Monday, January 28, 2013

Psalm 27 - Worship in Desperate Times

[Read Psalm 27 here.]

Exegetical Data
We don't know what events in David's life correspond to this event. It may be one of the episodes in his life recorded in the Scriptures, or one of those that are not. The absence of such information, however, does not subtract from the clarity and emotive power of the Psalm.
Lament vs. Laud. Although the Psalm as a whole is triumphal, yet David speaks with two tones: confidence and desperation. He is desparate because of his present circumstances and powerful enemies, but he is confident because of God's covenant faithfulness.
Warfare and Worship. David places worship in contradistinction to politics as the channel of power and to warfare as the means to victory. This begs the questions, “What's really going on, here? What's central to the scheme of things, that determines how everything else plays out?”

King David describes his desperate situation vividly. Even though we can only guess at the details regarding what's happening and who's involved, the Psalm records enough for us to get David's message loud and clear.
David's enemies. David describes them as evildoers, adversaries, enemies, and false witnesses. "EVILDOER" (ra'a in Hebrew) indicates one whose wants to tear down or destroy another. David goes further and describes his enemies as BEASTS who want to devour his flesh. "ADVERSARY" (tsawr) indicates one who presses another into a tight spot, one who applies extreme pressure. "ENEMY" (awyab) is one who plainly and simply hates another. These are not only hostile men, but verse 3 makes it clear that they are very POWERFUL MEN, able to wage war against King David. They are also FALSE WITNESSES who hurl threats and false accusations at David. In short, THESE MEN UTTERLY HATE DAVID, AND ARE WIELDING ALL THE POWER AT THEIR DISPOSAL IN ORDER TO BRING THE FULL WEIGHT OF THAT HATRED DOWN UPON HIM.
David is betrayed. Although not stated explicitly, verse 10 indicates that at least some of his enemies he had once considered GOOD AND TRUSTED FRIENDS. Thus, in addition to the threat of physical harm, David had to struggle with feelings of abandonment.
David is guilty. The theme of guilt does not dominate the Psalm, but it is a factor in David's struggle. See verse 9. David had to wonder whether God was DISCIPLINING HIM for his sins.

David was in peril, and he was alone. Given the circumstances, we would expect him to do either one of two things. Either he would forsake hope, or he would harness all the human power available to him as king of Israel in order to match his strength against that of his enemies. But David's response catches us by surprise!
"God has not abandoned me." What is unsaid in the Psalm, but is clear from a NT perspective is that God was testing David (cf. Jam 1) to see where his TRUST lay. And so God thrust him into SPIRITUAL BATTLE against the Enemy. Though the enemy hurled many darts of discouragement, yet the man of God wielded the shield of FAITH well, and few of those darts actually reached him. God's covenant love and faithfulness were the answer to the doubts and fears that plagued David.
"I will seek the Lord." The contrast between David and his enemies begs the question, WHERE DOES REAL POWER LIE? For ungodly men, it lay in politicking and military force. For David, power lay in God. David's logic was simple: if God is for me, who can be against me? (cf. Rm 8:31) Faithless people would say that this is a simplistic and escapist solution to one's problems. Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses, and countless people after him have echoed this sentiment. But such men could never understand the motive of such faith. This was not using God as a means to an end. GOD HIMSELF WAS THE MOTIVE. Verses 4-6 can be summarized in three points. David's priority: WORSHIP. David's expectation: DELIVERANCE. David's ambition: RICHER WORSHIP. In summary, DAVID'S DESIRE WAS GOD, AND HIS CONFIDENCE LAY IN THE FACT THAT NO ONE AND NOTHING COULD THWART THAT DESIRE.

Those were David's convictions. But how did he act upon those convictions? The answer should serve as an example for us.
Remembering. See verse 2. God had shown His faithfulness in the past. Recall the words of Polycarp, the disciple of John the apostle, to the Roman Emperor. "I have served the my Lord these seventy years, and never has He done me any wrong. How can I then betray him?"
Praying. Verses 7-11 record four petitions and two pronouncements that characterized David's prayers in response to the crisis. He did not make the mistake of equating the visible with and urgent.
Resigning. When David said, "One thing have I asked from the Lord, that I will seek after," he meant it! This lies at the heart of true faith, and this sentiment is held in every believer's heart (cf. Rom 8:37-39, Jude 1:24-25). The problem is that we easily get distracted, and so life is trial after trial orchestrated by the Lord to burn away, as it were, all other peripheral pursuits.
Waiting. David waited patiently for the Lord to come through. We don't know whether God brought deliverance through means available to David (such as an army), through remarkable providence, or through a miracle. However God did it, though, we know He did it for David and for His own glory.
Preaching. D. Martin Lloyd- Jones once said that the solution to all of a Christian's problems was to preach to oneself, rather than to listen to oneself. This is exactly what David did. Psalm 27 is basically a manifesto delivered by David to himself in the presence of God.

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