Reflection on Psalm 27

Psalm 27 1 The psalm of David before he was anointed.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 While the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh.

My enemies that trouble me, have lost their strength and fallen.  

3 If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.

If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.

 4 One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after;

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.  

5 For he has hidden me in his tabernacle; in the day of evils.

He has protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle.

 6 He has exalted me upon a rock, and now he has lifted up my head above my enemies.

I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation,

I will sing and recite a psalm to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to you.

Have mercy on me and hear me.

8 My heart has said to you, “My face has sought you.”

Your face, O Lord, will I still seek.

9 Turn not away your face from me.

Decline not in your wrath from your servant.

Be my helper. Do not abandon me.

Do not you despise me, O God my Saviour.

10 For my father and my mother have left me,

But the Lord has taken me up.

11 Teach me, O Lord, how to walk in your way.

Guide me in the right path, because of my enemies.

12 Do not hand me over to the will of those that trouble me.

For unjust witnesses have risen up against me.

My enemies spread malicious lies to harm me.

13 I believe I will see the good things of the Lord

In the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord,

Be stouthearted, and let your heart take courage.

Wait you for the Lord.

As I said I want to reflect once again on the psalm on the Psalter of the day. So this Psalm which is actually not a very long song. Still, we have just a little bit of it in the lectionary, and that’s okay because the lectionary is going to reflect on something that relates to the readings. We’ll talk about that in just a minute. In me Septuagint version of the Psalms, that being the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, which was the most common and popular version of the Bible read and in Jesus’ time, there’s a note at the very beginning of this Psalm that says that this song was written before David was anointed king.

Well, that’s an interesting timing for the dating of the psalm, because before David was anointed he very young. Although it was there was still years before he actually took the throne. But he was anointed when he was just a shepherd boy. But he was a shepherd boy who had known his share of trouble. And as a shepherd boy he would sit there as he watched over his sheep and cared for his sheep. He used to play on his on his lute or his harp and he would sing. He would create songs to the Lord. So I see this Psalm as being one that is a kind of like a journal. It is very likely this psalm was begun at this time when David was caring for his sheep as a young man, but yet later in his life he would add verses to it so you can actually see a progression in David’s life from being the simple shepherd boy to being on the run from Saul. And finally having to deal with the affairs of state as king.

You can see this progression taking place. I can really see these first six verses as part of David as a shepherd boy here’s a shepherd boy who had faced trouble. He was a shepherd boy who had killed a lion and killed a bear who had come to kill his sheep. They would have killed David himself. David says that the enemies be they people or animals, seeking to take his life. But he said the Lord was his helper. “with the Lord, whom shall I fear. The Lord is my light and my salvation. David had a very keen understanding of God’s presence in his life and of God taking care of him. The Lord is my light the Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear? What shall I fear? Shall I be afraid of the lion? Afraid of the bear? And you can almost see the musings of a young child. Even if there’s an army coming against me, I will have no need to be afraid.

Perhaps David didn’t realize how prophetic that was going to be in his life. He learned at a very young age to trust in God – to know that God would protect him. God would give him strength. God would give him courage to face whatever came before him, be it a lion, a bear, or even an army. God would give him victory. There in these first few verses, which according to my interpretation would come from early in David’s life, he talks about his visit to the house of God, which at this time is the tabernacle at Beth-El. David longs to be in the tabernacle. He longs to pray.

Now many of us remember how in our earlier lives the feelings of God would stir within us. I don’t know how many people I have talked to who relate to me the stirrings of God that affected them when they were young. Maybe they’re active Catholics. Or maybe they’re inactive Catholics. Maybe they’d given up on the church. But often they make this comment, “I was an altar boy and even thought about becoming a priest.” Or, “when I was young woman about12 I thought I was going to grow up to be a nun. I just so appreciated my teachers. They were wonderful, and I thought I’m going to grow up to be a nun.”

