As David faced his fears and expressed them to God in Psalm 27, he began with worship, celebrating the power and faithfulness of his God. The key to the entire song is verse 1. It consists of two similar sentences.
As David faced his fears and expressed them to God in Psalm 27, he began with worship, celebrating the power and faithfulness of his God.
Declaration of Praise
The key to the entire song is verse 1. It consists of two similar sentences, each ending with a rhetorical question.
"The Lord is my light . . . my salvation . . . the defense of my life." Interestingly, David says God is all of this. The Lord doesn't simply give these things. In other words, the psalmist laid claim upon God Himself rather than His works. David knew Him personally. To David, the Lord was a very personal, ever-present Friend and Helper, not some distant Deity—an impersonal, abstract, theological Being who hid Himself high above the clouds. No, David saw the Lord as a faithful companion.
Because of the Lord's presence, which meant more to David than anything else, the composer asks: "Whom shall I fear . . . whom shall I dread?"
Here the Hebrew term for "fear" is a common one: yarah. But the term for "dread" (pachad), meaning "to be in awe, to be filled with dread," is less common. The Lord God was so significant, so impressive, so overwhelmingly important to David that nothing and no one else inspired awe.
I find it encouraging that Psalm 23 declares, "I shall not want," and Psalm 26 states, "I shall not slide" (KJV). And now Psalm 27 says, I "will not fear." In each case, the composer finds what he lacks only in the presence and provisions of God.
Having considered the sufficiency of his God, David recalls the Lord's past victories over his enemies.
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident. (27:2–3)
Note the specific occasions of potential fear: "evildoers . . . adversaries . . . enemies . . . a host . . . war." What a dark scene! And you'll notice that these things weren't mere possibilities; they were realities. He says, "when" not "if." He actually faced these dangers.
Take note of two observations. First, look at the intensity of the conflict: the evildoers came "to devour" (27:2); the host had come to "encamp against me" (27:3); war had risen "against me." This was no slight affliction. Second, look at the psalmist's response in the last phrase of verse 3. In spite of these dangers, both past and future, "I shall be confident." The Hebrew says, literally, "I am confident!" Dangers had come before and danger remained imminent. Pressure mounted. Severe days lay ahead. David had every reason to be shaking in his sandals . . . but he stood firm!
The Hebrew term used by David, translated "confident," does not mean self-reliant or brave, humanly speaking. In Hebrew it means "to trust, to be secure, to have assurance." Its Arabic counterpart is "picturesque": "to throw oneself down upon one's face, to lie upon the ground." The point I want to get across is that the source of David's confidence and stability was not his own strength—but God. His Lord was his only foundation for rocklike stability. What an unshakable foundation!
While living under intense pressure and difficulty, the courageous missionary to inland China, Hudson Taylor, once wrote: "It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies—whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart."1