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A confident hope
Confident hope. It sounds like an oxymoron. How can you be confident in something if you still hope for it? By its very nature, hope means something we desire has yet to happen. We hope for things that may or may not occur. Confidence, on the other hand, expresses a degree of certainty or even assurance in what is to come. It’s like a lottery ticket versus money in the bank. And yet, confident hope is precisely what we find in Psalm 27, where David:
Proclaims that Yahweh is his hope, strength, and salvation despite his enemies
Petitions for Yahweh’s aid
Professes his faith in Yahweh’s goodness and trustworthiness
Preaches to his own soul—anchoring himself in the Lord who is immovable, unshakeable, and unwavering
This weighty first verse lays the foundation for the rest of the psalm. It is a proclamation that the LORD is the sole source of David’s confident hope.
Vs. 1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
David’s faith is not in some abstract concept, power, or force; it is in the personal, covenant-making, covenant-keeping God who delights to be known by his people. This is the God in whom David trusts and delights. Because Yahweh is David’s comfort, strength, safety, and protection, he can confidently say, “Whom shall I fear?”!
Yahweh is David’s stronghold—a military term similar to a fortress fortified with solid and high walls, watch towers, and artillery. It is the front-line defense for a city in a time of war. When the fortress is breached, the city and its citizens are most vulnerable to enemies. But for David, the Lord is his impenetrable stronghold, which leads him to say in verses 2-3,
“When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”
When evildoers assail. Though an army encamp and war arise. David does not downplay his hardship. Instead, he reminds himself that though his difficulty is great, his God is greater! Regardless of his suffering, he is confident his adversaries will not ultimately be victorious. David reminds us that God’s faithfulness to his children is not evidenced by the absence of hardship or suffering in our lives but by his promise to be with us in them and to, one day, deliver us from them.
It is easy to forget God’s faithfulness because we are vulnerable. We fear others because we do suffer when they hurt us. We feel the sting of their arrows — betrayal, harsh words, rejection, gossip/slander, or threats to our livelihood. However, our hope is secure in a God whose limitless power, wrapped in his abiding and faithful love, surpasses anything a mere person can do.
Because of David’s certainty in that truth, his heart and mind are set wholly on the Lord,
Vs. 4 “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: 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 inquire in his temple.”
One thing! David has glimpsed God's magnificent glory, causing all other things to pale in comparison. As a result, he desires Yahweh more than he desires a life of ease or anything else. That doesn’t mean he leads a perfect life. On the contrary, David abuses his power and makes grave choices, fracturing his family and causing great harm to others. Sometimes even leading to the death of his own children. Yet, God called David a man after his own heart. How can this be? Perhaps because, despite David’s deep flaws, at his core, he is captivated by and devoted to Yahweh. God’s beauty, majesty, glory, and delightfulness have been evident through both David's tragedies and triumphs. And as a result, David’s sole desire is to dwell in the presence of his God forever.
Vs. 5-6: “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me night upon a rock.”
The imagery in these verses reveals what’s behind David’s faith—a God who can and will protect and care for his children. This is the rock-solid foundation of our hope!
The Lord, your God, will:
Hide you in his shelter where none can harm you
Conceal you in a secret place where none can find you
Set you upon a high place where none can reach you
In light of all of this, David proclaims his confident hope in God’s future deliverance,
Vs. 6 “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD” (emphasis mine).
David is committed to praising the Lord because of who he is, all he has done, and all he will do for David. He doesn’t praise only when the situation is resolved but in the midst of it. While David has witnessed the Lord do great things for him, he is still waiting for rescue from his current troubles, which leads to his petition in verses 7-12:
“Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’ Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.”
Though David spent the first six verses proclaiming God’s faithfulness, he is suffering real threats and injury at the hands of others. And so he cries out to Yahweh as his strong helper, deliverer, and refuge. He continues to seek the Lord and trust in his goodness. Even if those who are supposed to love and care for him turn their backs on him. Even when others spread lies about him. He doesn’t turn his back on the Lord because of his circumstances, feeling the Lord has been unfair. Instead, he turns his face to the Lord, trusting that Yahweh will show him kindness and mercy.