You see in many of our lives we have these inner stirrings of the Holy Spirit within us when we’re young, before we get so distracted by puberty and by adulthood. When we start thinking about other things, and start wanting to accumulate stuff. We get a job. We get a car. You know we get an apartment or a house. All the world, all the stuff of the world begins to distract us. It’s not that the things of the world are evil. Are bad in and of themselves, but we can’t let them distract us. Now it’s very likely that David’s own life got distracted. When he was Saul’s general, and he was being triumphant and praised, but the troubles in his life – I think the troubles in his life were key to keeping his focus on God being his light and his salvation. On God being his source. Because when after being the King’s son-in-law, he became a brigand. He became an outlaw, living in a cave. Often when we have nothing else left in life, those of the times when we seek God. And we call on God.

Indeed, I think David, because he faced so much trouble in his life, that he did call on God often. He learned to know God. But he had a longing to seek the face of God. Now it’s interesting, he says the doesn’t seek desires. Instead he seeks the face of God. “come says my heart come says my heart seek his face your face Lord do I seek.”

Now one of the peculiarities of Hebrew is that an imperative verb specifies whether it is speaking to one person or to many people. And even though David is praying this alone the imperative verb is in the plural. So it’s not just David who is being called to seek the face of God. It’s all people, all of us are called to seek his face. And that’s exactly what we do in adoration. We seek Christ in his Eucharistic face. We gaze upon the face of Christ. And even though adoration is a time of silence, that’s when God speaks to us. I mentioned we’re going to go back to the readings, and in fact that was Elijah’s experience when he was in the cave. He knew God wanted to speak to him. Sometimes in our lives we know God wants to speak to us. We don’t know how, and we tried all these things to make God talk to us. Yet we can’t hear him. Elijah, in fact he went out and he saw the wind. And he saw the earthquake. And he saw the fire. But he couldn’t hear God. He couldn’t find God in any of those things. We look at all kinds of distractions in our life. We can’t find God in any of them. But then, in most common translation, that still, small voice, the whisper of silence. Simon and Garfunkel got it right when they use coined that phrase, the sound of silence. That whisper of silence is how God speaks. I got quoted Thomas Keating not long ago when I said, “God speaks in silence, and everything else is a bad translation.”

And that’s what we do when we come to adoration in silence. We gaze upon the face of Christ. Christ’s Eucharistic face. And in that gaze, as in the gaze of two lovers, nothing has to be said. It just is that communication of love. The communication of sureness, of a surety that Christ is with us as we gaze upon his Eucharistic face and allow our Lord to minister within our spirits. We don’t necessarily hear in our minds, but we are built up and encouraged and made strong in that time. As we spend more and more time in adoration, we begin to notice that a change is happening in our souls. We have greater confidence. We have greater certainty in life, because God has spoken into our spirits as we gazed upon his face.

As this psalm comes to an end, David speaks as a man who is completely forsaken. He says “even if my mother and father forsake me, O Lord you will take me in.” I will belong to the Lord. I will go to the tabernacle of God, the tent of God, to the tabernacle of God, and there I will seek your face. You will receive me, and in the strength that he gets from that encounter, he says. “be strong. Be courageous. And wait for the Lord.

David waited many years between his anointing to be king and him actually taking the throne. In those years God strengthened him. Taught him. In one place David says The Lord has trained my hands for war. God made David strong to be the king that God needed him to be. As David waited for the Lord to fulfill his purpose, and that purpose was fulfilled David when became a strong King. But the strong King ad David was also there to speak prophetically of the King of Kings, the son of David, who wants to come to be our true strength, and to be the face that we seek in his Eucharist.

Heavenly father we give you thanks that we were able to come to you to seek your face. Give us strength to wait on you. And as we wait on you give us strength. We know you will fulfill your purpose in this life for us. And sometimes we may feel forsaken, but you will always take us in. Sometimes we seem to be at a loss for words, but in silence we wait and gaze upon your face. Lord, give us strength to always seek you and to always wait for you. Amen.

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