Psalm 27 – Light and Salvation

 June 4, 2024

Psalm 27 begins by proclaiming God as the writer’s light and salvation. What does that mean? What can we learn from Psalm 27 – light and salvation, about our God’s redeeming power and our need for faith?

Psalm 27 – Part One

Psalm 27 is written in two parts. The first part, verses 1-6 speak of confident trust in God who saves. It begins with a dual construction, synonymous parallelism. The two lines have a parallel structure, reinforcing the main theme.

Line 1: The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
Line 2: The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

The psalm goes on to support this premise relating victory in battle:

When the wicked advance against me
to devour
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident
.” (2-3)

The psalmist continues to assert his belief in God who protects and saves:

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock
.” (5)

Psalm 27- Part Two

The second part, verses 7-14 is a lament. The writer cries out to God to hear him:

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.”

The second part ends with words of confident trust:

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
.” (13-14)

The writer is confident that he will see God and encourages others to wait for God, nicely wrapping up the two parts.

Light and Salvation

What does it mean to say the Lord is my light and my salvation? Light helps us see and be aware of our surroundings. It is also used in Scripture as a metaphor for deliverance. It delivers us from the dark and the terrors that lie await in the dark. God’s light saves us.

Madeleine L’Engle, in her book Walking on Water, refers to light as a cloud of darkness, out of which God’s brilliance is covered for we cannot look on the light which is God and survive. “Perhaps it is only the artists who have not forgotten that cloud of brilliance which shines through all Scripture.”  “… When did we last see that light in the sanctuary of our churches, no matter what denomination or affiliation? Perhaps it is there, but we may not recognize it because we are afraid of it. … We are afraid of that which we cannot control; so we continue to draw in the boundaries around us to limit ourselves to what we can know and understand.”  “To be an artist means to approach the light, and that means to let go our control, to allow our whole selves to be placed with absolute faith in that which is greater than we are.” (pp. 160-161)

To walk in God’s light means we let go of our control and put our trust in God. This is the path of salvation.

Whom Shall I Fear?

Psalm 27 confidently states, whom shall I fear? That’s a stumbling block for me. There are some who proclaim, “God’s got this,” in regard to any problem or concern. I don’t have this faith. When I look back over history, there are too many situations where I have to ask, what happened? Where was God? I need only look at the Nazi Holocaust. There is no way I can accept this was somehow God’s will. I don’t believe God willed the destruction of so many innocent Jewish lives. Rather, people, exercising their own free will, allowed this to happen. I do believe that God can bring good out of terrible situations.

And then there’s the genocide in Ruanda, and the current wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. All cases of human will run amok.

So, I can’t sit back and simply trust in God. Instead, I ask, whom shall I fear? A good question.

Old Testament Times

During the time of the Old Testament prophets, the Hebrew people turned away from God and listened to false prophets. Their country was overrun, the Temple destroyed, and their people carried away in captivity, not as punishment for their sins, but as the consequence of their sins. Had they truly been listening to the prophets and their God, following God as their light and salvation, history would have been different.

We are not unlike the Hebrew nation. We have false gods and listen to false prophets. These prophets may proclaim they are speaking for God, but they lack the humility to set aside their own agendas and self-interests to listen to God and admit they might be mistaken.

The lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? People. People who twist God’s words into something they are not and refuse to be led by God’s light.

Psalm 27 – Light and Salvation

Psalm 27 – light and salvation – reminds us that our God is both light and salvation to all who believe. Salvation comes from God. It isn’t enough to say God is our light and our salvation. We must live in that light, walk in its pathways, being led by God. All people need to do this. Only then will there be no reason to fear others.

What does it mean to you to say God is your light and salvation? Who do you fear?

(For another take on this psalm, see Psalm 27: God Lights our Days and Nights – Patricia M Robertson)

This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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