When we meet the person of faith in Psalm 27 he/she seems so sure, so bold – almost audacious! “The Lord gives me light and saves me. Why should I fear anyone? The Lord is my place of safety. Why should I be afraid?” declares the psalmist in verse 1, according to the New International Reader’s Version. “What wonderful faith, how brave!” we may applaud the psalmist. How wonderful to be able to stand assured in your faith and to look down on all possible challenges without fear.
However, when we listen to the psalmist’s prayer in verses 4 to 6 the picture is no longer that of someone standing in the open, boldly challenging all opposition. Here we find someone in the temple. Worshipping, praying, seeking God and even hiding from the enemies. “When I’m in trouble, he will keep me safe in his house. He will hide me in the safety of his holy tent. He will put me on a rock that is very high” (v 5 NIRV). Here the psalmist is still sure, but not overconfident, bold but not daring. The “rock” is now a place onto which God has lifted the worshipper. It is only as one who receives mercy from God that the psalmist will be victorious (cf v 6).
In the next six verses this same psalmist is earnestly calling to God for help. He/she cries anxiously, “Lord, hear my voice when I call out to you. Show me your favor and answer me” (v 7 NIRV). Verse 9 is a desperate prayer: “Don’t turn your face away from me. Don’t turn me away because you are angry. You have helped me. God my Savior, don’t say no to me. Don’t desert me” (NIRV). Distressed, the psalmist holds onto God who is merciful (cf v 7), his/her helper (cf v 9), the faithful parent (cf v 10) and good (cf v 13).
The story of Psalm 27 is the story of what happens when a person of faith experiences life as so many of us know it – with all its challenges and difficulties, its highs and its lows. Sometimes it may feel like a roller coaster ride from standing boldly in faith to the depth of desperate prayer for help.
Although the Psalm acknowledges this, it ends with the hope of seeing God’s goodness (v 13) and the encouragement to wait on the Lord (v 14).
To think about or discuss: How does the story of this Psalm compare with stories we hear from Christians who have discovered that they are HIV positive?