Is My Light and My Salvation
#1. What Will I Seek After? (Psalm 27:4, Heb 10:7)
#2. Hear, O Lord, I Call, and Favor Me (Psalm 27:7-9, II Cor 12:9, Rom -28)
#3. Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord (Psalm 27:11-14)
Please open your Bibles to Psalm 27:1 (2X). God wrote to us, through the pen of David, a beautiful psalm addressing the subjects of faith and fear. This Psalm is a declaration of the trust and confidence we have in Christ, in the midst of dangers of persecution and tumults of war. Presently our country is preparing for war, and at the same time the whole world is in the middle of a deep recession. Should we fear the uncertainty of the near future? Should we fear Saddam, or fear Bush?
Psalm 27:1 ¶ <A Psalm of David.> 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?
When we read in the OT the words "The LORD" with all four letters capitalized "LORD", it stands for the Hebrew word "Jehovah", which means, "I AM". We do not have a different God in the OT than we have in the NT. From the NT we learn that God the Father is Jehovah, the Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah, and God the Holy Spirit is Jehovah, and all three are one God, Jehovah. The title of today's sermon is "Jehovah is My Light and My Salvation". What do we mean by that? It means that the Lord Jesus Christ is our light in this world. The Lord Jesus said: "I Am", notice the words "I Am". "I Am the Light of the world". In other words, "I am your light in this world. I am not a light for the world of the Reprobate, but I am the light for the world of the Elect." Now how is Christ, who is also the Word of God, functioning as our light? We read in Psalm 119, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". This is pointing to the Word of God, the Bible, which tells us what the essence of the Gospel of salvation is. Here in the Bible God tells us that every human being is born as a slave of Sin and Satan, and because of our sins we all are on our way to condemnation, which means we are on the way to Hell. Therefore every human being is in need of salvation from this slippery slide into Hell. Being baptized in water does not save people, but the almighty hand of God saves people, by giving them faith in Jesus Christ. Here in this Psalm we see that David has such a lively faith in God, and we see how David glories in God's holy name, and we see how David glories in God's interest in David. Does God give this faith to everyone? No! God gives it to everyone who asks for it, but nobody asks for it out of his own initiative. That is how we humans are. Therefore God must draw us to Jesus, and then we will plead for mercy, and then God will give us faith and save us. Will everyone be drawn to Jesus? No! God only draws those whom He chose to be saved: His Elect. Now, when we see in us such a faith, which is obviously the work of God, then "Whom shall I fear?" If God has chosen to be on my side, then "Of whom shall I be afraid?" If I can see that I am one of God's children because He has given me this faith, then I can be confident that the Lord is my light and my salvation.
We are subject to trials because we have enemies. But we see that fear is an unworthy element in the life of a saint. However, we still live in an imperfect body, and that is why we still struggle with fears. Therefore, to build up our faith we shall ask ourselves:
#1. What Will I Seek After? (2X) (Psalm 27:4, Heb 10:7). We read in verse 4,
Psalm 27:4 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.
Should this verse be interpreted literally? No! David
did not dwell all the time in the tent of the Ark of the Covenant. Even the
priests did not dwell all the time in the sanctuary. This verse should be interpreted
spiritually. How do we spiritually dwell in the house of the Lord? What
is that dwelling place? Where is the place where Christ can be found? This
is again pointing to the Bible. The Lord Jesus said in Heb 10:7,
"Lo, I come, in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, to do Thy
will, O God". The Lord Jesus Christ is found on the pages of the
Bible. If God indeed has drawn us to Christ, then there is where
we meet Him and there is where we want to dwell all the days of our
life. There is where we behold the God of the Covenant of Grace. There
is where we read about His grace, and His mercy, and His wisdom, and His love,
and His goodness, which is seen and experienced by His people. There
is where He teaches us about His love and there is where He creates in
us a love for Him and a love for our fellow believers. We study the
Bible and while we are driving, or walking, or bicycling, or lying in bed, we meditate
on the words in the Bible. And we do that because we cannot enough behold the
beauty of the Lord. Let's face it; did the Roman soldiers see any
beauty in the man they nailed to the cross? He was wearing a bloody crown of
thorns. He was bleeding from His head, He was bleeding from
His back, and He was bleeding from His hands and His feet. The two
thieves crucified next to Him were also bleeding from their hands and
feet. The smell of death hung over that place called
Psalm 27:5 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.
