Psalm 27 My Light and My Salvation

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Of David.

1The Lord is my light and my salvation,
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life,
Of whom shall I be afraid?

2When scoundrels come upon me
To devour my flesh,
They will stumble and fall,
Those adversaries and foes.

3Though a host should encamp against me,
My heart shall not quiver;
Even if a war should rise against me,
I still shall be full of confidence.

4One thing only shall I desire from the Lord,
That I would seek after:
May I dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in his temple.

5For he will hide me in his booth
On the day of trouble;
He will conceal me inside his tent;
He will lift me up, high on a rock.
6And then my heart will rise
Above the foes who surround me.
I will offer in his tent
Sacrifices of joyful shouts.

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7Listen, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
Be gracious unto me, and answer me!
8Thou hast said, Seek ye my face!
My heart says to thee,
Thy face, O Lord, do I seek.
9Hide not thy face from me!

Thou hast been my help; do not cast me off!
And forsake me not, God of my salvation.
10My father and mother might forsake me,
But then the Lord would take me in.
11Teach me thy way, O Lord!
And lead me to a smooth path,
Because of mine enemies.

12Do not abandon me to the will of my foes!
Because false witnesses have risen against me,
And they breathe out violence.

13I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness
In the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord! Be strong! And let thy heart take courage!
Wait for the Lord!

I don’t know why, I just love chiasms. And apparently there is one here in Psalms 27 as proposed by Terrien:

I. The Light of My Life (v. 1)
II. The Enemies (v. 2)
…… III. My Confidence (v. 3)
……… IV. The Temple (v. 4)
………… V. The Presence (vv. 5-6d)
……… IV’. The Face of God (vv. 6e-9a)
…… III’. My Confidence (vv. 9b-11)
II’. The Enemies (v. 12)
I’. The Goodness of Yahweh (vv. 13-14)

Strophe I: The Light of My Life
Verse 1 is a very comforting affirmation of faith. The light of Yahweh, which the great prophets and other psalmists associate with the salvation of Israel, is celebrated as the forerunning sign of “seeing the face of the Lord” in vv. 7-8.

    Isa 2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
    Mic 7:8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.
Terrien asks if the expression “face of Yahweh” a metaphor, drawn from the human sense of sight, or is it a real symbol of his Presence?
    Psa 4:6 There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
    Psa 89:15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face.
I have time and again uttered this line of Psalm 27 – the Lord is my Light and Salvation, of whom shall I be afraid, and it always reassures me of the sovereignty and the faithfulness of God, no matter what.

Strophe II: The Enemies
The imagery of one’s flesh being devoured is very strong. The very existence of the person is in danger and requires prompt and efficient help.
    Psa 7:2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
    Psa 17:12 He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.
I have not been in such situation of mortal peril, pray that I will not, but it is bad enough to have experience the soul being torn apart (Ps 7:2). Yet he is my Light and my Salvation, of whom or what shall I be afraid.

Strophe III: My Confidence
No matter what happens, my heart shall not quiver, I still shall be full of confidence. Many a times I have to say that aloud to myself and affirm the presence of God in my life.

Strophe IV: The Temple
What is beautiful about this line is the psalmist saying that there is only one thing he desires: that is to dwell in the house of the Lord. I need to always remind myself of that one before I clamour to get more and more things and stuff in my life. O how wonderful it will to always be in the Lord’s house, all our days to worship him – to behold the beauty of the Lord – and to learn of him – to inquire in his temple. What bliss!

Strophe V: The Presence
This is one of the reasons why I like chiasms: it leads me to the apex of the writing. Here it points to the very presence of God – the ultimate and the most desired. Verse 5 speaks of the refuge in God’s presence and verse 6 the joyful celebration of praise in his presence.

Strophe IV’: The Face of God
From the depth of his yearning, the psalmist begs, boldly but humbly, for the vision of the divine face of God. At times, I do feel that God is so far away. But here the psalmist seeks him – in songs and in melody, in cries and in yearning: God is here, Immanuel is his name.

Strophe III’: My Confidence
God is my help. God is my salvation. God is my father. God is my mother. God is my refuge. God is my teacher. God is my guide.

Strophe II’: The Enemies
The psalmist again speaks of the enemies, his troubles, his problems: for they will never go away as long as live sustains here on earth. We all seek for perfection everywhere, in everyone and in everything and more often than not, we will be disappointed. There is only one who is perfect: our Lord Jesus Christ.

Strophe I’: The Goodness of Yahweh
There will always be uncertainties in life. But the Lord’s goodness is surely here for he has revealed himself to us. Meanwhile, we call to each other to wait, to wait, and to wait on him. Help will surely arrive.

Picture by Rayko Swensson

Samuel Terrien, The Psalm, (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 2003): 263-9

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4 comment(s)

  1. OH! That is SOOOO cool!

    I have always been confused when it seemed like the climax of a psalm was in the middle, and not at the end where it belongs. But, this makes it make perfect sense. It's even more "eternal" or "spiritual", because the climax of eternal, spiritual history happens in the middle or even at the beginning, for us.

    2000 years ago, everything about which we could have a doubt for all eternity was resolved. Now we are living out the denoument. We are waiting for God to finish untying the knots of history, but He has proven that He will do so.

    And that is what the V strophe is like. There is still struggle in the X' strophes, but the chiasm structure says that it is a struggle that is already won.

    I've never understood this stuff before. I've only barely heard it mentioned. But, wow! Thanks for posting yet again.

  2. Awesome Maeghan, thanks for the post.

  3. I got exposed to chiasms when I was doing my Intro to OT paper back in 2003. Yeah, it is way cool :)

    What if I suggest that the Pentateuch itself is a chiasm? I discovered that when I did my paper in OT:

    I. Genesis
    ...II. Exodus
    .....III. Leviticus
    ...IV. Numbers
    V. Deuteronomy

    I. the beginning
    II. the people wandering
    III. the apex - the law, the living of life God's way
    IV. the people numbered
    V. the beginning (to enter into a new land)

    To me it is a wonder that the usually "boring" book we thought is the actual apex of the entire Torah. And it is also where the message of the Lamb of God is fulfilled in Jesus.

    God bless!

  4. That's a great way to look at the Torah. I don't know why my earlier comment said anonymous... I must have been daydreaming.