(Extracted from Scripture Truth Vol. 42, 1965-7, pages 283-5)
The Twenty-seventh Psalm very blessedly presents the experiences of a believer who, amidst all his trials, looks to the Lord with entire singleness of eye and desire (verse 4).
It opens by giving the experience that finds in the Lord an unfailing resource in the presence of every form of opposition (1-3). We then learn the secret desire of the Psalmist's heart after the Lord (4), and his confidence in the Lord (5, 6). We listen to his prayer to the Lord (7-12); and finally learn how he waits to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (13, 14).
THE LORD THE RESOURCE OF THE GODLY
(Verses 1-3). In all his difficulties and trials, the godly soul finds in the Lord his unfailing resource. The Lord is his "light", his "salvation", and his "strength".
Amidst the prevailing darkness the Lord not only gives light but He is light. The Christian can say that the Lord has trodden the path and met the contradiction of sinners and is the perfect example of the spirit in which opposition is to be met. Moreover, the Lord can deliver, and in the end will deliver from every enemy. In the meantime the Lord is our strength to support us through all the trials of life.
With the Lord as his resource, the believer can say, "Of whom shall I be afraid?" We may be opposed by individual enemies, or by a host of enemies, or by "war" — prolonged opposition at every step of the journey. But the heart need not fear nor the soul lose confidence seeing we have the Lord as our light, our salvation, and our strength.
DESIRE AFTER THE LORD
(Verse 4). Behind this confidence in the Lord, there is the earnest desire after the Lord. Above all else the Psalmist desires to live in the constant sense of the presence of the Lord — to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to learn of Him. In New Testament days we learn that the one thing that the Psalmist desired, is the one thing that Mary chose — to sit at the feet of the Lord and hear His Word.
CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD
(Verses 5, 6). Connected with desires after the Lord there is of necessity confidence in the Lord. If the Lord is my salvation He will hide me from all my enemies. If He is my strength, He will "keep me" in safety (N.T.) firmly established upon a rock; and, in due time, will lift up my head above all my enemies for His own glory and praise.
THE PRAYER TO THE LORD
(Verses 7-12). In the prayer we see the exercise of this godly man in the presence of the Lord. In the presence of the enemy he realises the strength of the Lord; in the presence of the Lord he is conscious of his own weakness and sin, for which he fears the anger of the Lord. Nevertheless he learns the evil of his own heart in the presence of the grace that can meet it all, for has not the Lord said to him, "Seek ye my face." Even so in the day of our Lord Peter discovers that he is a sinful man in the presence of the One whose heart is full of grace for a man that is full of sin (Luke 5:8).
Secondly, encouraged to seek the face of the Lord, he prays that the Lord will not hide His face — that he may be kept in the sense of the Lord's favour shining upon him. It is one thing for the Christian to know that he is accepted in the Beloved and stands in the favour of God; it is another thing to walk in the conscious sense of this favour.
Thirdly, realising that the Lord has been his help in times past, he desires that the Lord will not leave nor forsake him in the days to come, even though he may be forsaken by the nearest on earth. Seeing that the Lord has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," the Christian can "boldly say, The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do to me" (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Fourthly, he desires to be taught the way of the Lord. It is not simply a way that he desires, but, realising that the Lord has His way for His people, through this world, he prays, "Teach me thy way, O Lord."
Fifthly, he realises that there are many enemies that would seek to turn him out of the Lord's way, therefore he desires, not only to be taught the way but, to be led in the way. He says, "Lead me in an even path, because of mine enemies" (N.T.). We need light to see the path, faith to take it, and grace to keep us in it.
Sixthly, realising his own weakness in the presence of his enemies he prays that the Lord would deliver him from the will of enemies, who without conscience witness against him falsely, and without heart breathe out cruelty.
WAITING FOR THE LORD
(Verses 13, 14). Left to himself this godly man would have fainted. What sustained him? Faith in the goodness of the Lord that would bring him into the land of the living. The Christian can say the grace that brings salvation to me on earth will bring me to the glory in heaven. All around we see the evil of man in a world of sin and death, but faith walks in the confidence that very soon we shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
For this we must with quiet patience wait the Lord's own time.
Therefore, the word is, "Wait on the Lord." All that we have to face on the way can be met with "good courage", for the Lord will support us if walking in His way. He will strengthen the heart. So, whether it be for grace in the way, or the final mercy that delivers us from a world of death and brings us into the goodness of the land of the living, let us "Wait on the Lord", with the single eye that leads us to say, "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."