A Psalm of David
1 The 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?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
4 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.
5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me: He shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy: I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face: my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not Thy face far from me: put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been my help: leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Given the worst possible scenario, we will rest in God’s promises and hide in His pavilion of protection.
The psalm expresses a spirit of confidence and almost reckless hope in God. Enemies attack and falsely accuse us. Fear looms over us. We are forsaken by friends and, in some cases, by our own parents. In spite of these horrendous trials, the Psalmist determinedly seeks God’s presence. He presses his way through all opposition into the temple of his God to offer sacrifices of joy and to sing praises to Yahweh. Thus, he speaks of the strength of his faith, but it is not a faith invulnerable to attack. A cry for help emerges from a heart that faces oppression, “Oh, don’t ever leave me, Lord!” Could God leave us in the day of our deepest need? Again, with sincere faith, we tell the Lord that we are counting on Him. The psalm ends with another statement of faith and an admonition to wait on the Lord and to take courage. Faith is willing to wait.
Verses 1–3. Every step you take in life must be taken in a spirit of confidence. Yet fear of men, fear of failure, and fear of circumstances can stop us in our tracks. David is faced with the temptation to fear, so here he reminds himself of his relationship with Yahweh. Even in a worst-case scenario, where thousands of troops are surrounding him and aggressively hateful enemies press in to destroy him, he will not even flinch in fear. Here is an amazing confession! It is either the worst of foolish impudence or it is the best demonstration of inextinguishable, steadfast faith in God to be found anywhere.
The reason David will not fear his enemies is his iron-clad confidence in God. He trusts in God’s truth (or light) and salvation. Whereas the humanist looks to himself for truth and salvation, the Christian relies on God to define truth and to provide salvation. It is only when we look to God for these things that we gain our confidence for life. Here is the difference between self-confidence and God-confidence. Man, by nature, wants to act out of confidence in himself. We must act out of confidence in God. As far as we have God’s truth in our hearts, we can live deliberately and act decisively. And as far as we are relying on God’s salvation, we need not be consumed with guilt when we do fail. Our confidence is in God’s light and saving grace.
Verses 4–6. The secret to such confidence is found in these verses. David is a man of worship. Such faith does not arise from a man who has not set his heart upon his God. He loves to seek after the Lord, especially in the temple or house of God. References to the temple or tabernacle should be taken as “the church,” as Paul presents it in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “You all are the temple of God.”
David hides himself in this tabernacle. It is clear from verse 5 that the church and its public worship provide protection for God’s people. Absenting oneself from the body of the church is the quickest way to be overcome by the enemies of the soul. In fact, when one is excommunicated from the church, he or she is turned over to Satan for the torment of the body—fearful words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:5. However, when we commit ourselves to the worship of God and the body of Christ in the visible church, our souls are fortified with strength. God sets us upon a rock. He lifts our heads above our enemies round about us, a symbol that indicates victory or gaining the upper hand over our enemies.
It is also in the temple where he beholds the beauty of Yahweh. There he offers sacrifices of joy and sings praises to God for His great salvation and protection.
Verses 7–12. Now we move from the preaching found in the first six verses to prayer in this second set. It is a prayer for God’s help. The prayer is based in faith and the testimony of confidence found in the first six verses. Thus, we find that worship is intermixed with faith statements and prayers that God might increase our faith. Even as we preach and witness to God’s salvation, we can leave the impression that we are, of ourselves, strong and invulnerable in our faith. But in prayer, we acknowledge our weakness and our dependence upon God.
So David cries out for God’s mercy. In faith, he professes that his heart is centered on the face of Yahweh. He beseeches the Lord not to turn away His face from His servant. He petitions the Lord not to leave him or forsake him, and then quickly affirms the Lord’s care for him even though his own mother and father may forsake him. One can hardly think of anything worse than having his own parents desert him. But everything would be alright if God was still with him.
He concludes the prayer with a petition for the Lord’s guidance and protection in the face of attack. Evidently, enemies have risen up and they bring false accusations against him. This sort of thing happens regularly to righteous men in leadership, whether they are in the church or the state. Among the Devil’s strategies against the godly are confusion, deceit, and discouragement. In the maelstrom of these attacks, the believer loses clarity and confidence in his steps. Therefore, David cries out to God that He make his path clear and deliver him from the malevolent designs of these enemies.
Verses 13–14. The psalm ends with another testimony and an exhortation. David would have fainted for fear in the face of enemies like Goliath, Saul, Shimei, Absalom, or the Devil himself, had it not been for his faith. He truly believed and hoped that God’s goodness would prevail, not only after life—in heaven—but in this life as well. He exhorts himself and all God’s people to wait patiently on the Lord in the day of trial. Even as baby birds wait with their mouths wide open, expecting their mother to bring them some good, life-sustaining morsel of food, so we will wait on the Lord. Our lives should be so characterized by this expectant waiting on God, thoroughly convinced that God is good and He will visit us with His goodness. This is faith. We will look to Him, and keep on looking to Him in faith, confident that He will strengthen us, deliver us, and provide for us in the day of trouble.
Our confidence is in God’s truth and salvation. God’s Word is a light to our paths, and if we are going to live in that confidence, we must hide that truth in our hearts. Scripture memorization and meditation are crucial for the life of the Christian. As we grow more mature and influential in the faith, we will see more attacks from enemies. Times like these require fervent prayer, such as the prayer we find in this psalm. Only God can give us the wisdom and direction we need to make it through these attacks and respond properly. We must keep our eyes focused on God all of the time. Christians are not self-confident. They are God-confident.
Worship includes testimonies of faith in God interspersed with faith-filled prayers to God. Here is a simple example illustrating such worship:
“The Lord is my strength. He will save me from a thousand enemies.” (Faith)
“Help me, Oh Lord! I’m going through a tough trial right now.” (Petition)
“I know You will help me. You are my Savior and Rock.” (Faith)
“Help me, Lord! Lead me in the way I should go.” (Petition)
We conclude from the psalms that worship is interspersed with statements of our faith in God.
1. Give four examples of Faith psalms.
2. If unbelievers are self-confident, what should we be?
3. What are the two kinds of addresses that David weaves together in this psalm?
4. What does it mean to lift your head above your enemies?
5. According to verses 4 through 6, where does David find protection, sacrifices of joy, and strength?
6. Which psalm begins with, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”?
1. Are you ever afraid? What do you fear? From this psalm, what do you think is the best way to overcome your fear?
2. How has God helped you in the past? Has He delivered you in the time of trouble?
3. Make your own faith statement—a one-sentence testimony that acknowledges your trust in God.