The Lord Our Light and Salvation
Staggering depravity and lies confront us daily. Like Daniel, we should blush and be ashamed over our sins, deeply embarrassed by the sins of our people (Dan. 9:5-14). To lose the ability to blush should horrify us (Jer. 6:15; 8:12). It is sign of a “seared conscience,” branded by wickedness (1 Tim. 4:2), hardened and scabbed over by so much contagion that it can no longer discern right from wrong. Unless God redeems that man or people, it will descend lower into the abyss of sin. “But evil men and seducers (deceivers, imposters) shall go from bad to worse, deceived and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
The apostle’s next words tell us what to do when we are surrounded by shameless men. “But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them” (v. 14). This is our guide in these times. He will deal with his enemies. We deal with them not by anger and frustration but by faithfulness and patience. “In patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might obtain the promise” (Heb. 10:36). “I know your work, your labor, and your patience” (Rev. 2:2). “Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10). “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). Neither our Savior nor his apostles encouraged us to find out who started all this and who is to blame, to live bitter and angry at our troubles, but to continue. In what?
The Scriptures! We have living bread, a powerful weapon, the sword of the Spirit by which we shall live and overcome. Psalm 27 shows us the path of patience, the remedy for our many fears and agitations. Unbelief is what has darkened our land and invited the hordes of ungodly men to creep from their hiding places and parade their vile deeds in public. Unbelief brings darkness and death, but the Lord is our light and salvation (v. 1). There is light in Goshen, in the church of our blessed Savior, while all Egypt lies in darkness. Because he is our light – his presence, his word, and his covenant – we need not fear. The hosts of hell are impotent before God’s light (vv. 2-3). Faith in him will overcome (1 John 5:4).
This is not because we are strong but because God is our strength (v. 1). We are in a war, and ungodly men, with Satan as their head, scheme and fight against God and his Christ (Ps. 2:2-3; 2 Tim. 2:26)). They must crash against the wall of God’s providence and presence and promises. We must therefore be confident (v. 3), not in ourselves or in man’s institutions, but in the Lord of Hosts who fights for us. More are for us than are for them. When God’s enemies threaten and circumstances overwhelm, he is leading us to cling more tightly to him. This is fear’s cure and confidence – when we desire the Lord (v. 4), worship and serve him, keep his beauty (his kindness and delightfulness) before the eye of faith, and seek him in his temple. Fear grows when we do not trust in him as our strength and our light.
Worship feeds faith and therefore fearlessness. In troubled times, we have a “pavilion,” a lair, a booth of protection – God’s own presence. He will hide us there (Ps. 36:7; 57:1; 91:1). We now have his indwelling Spirit in whose fellowship we shall learn the truth and power of God’s hiding us (v.5). Upon this rock – God our light and salvation in his living temple with his saints – we shall overcome every enemy. Some want a pitched battle to settle everything at once, but this is not usually God’s way, especially not in the new covenant. As we offer thanksgiving and praise in his living temple, he lifts us up (v. 6) with his encouragements and strength that we have in union with Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. This assumes that we heed his call to seek his mercy and to pray (vv. 7-8). Trials and troubles are God’s call to seek and to worship him. There is overcoming strength here of which the world knows nothing. God is with the righteous; he guards us with unceasing vigilance.
But our conscience is grieved over our sins, as Daniel was (9:3-14). David expresses the same when he pleads: “Hide not your face far from me; put not your servant away in anger” (Ps. 27:9). In times of trouble, the godliest are troubled by their sins. They do not doubt the Lord, but in their pleas, they do not lose sight of his holiness and their transgressions. He is a reconciled God through Jesus and willing to forgive. This does not create presumption in the redeemed but deep contrition, a willingness to be corrected, and conviction of the need for chastening. Faith then lays hold of his mercy. “You have been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” He has saved us and made us his own; he will never leave us. Not even our sins can separate us from his grace and love (Rom. 8:35-37). Guilt cannot quench faith; mercy silences guilt because it removes it through the cross. No matter what, faith lays hold of God’s promise – closest family may forsake, but God never will (v. 10). This is the unconquerable citadel of hope. God is merciful, and he is faithful. He is the God of our salvation, of our mercy, and of our life. The worst trials bring us back to him as our shield and anchor.
And so we pray, trusting his mercy. “Teach me your way, Lord, and lead me in a plain path” (v. 11). The more evil the times, the more committed we must become to repenting and obeying the God of our salvation. “It is time for you to work, Lord, for they have made void your law. Therefore, I love your commandments above gold…Therefore I esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:126-128). Evil men go from bad to worse; godly men go from grace to grace, strength to strength, glory to glory (John 1:16; Ps. 84:7; 2 Cor. 3:18). This is not straight line progress, for the “just man falls seven times, but the Lord raises him up” (Prov. 24:16). It is by the power of God indwelling by his Spirit, working in us persistent, lifelong crying to God, chastening our soul every morning (Ps. 73:14), and trusting his steadfast mercy (Ps. 28:7).
Let us plead for his deliverance (Ps. 27:12). Whatever else we should do to serve God and resist evil with our individual gifts and callings, we are united in asking God to deliver us – “because of our enemies” (v. 11), because of the many false witnesses who lie against God’s word (v. 12), because of those who “breathe out cruelty” (v. 12). As with David, so with us – they are too many for us. They are not too many for God. But we must learn daily supplication for God to be glorified in our lives and in the world. Only he can make men thoroughly displeased with themselves so that they might seriously aspire to him. He must deliver us from our fears and sins. He must deliver his church from her many enemies. He will deliver, for he must exalt his Son (Isa. 9:6-7; Phil. 2:9-11). He has promised. His enthroned Son is worthy, and he must reign at his Father’s right hand until all his enemies are subdued.
And what weak means – in the eyes of the world – he uses to bring this about. We look for the dramatic and the sudden. Sometimes, he does this, and he will do it again, for this is his battle, and he will frustrate the counsels of the wicked. He also works daily in response to our faith. He would have us believe that he is good and that we will see his good (Ps. 27:13). We must wear “the helmet of the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). Hope saves us (Rom. 8:24) because it keeps us from fainting. Hope expects the Lord to help us, for our lives are in God’s hands. He has redeemed us, and the safety of the church depends not upon weak men but upon his covenant. We and our children are safe in this battle as we believingly pray to the God of our life and abide in his word.
This is what it means to wait upon him (v. 14): to trust his promises, pray day and night for the earth to be filled with his glory, his enemies scattered, his saints gathered, unified, and sanctified, and the righteous kingdom of his Son grow to fill the earth (Dan. 2:44-45). Waiting upon the Lord in humble, repent, trusting prayer is what gives courage in an evil day – not fear, bluster, despair, or worry. These are Satan’s tools, not God’s (James 1:20). He is our strength, and we must learn what this means. Call out loud upon him when you are tempted to fear. Hide his word in your heart and pray the word of his patience back to him. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Waiting is not a passive posture. Waiting is the hope that God will do us good, that his purposes for us are good, and not evil (Jer. 29:11). Waiting brings us into the courts of the great and holy King. Waiting is presenting ourselves to him as his servants, hearing his orders, and seeking grace to do them (Rom. 6:13). As attendants upon his majesty, worshipping him, making our pleas to him, and seeking his kingdom, we expect him to answer, help, and defend – in the world, in our families, in our churches. This is his name. “The God who hears and answers prayer” (Ps. 65:2). His light will never fail to chase away the darkness in our soul and in the world. His enemies cannot endure the light. He may delay long, but he will avenge those who cry to him day and night. Jesus Christ our Lord promises (Luke 18:7).