Theme: Three Things God Has Been
In this week’s lessons we are reminded of the need to confidently wait upon the Lord to answer our prayers.
Scripture: Psalm 27:1-14
In addition to Psalm 27:1, we have to go to the New Testament to find a good parallel between God and light. When we do we find that there “light” is a name for Jesus Christ: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . . The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:5, 9). John, who makes this identification, also says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
What is this image supposed to mean? In the gospel of John it has to do with understanding, which is why it is applied to Jesus. It is in him that we see or understand what God the Father is like. In 1 John light has to do with God’s purity or sinlessness, because it is opposed to the darkness of sinful behavior (v. 7). What about Psalm 27? Here the term is not specifically explained. It could suggest illumination, purity, joy, life and hope, among other things. But since David is thinking about his enemies and is seeking deliverance from them, Craigie is probably right when he says, “The psalmist is affirming that even in the darkness of the terrible threat of war, he has no fear, for God is the light that can dispel such darkness.”2
2. My salvation. The Hebrew word for salvation means “deliverance” explicitly, and again this probably has to do with deliverance from the king’s immediate enemies. The very next psalm expresses the same idea when it says, “The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one” (Ps. 28:8).
3. The stronghold of my life. The military images and the concerns they represent continue over into the third of these great images for God, namely, a refuge or stronghold, for David needs a refuge from his foes. He had it in the past. Therefore, he will not fear any future dangers. Even if his foes should attack, an army should besiege him or war should break out against the nation, David will not fear as long as God is his stronghold. Proverbs 18:10 expresses the same idea saying, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run to it and are safe.”
On the other hand, we have to say that although these three images for God all probably have to do with military deliverance and protection in this setting, they also and rightly suggest even greater meanings to us. Light speaks of spiritual understanding. Salvation points to the greatest of all deliverances, namely, deliverance from sin by the death of Jesus Christ. Stronghold refers to that spiritual refuge from the pains and buffetings of life which God himself is for his people. For us this is a well-rounded statement of God’s manifold spiritual blessings, and it has generally been so understood. John Stott puts our understanding well when he says, “The Lord is my light, to guide me; my salvation, to deliver me; and the stronghold of my life, in whom I take refuge.”3
What do the various passages in the New Testament mean when they link God and light?
How does the image of God as light apply in the psalm?
What does “salvation” mean in this psalm? What are other ideas or emphases in the Bible?
David also describes God as his stronghold. What does that mean?
Reflection: In what ways have you seen the Lord at work as your stronghold, or for someone you know?
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2Peter C. Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, Psalms 1-50 (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), p. 231.3John Stott, Favorite Psalms, Selected and Expounded (Chicago: Moody, 1988), p. 36.