As king of Israel, David has all of the resources of his kingdom at his disposal. He could have his enemies imprisoned, exiled, or even killed. And yet, he relies on the Lord rather than his own resources. My favorite part of this passage is in verse 9 when David says, “You who have been my help.” This simple phrase grounds us in the constant reality of who God has been, is, and always will be—our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1)! This is what leads David to call out to Yahweh for aid:
I need you.
Hear my cries.
Be gracious to me.
Don’t turn your back on me.
Don’t abandon me.
Show me the way to go.
Don’t let harm done to me go unnoticed.
His cries may sound similar to yours. I know they sound similar to mine! Although none of us possess the vast resources available to King David, we are resource-rich compared to much of the world. While this is a great blessing, it can also be a double-edged sword. Our wealth and resourcefulness can sometimes obscure our need and push us towards self-reliance. Yet, our loving Father, who desires and delights to provide for his children, eagerly awaits us with open arms!
Ultimately, David is holding God to his word—that he has promised to be found by all who seek his face! All of this leads David to a final profession of faith and an appeal to his own soul in verses 13-14:
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
David makes a profession of faith — he BELIEVES that he will see the Lord’s goodness and that God will act according to his proven character. So, in light of that, he preaches to himself, “Wait! Wait on the Lord!” In essence, David says to himself (and to us), “God is good and faithful. You don’t have to take matters into your own hands. You can trust him to provide all you need. Just wait for him to act on your behalf. He will do it!”
But how can wait on the Lord with confident hope when this world continues to deal blow after blow? When we suffer cruelty, callousness, or marginalization? Or when we’ve experienced significant loss? How can we proclaim God’s faithfulness then? How can we trust that he has not only been our help in the past but that we can also count on him to be our light, salvation, and stronghold in the present and future?
We have confident hope because the Lord provided Christ as our light, salvation, and stronghold (vs. 1). In Christ, a light shone in the darkness—illuminating us with his wisdom, shining the light on evil, and providing us with hope, comfort, and direction. He rescued us from our enemies—slavery to sin, the curse of death, and the spiritual forces of darkness who wish to harm us. And he provided Christ as our stronghold—the impenetrable fortress within whom we are hidden—and no weapons formed against us will ultimately prosper. The enemy dealt mortal blows against the fortress, and though it was gravely wounded, it did not fall. And now we can rest secure within the walls of Christ’s sacrificial love.
Love you guys,
If you’d like to explore this further, schedule some time to work through the following exercises.
Read Psalm 27 in a couple of different translations. Then answer the following questions:
In verses 1-3, David expresses his confidence and trust in God. What reasons does he give for his confident hope?
David describes God as light, salvation, and a stronghold in this psalm. Which of these descriptions resonates with you most? Why do you think that is?
What one thing did David say he desires? Why do you think that is?
Explore Your Story:
Where do you turn in trying times (stress, fear, anger, relational conflict, financial distress, etc.)? What resources do you lean on?
David says to the Lord, “You who have been my help.” In what ways throughout your life has God been your help?
How could reflecting on God’s past faithfulness provide you with confident hope in your current circumstances?
Following David’s pattern of proclamation, petition, profession, and preaching to his soul, write out your own prayer of faith to Jesus. Here is a rough outline to help get you started
Proclamation: Begin by declaring to Jesus how he has met your needs (whether spiritual, emotional, physical).
Petition: Tell Jesus your circumstances and express your need for his aid.
Professes: Your faith in Jesus’ goodness and trustworthiness.
Preach: In light of who Jesus is and what he has done for you specifically, what reminder does your soul need to hear? Write it as your closing.
Write out the following as a personal reminder and repeat it to yourself during difficult times:
Christ is my stronghold.
He hides me in his shelter where none can harm me.
He conceals me in a secret place where none can find me.
He sets me upon a high place where none can reach me.
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