Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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?
Psalm 27 is a psalm of David.
From the psalm itself it is evident that David was facing great danger from his enemies.
These enemies could well have been Absalom and the many in Israel who followed him in rebellion against David.Psalm 3 was written in connection with David’s flight from Absalom. Some see verse 5 of that psalm to express a thought similar to the thrust of Psalm 27: “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.”
Some suggest that verse 10 links this psalm with I Samuel 22:3, 4, which records David’s bringing of his parents to Moab for safekeeping because of the threats of King Saul. They translate verse 10, “For my father and mother have left me; but the Lord will take me up.”
Whether or not it was one of these situations that occasioned the writing of the psalm, it is evident from the psalm itself that David was facing great danger from his enemies.
The theme of this psalm is expressed in verse 1, which we consider for this meditation, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
David makes a confession here. He confesses that the Lord (Jehovah) is his light and salvation, the strength of his life. Notice what is not David’s light and salvation: his army, his alliances with foreign powers, his wealth, or his earthly counselors. Jehovah is his light and salvation. Therefore he is not afraid. Even though an army is encamped against him to eat up his flesh, he is not afraid. David can make this bold confession because Jehovah is his light and salvation.
This confession must also be ours as we make our way through life confronted by many enemies, essentially the same enemies that faced David.
A Terrible Darkness
The fact that David confesses Jehovah to be his light suggests that David faced a situation that was dark and foreboding.
In the Bible darkness is often a figure of distress and danger, whereas light is a figure of deliverance and relief from distress. This is evident from the contrast made between light and darkness in Job 30:26: “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.”
It was a very dark day for David.
In verses 2 and 3 of this psalm David speaks of his enemies. From these verses we learn that his enemies were the wicked. There was a host (army) of them that made war with him. They came upon him to eat up his flesh.
Who were these enemies? David’s enemies were physical in nature, perhaps King Saul andarmy or David’s own son Absalom and the hordes of Israelites that followed Absalom.
But these enemies were primarily spiritual in nature. The psalm identifies them as the wicked. They hated and opposed David for righteousness’ sake. Interestingly, these enemies were most likely of the nation of Israel, the covenant people of God. Here we see again that the church on earth is often dominated by a large reprobate element. And behind these wicked enemies of David was Satan, the prince of darkness.
The intent of David’s enemies was to destroy him. They sought to destroy him personally. They also sought to destroy him as the Lord’s anointed. By destroying David they hoped to destroy the very covenant that Jehovah had with Israel.
When David faced these enemies, it was a dark day. His enemies were far superior in strength and resources. It appeared that David’s life was over and the cause of the covenant in jeopardy.
The darkness that descended on David’s life often descends on our lives as well.
We face the same spiritual enemies that David did. The devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). He hates the living God. He hates the Lord’s anointed, Jesus Christ. And therefore he hates us—the people of God’s covenant. His desire is to destroy us spiritually. He would destroy our faith, rob us of our salvation, and bring us under his own control again. His ultimate goal is to destroy the cause and covenant of Jehovah.
At Satan’s disposal is the world of the ungodly that is under his control and in his service. Through them Satan attacks us without ceasing. These attacks come in many different forms. Satan attacks us through his the alluring temptations of sin’s pleasures. He attacks us through false doctrine. He attacks us through persecution.
This brings many dark hours to our lives. There are times when we are on the point of being overwhelmed with temptation and sin. There are times when the very existence of the church is threatened by heresy. There are times of terrible persecution when the cause of God seems to be lost. There are times of sickness, loss, or tragedy that the devil uses to bring us to the point of despair because it appears as though God has forgotten us and there is no hope.
A Saving Light
In this dark hour David confesses, “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Jehovah is the strength of my life.”
Jehovah is the covenant name of God. It emphasizes that He is the faithful covenant God of power. This covenant is a relationship of friendship and fellowship that Jehovah establishes with His people and in which He lives and dwells with His people in blessing. David knew Jehovah as his God. He knew that he belonged to Jehovah’s covenant. It is this covenant that the powers of darkness ultimately seek to destroy as they attack the people of God.
This Jehovah David acknowledges to be his light and salvation.
Light is here defined by David as salvation or deliverance. David confesses that in the time of darkness and trouble Jehovah is his light, that is, his salvation.
This is further explained in that Jehovah is the strength of his life.
Jehovah is David’s light and salvation exactly because He is the strength of David’s life.
Certainly, Jehovah was the strength of David’s life. He was the One who strengthened David in every situation of life so that David could do battle with his enemies and either defend himself or overcome his enemies. This was true as David faced the jealous King Saul, who sought his life to preserve his family-dynasty in Israel. This was true repeatedly in David’s battles with the Philistines and other nations. This was also true in his battle with Absalom. Jehovah was the strength of David’s life.
By strengthening David against his enemies, Jehovah was David’s light and salvation in the darkest hours of his life.
Jehovah is also our light and salvation, the strength of our life.
He is that because He first is the light and salvation of Jesus Christ.
We must see David as the type or picture of Jesus Christ. David was the Lord’s anointed, appointed by God to be king and thus the defender of Israel and the covenant. As such he is a picture of the Lord’s Anointed, appointed by Jehovah to be the Defender and Savior of the church of all ages.
To accomplish our salvation, Jesus Christ was subjected to the darkest of hours. He was required to bear all the punishment of hell for the elect of God and to do so in one short lifetime, especially on the cross. The cross alone could defeat the devil and the hold he has on the church. Even though Jesus is the Son of God in our flesh, the cross was the terribly dark hour that He dreaded all His life long.
But Jehovah was His light and salvation, the strength of His life. Jehovah repeatedly strengthened Jesus as the dark hour of the cross approached. He did so with expressions of approval from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He did so at the Mount of Transfiguration by giving Jesus a foretaste of the glory that awaited Him. He did so in the Garden of Gethsemane through the angel that encouraged Jesus. And during the darkness of the cross, Jehovah strengthened Jesus even though Jesus Himself lost sight of that help, crying out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
In Jesus Christ Jehovah is also our light and salvation, the strength of our life.
Through Jesus Christ Jehovah strengthens us as we face the onslaughts of the devil, so that we can defend ourselves, overcome him, and one day emerge victorious. Jehovah is the strength of our life when we are tempted, when we are persecuted, as well as when heresy threatens.
What a great light!
What wondrous salvation!
A Wonderful Confidence
Because Jehovah is his light and salvation, David is without fear in the dark hour that confronts him.
David asks, “whom shall I fear? of whom shall I be afraid?” These are rhetorical questions through which David expresses that he is afraid of and trembles before none of his enemies. He is not afraid, even though from a human point of view defeat looks sure and all appears to be lost.
Stated positively, David has absolute confidence of safety and victory as he faces his many enemies.
David had this confidence because Jehovah was his light and salvation. Were anyone or anything else his light and salvation, he could not have had this confidence. But David had come to know Jehovah as his light and salvation. And so in this dark hour that confronts him, David has turned to Jehovah, the strength of his life. With Jehovah as his light and salvation, David has no fear.
The same is true for us.
With Jehovah as our light and salvation, the strength of our life, we have no fears. In Jesus Christ Jehovah saves us in every situation of life. He will strengthen us to fight every battle. This is true now and will be true to the very end of history—even during the dark days of the Antichrist that will come.
In order that we may face the dark hours of danger with no fear let us turn to Jehovah as our light and salvation. Should we seek our light and salvation elsewhere, we will be left with the fear of defeat and destruction. But with Jehovah as our light and salvation in Jesus Christ, we will have no fear.