Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
We must not think worse of him or his ways for the hardships we meet with his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstances on earth….Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it.” Matthew Henry
Introduction: In Psalm 119:92, the psalmist declares, If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. That is my testimony and Psalm 27 was the delight that carried me through a very dark time in my life. It became a weapon in my hands to defeat the lies of the enemy. I write these devotionals in the hope that you will find the same delight and deliverance I found in this awesome testimony to the faithfulness of our God.
If you are a friend of God, you have an enemy called Satan. He hates God and all who love His glory. He cannot harm God, so he tries to destroy the ones God has created for His purpose. Sometimes he uses pleasure and sometimes he uses pain. He uses pleasure in a way that seeks to deceive mankind into thinking that the created things are more satisfying than the Creator. He uses pain to deceive the followers of God into thinking that God does not care about His children. That is not to say that he does not seek to destroy God’s followers, for he is a murderer from the beginning. But even here, God is in control. Not a hair on the head of God’s people can be harmed without His permission. And when the devil thinks he has his way, like on the cross, God transforms apparent tragedy into a glorious victory.
That is why we see so much war language in the Bible. In Psalm 27, David, a man after God’s heart, is giving expression to his confidence in God who is his light when darkness surrounds, his deliverer when enemies attack, and his stronghold that he can run to in times of danger. In verses 2-3, he describes a progression of increasing dangers that threaten his life. First, evil enemies are attacking him. Then, he finds himself surrounded on all sides. Finally, he is the target of an all-out war. In each of these threats he remains safe and confident for God is looking after his welfare.
Exposition: Psalm 27
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh; when my enemies and foes attack- they will stumble and fall. Verse 2
The attacks of the enemy come to us in external circumstances that seek to destroy us, for he is a murderer from the beginning; and from internal deceptions, for he is a liar and the father of lies. In both strategies, his goal is to rob us of our faith and joy in God. Most of us will not be subjected to the kind of physical threats that David is experiencing, but we could. Paul admonishes us to prepare for the evil day when the enemy employs a barrage of weapons against us. The point of this psalm is that no matter what the enemy does, no matter how intense the battle becomes, the man or woman who has God as their stronghold, is safe.
One of the ways that the enemy seeks to rob us of our life is to provoke enemies who seek to destroy the things we hold dear. He uses people whose motives are evil and meant to hurt. They think they are right in their actions and nothing will stop them from carrying out their plans. So, what is our response? Our most natural response is fear. This is not fun and games. We face real personal and painful loss. How do we handle such threats?
For David the issue was settled. As fierce and committed as those enemies are, they could not destroy him. Their plans would fail. They would fall. David’s God is ruling over the lives of evil men as well as over the lives of his people. No man can ultimately rob him of the good God has prepared for all those who love him and are called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28] So, David confidently declares, The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? [Ps 118:6] The answer to that question, of course, is Nothing! God in His infinite wisdom and power will turn around all of our enemies worst schemes for our good and His glory. We can say in the face of our enemies, You meant it for evil. God meant it for good. [Genesis 50:20]
Though an army besiege me,-my heart will not fear. Verse 3a
Sometimes our situation seems to take on the characteristics of an organized conspiracy. There are so many things coming against us that it seems like there is a coordinated scheme to surround us so that we think we have no way out. Again, it is quite natural to look at the forces that have us hemmed in and to be paralyzed with fear. It is here that we need to open our eyes of faith.
We have a great illustration of this in a story found in 2 Kings, chapter six. The prophet Elisha has been guiding the leadership of Israel in their conflict with the king of Aram. Every time he devised a sneak attack upon Israel, they would be prepared and ready for him. It became so frustrating for the Aram king that he thought a traitor was in his council. Then, someone informed him of the counsel of Elisha. So, he set out to capture the prophet and remove this impediment to his plans.
The servant of Elisha awoke one morning and went outside and was scared spitless by what he saw. The hills were covered with an army of chariots and horses. He ran back into the house and cried out to Elisha, Oh, my lord, what shall we do? Elijah responded, Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are greater than those who are with them. Then he prayed, O Lord, open his eyes that he may see. His eyes of faith were opened and what he saw was an army of fire that was surrounding the Arameans.
I found myself in a similar situation this morning. My enemies seemed to surround me and I saw no avenue of escape. All I could do was cry out for help. I needed my eyes to be opened so I could see past the problems to the God who rules in love over every enemy of my soul. When my eyes were opened, through the reading of this text and prayer, I saw a God who loves me, who called me, who promised to go with me and provide for me, whose grace was sufficient for any threat, and would glorify His faithfulness to me in my trust in him. So, I got up and took on the challenges of the day, with a renewed hope.
Though war break out against me, even then will I still be confident. Verse 3b
There is the story of the boxer who was getting a real beating. In between rounds the trainer tried to encourage him with these words, “He isn’t hitting you. He cant lay a glove on you.” The bloody fighter responded, “Then, keep your eye on the referee, cause somebody is beating on me.”
We will have evil days when it seems like war has broken out against us. At times, the apostle Paul must have felt like a punching bag. In 2 Corinthians 6, he says he suffered in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. [4-5] He never knew when or from where the next blow would come. In the midst of such a barrage, he was undaunted: Yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. [2 Cor 6:9-10]
Sorrowful, but always rejoicing. Having nothing yet possessing everything. What was he rejoicing in? What did he possess? Although attacked on the outside, his heart was safe and rejoicing. He possessed the all-glorious, all-satisfying presence of God in his life. So, in the midst of an all-out attack on his person, his faith and joy in God remained intact.
So, what do these verses tell us? First, I think we need to see that the real battle is not in the things that come against us, but the things that are inside us. By that I mean that our first priority is to know God- his character, his purposes, his promises and his commitment to his people. Second, we must pray for grace to persist in our faith and obedience. Third, we need to fight. By that I mean we must deliberately and aggressively reject the lies and threats that ambush our thoughts, using particular scriptures as our weapons. Fourth, we need to commit our selves to our faithful Creator and continue to do good. [1 Peter 4:19] In other words, just because we are being attacked does not mean we are free to stop doing what God has called us to do. That would be a retreat and a defeat. No, God is our salvation, our deliverer and our stronghold, thus we refuse to let fear deter us from our calling to glorify God by our good deeds.
Let us not forget that we are soldiers. The flesh, the world and the devil will seek to lay us low. But our God rules, and overrules and sanctifies the conflict, even allowing one evil to touch our lives to keep us from greater ones. Finally, because this is about the glory of God, which is our privilege to declare, we will joyfully and with delight trust in his promises in the midst of trouble. We have his word that he will answer our call and deliver us [Psalm 50:15]. In all of this, we fulfill our highest purpose. We get to magnify the wisdom and power of our Commander before the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms. [Ephesians 3:10] That is what faithful soldiers do. That is the source and the goal of their joy.
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