In the time of trouble He shall hide me. Who is in control of the trouble? God is! God has a purpose for bringing the troubles my way. And where is Christ going to hide me? How can He hide me and at the same time set me up upon a rock for all to see? Can you see that this verse also has to be interpreted spiritually? Where is the secret place of His tabernacle? Spiritually it is a place where my enemies cannot touch me. Since they do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God, they cannot come to the spiritual heights where Christ has set my soul. They cannot come to the spiritual heights of the Rock, which is Jesus Christ. We know that the Rock represents Christ because God refers to the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel in I Cor 10:4, where He says, "And all did drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ". God referred here to the time when the children of Israel needed water, and God commanded Moses to smite the Rock, and out of it came water abundantly. We are protected from our enemies, because "our life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:3), but at the same time Christ has lifted us up and we are a fountain of living water to all those who desire to drink from the water of life.
What is this abundant life? There are three aspects of this abundant life that I want to touch on today. First, we must believe the certainty that all these troubles that weigh us down presently shall be overcome. If Christ is on our side, then we shall be victorious over these problems. You must apply these principles to your own individual situations. Enemies around us may trouble us. Or our troubles may be self-inflicted. For example, we may have a fear of not being a good enough father or mother, or we may have a fear of not being a good enough Sunday School teacher, or we may have a fear of germs, or we may have a fear of looking ridiculous, or we may have a fear of getting married, or we may have a fear of remaining unmarried. Why are we so guilt ridden and fearful? It is because we do not realize the love of God in the glory of the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ says that we are forgiven, and that remains unchangeable for the person who has believed it. This is what makes a person want to witness because he knows he is forgiven. I am really forgiven because God says that I am forgiven. Isn't it amazing that people are not enthused about this? Now you can understand why God hates indifference. And that after all that He has done for us!
That brings me to the second aspect of the abundant life. Some people try to live on the ragged edge of what is called the lifestyle of a believer and the lifestyle of an unsaved person. This too is a burden that is weighing them down. They constantly have an eye on the law: Can I do it, or may I not do it? And it brings with it the burden of the uncertainty of being saved or not saved. Look at yourself and see if you are not ashamed of yourself for not bringing more enthusiasm to the cause of Christ and to the church for which He died. We do not have to watch out for ourselves. Christ does that already and He does that better than we can. But we can be of service to others by letting Him use
our hands and our feet and our mouth. Then we will live a happy and fulfilled life, an abundant life.
That brings me to the third aspect of the abundant life, and that is in verse 6.
Psalm 27:6 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.
What are sacrifices of joy? What a sacrifice? A sacrifice is something offered sacrificially of something that is costly. It means that it must cost me something. King David said: "I will not offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which cost me nothing". Now the next step: What is His tabernacle? It is the tent of meeting. In the NT time it is the church, which is the tent of meeting. Then why did David say: "I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy"? It means that the sacrifice he gave in the tent of meeting brought him great joy. So much so that it led him to singing. That is why we read in verse 6, "I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD". In the NT time it means that we give our money to the church, and we give our time, and we give our talents, and we do it all with great joy, "for God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Cor 9:7). Remember what Saul of Tarsus said when Christ struck him down on the road to Damascus? "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" The church is a body of volunteers. Each one of us should be doing something for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. But if we work together as one body we will be more effective than if we would work each one on our own. That is the more abundant life. These are all things that we must learn and grow into. We do not begin as perfect Christians. We all must grow in grace. That is why this Psalm continues with:
#2. Hear, O Lord, My Voice; I Call, and Favor Me (Psalm 27:7-9, II Cor 12:9, Rom 8:26-28)
Psalm 27:7 ¶ Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
Psalm 27:8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
Psalm 27:9 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.
Let us first iron out a few technical difficulties in the translation. Verse 7 says literally: "Hear, O Lord, my voice; I call, and favor me, and answer me". And verse 8 says literally: "My heart said unto Thee, "Seek Thou my face". Thy face, LORD, will I seek". Verse 7 seems to be a plea for mercy, but it really is a plea for grace. God's favor is actually God's grace, because grace is God's unmerited favor. Do we all remember the difference between mercy and grace? Grace means receiving from God something that we do not deserve, and mercy means God is withholding from us something that we do deserve. We should not mix up the meaning of these two different concepts.
