.’ Let’s bless him with all of our strength, with our voices…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Psalm 27:1-14, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]
Our desire “that I may dwell in the house of the LORD” points to our dwelling in the New Jerusalem. See,
How can we know God’s Word, the Bible, is true? See,