When we read in verse 7 "Hear, O Lord, my voice; I call, and favor me, and answer me", it is a plea for God's continuing grace, so that we may continue to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". We plead for God's grace in the difficulties we are going through. And God's answer is: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor 12:9). God's pledge is that He will give His grace to steer us through the difficulties that He is throwing our way. Quite often we are so absorbed by our present problems that we fail to recognize how God's grace has already helped us in the past. God's grace was there for us in those instances when He has carried us through many difficulties, and should He abandon us now? No way!
Please hold one finger in Psalm 27 and turn to the Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 8:26 (2X). You find Romans after the Acts of the Apostles. Romans is the first in a series of letters of the Apostle Paul. Here in Rom 8:26 is the subject of prayer addressed. We pray, and pray, and pray, not realizing that God is already in the process of answering our prayers. We read in Rom 8:26,
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
We should be comforted by this passage. God knows that we do not know how to pray, as we ought to pray. But the Holy Spirit, who is also God Himself, intercedes for us, and God answers our prayers speedily. Does God answer prayers? We have a difficult time understanding that. God knows what we need even before we ask of Him. Do we realize that prayer and God's response to prayer are actions in time and history? Does God know the end from the beginning? He would not be God if God does not know the end from the beginning. Do we then change the plans of God with our prayers? No! We must recognize that God from before the foundation of the world already anticipated that we would pray at a particular moment in time and what we would pray for. God already knows that, and God has His response for us ready. But if God is our Light and our Salvation, if the Almighty is on our side, how can we lose if we would send up our petitions to Him? We cannot lose, no matter how clumsy our prayers may be. And that is why it is so comforting to know that God is for us:
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
If we know that God has done a great work within us, then we belong to those who are the called according to His purpose. Please turn again to Psalm 27. With David we can plead: "Lord, forsake me not for my transgressions". Even my father and my mother will forsake me at some point in time.
Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
For every human being the time will come when earthly relationships are no longer of any use. The time will come when the dearest of earthly friends and relatives can no longer be of any assistance to us. When is that time? When my father and my mother are carried to the grave, that is the time when they have forsaken me. When I die before my father and mother dies, that is the time when they have forsaken me, because they cannot be where I am. But then the Lord will take me up. When worldly comforts end, heavenly comforts begin. Heavenly comforts begin on this earth when:
#3. We Pray: "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" (Psalm 27:11-14)
Psalm 27:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Psalm 27:12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
Psalm 27:13 (I had fainted), unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Lord, teach us Thy way. We pray to God to teach us His way. What is that way? It is the way to have peace with God. It is the way to heaven. Only God can teach us that way. Without the intercession of God the Holy Spirit nobody can lead us to salvation. How does God teach us His way? He leads us through the Bible. He teaches us that His plan of salvation is totally by grace, so that all the glory goes to God. He teaches us that salvation is totally a gift from God. And because it totally depends on God and does not depend on anything that we have done or we are going to do, therefore God must have decided all this before the foundation of the world. God leads us in a straight and level path, in contrast to a dangerous and slippery path laid out by our enemies. Our enemies want us to believe in a works gospel, or in a "do it yourself salvation". But God's warning still stands, that anyone who preaches another Gospel than what we have preached, let him be accursed.
Moreover, God teaches us that we must love one another. O yes! This is also something that we must learn. It is not something we inherit by nature. Our love for one another will show in how we serve one another. Can we pray for God's guidance in this way: "Lord, give me to know my duties for the house of the Lord. Let me not know this by legal maneuvers, but by the plainness of our love for one another that will keep us in the way of our duties".
We pray and we ask God's blessing, but in all this we acknowledge our dependence on the working of God's grace. God will work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, and therefore everything we receive is by God's grace. The last verse says: "Wait on the Lord". Indeed we wait on the Lord by faith and prayer, and we humbly submit to His will. But remember that the title of this sermon is "Jehovah is My Light and My Salvation". Therefore, my heart shall not fear.
The hymn we are going to sing summarizes today's sermon on this Psalm. Let me read to you the 1st, 3rd,and 5th stanzas of Hymn # 48:
Jehovah is my light, and my salvation near; who shall my soul affright, or cause my heart to fear? While God my strength, my life sustains, secure from fear my soul remains.
My one request has been, and still this prayer I raise, that I may dwell within God's house through all my days, Jehovah's beauty to admire, and in His temple to inquire.
Uplifted on a rock above my foes around, amid the battle shock my song shall still resound; then joyful offerings I will bring, Jehovah's praise my heart shall sing.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.