THE Lord IS
Psalms 27–33 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1)
We now join David in psalms that praise God for who He is, and learn what His wonderful qualities mean to those who trust in Him.
To David God is a stronghold (Ps. 27), our strength and shield (Ps. 28). He is King forever (Ps. 29), a healer (Ps. 30), a rock and fortress (Ps. 31). He forgives sin (Ps. 32) and watches over all who hope in His unfailing love (Ps. 33).
Understanding the Text
God our Stronghold. David focused our attention on the God who will never forsake us. “The Lord is” Ps. 27:1. Faith is not an emotion; not something we create from within ourselves. What makes faith real and vital is not “how much” of it we have. What makes faith real and vital is its object. Even a little faith, reposed in God, can transform. Not because we “have” it, but because of who our faith is in. As we come to this and the other psalms for today, we focus as David did on who the Lord is. When our trust and hope are fixed in Him, no matter how small our faith seems to be, God can and will come into our lives with a flood of strength and of joy. “When evil men” Ps. 27:2–3. David devoted just 2 verses of the 14 in this psalm to the dangers which threatened him. The rest share his thoughts of God. The proportion is about right. If we think on the Lord seven times as much as we worry, we too will find peace. “To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” Ps. 27:4–14. These verses are among the most powerful in the psalter, and several cry out for memorization. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (v. 10), and “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (v. 13), are promises you and I can claim. Psalm 28: God, Our Strength and Shield. At times when God does not seem to answer our prayers, trust alone helps. “Turn a deaf ear to me” Ps. 28:1–5. There are times when our prayers seem futile, launched toward a dull and silent heaven. God seems indifferent, willing to let us be dragged away with the wicked. Even at times like these, we are to remember that “the Lord is.” “The Lord is my strength and my shield” Ps. 28:6–9. How, when we cannot sense God’s presence, can we say confidently with David that “He has heard my cry for mercy”? The answer is in who God is. He is the source of our strength and our protector. As David remembered who God is, he said, “My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” The circumstances had not changed, but suddenly David found his heart leaping with unexplainable joy. What a wonderful gift from our wonderful God. Trust alone, anchored in our knowledge of who God is, helps. Psalm 29: God, King Forever. It is appropriate to worship the Lord, who is enthroned as King forever. “Ascribe to the Lord” Ps. 29:1–2. The Hebrew yahab is found only where “to the Lord” is part of the expression. It is a call to the purest kind of worship: giving praise to God for who He by nature is. “The voice of the Lord” Ps. 29:3–9. The voice of the Lord is His power to create and to destroy by speaking a word. Human beings have to use physical tools to build up and tear down. God has merely to voice His thoughts, and it is done. “The Lord sits enthroned” Ps. 29:10–11. The awesome power of God’s voice affirms His sovereignty over all. The Lord is King, forever. It is doubly awesome that this God “gives strength to His people” and “blesses His people with strength.” Psalm 30: God, Our Healer. God can heal physically. And He will heal spiritually all who cry to Him for mercy. “I will exalt You” Ps. 30:1–12. David praised God here for a physical healing. The phrase, “Going down into the pit,” is a common Hebrew euphemism for death and burial. While physical healing is primarily in view here, there is a clear spiritual application. God our Healer (v. 2) hears the cries of the penitent for mercy, and makes it possible for us to “give You thanks forever” (v. 12). Here again is a verse affirming who God is that brings us great comfort. God is one whose “anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime.” Thus while “weeping may remain for a night,” we can be sure that “rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). Psalm 31: Our Rock and Fortress. In powerful images David invited us to find shelter in God’s presence. “I have taken refuge” Ps. 31:1–5. As David fled from Saul, he found refuge in the rocky wilderness of Judah’s hill country. There on some mountain height David and his men camped in relative security. We can imagine David, seated by a campfire as his men watch the one or two approaches to his craggy fortress, sensing that for him, God is just such a “rock of refuge” (vv. 2, 4). David gladly committed himself into God’s hands, and found rest. “You saw my affliction” Ps. 31:6–18. David was pursued as an enemy by armies led by his father-in-law, King Saul. At times his situation seemed hopeless, and David was gripped by a despair that he expressed in verses 9–12. Yet, envisioning God as his fortress, David found grace to say, “I trust in You,” and, “My times are in Your hands.” This is perhaps the greatest challenge we face when hard-pressed. We want relief now. We don’t want to wait. We hate the pressure of our present need. Yet our times as well as we ourselves are in God’s hands. Until God acts, we must find grace to wait, holding tight to God as our refuge. “Goodness . . . stored up” Ps. 31:19–24. God is good. Because of this we can be sure that He has goodness stored up for us who fear Him. For now, we are safe. In the future, we will be doubly blessed. And so David concluded with a word of exhortation. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (v. 24). Psalm 32: God Forgives. Old Testament saints as well as New experienced the joy, and the transforming power, of God’s forgiveness. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 33: God’s Unfailing Love. Here is a bubbling spring of joy that will never run dry. God loves us—and has shown us love in so many ways. “Sing joyfully” Ps. 33:1–3. Praise brings joy, for praise focuses our hearts on the Lord. “His unfailing love” Ps. 33:4–19. What evidences of God’s love are appropriate in David’s—and our own—litany of praise? * He is faithful, and His Word is true. * He loves righteousness and justice. * He created the starry hosts. * His plans and purposes will come to pass. * He considers from heaven all men do. * He watches over those who fear Him, to protect them from disaster. “We wait in hope” Ps. 33:20–22. Because of these proofs of God’s unfailing love, we wait for Him in hope. And as we trust in Him, joy fills our hearts.
The Call to Confession (Ps. 32)
Owning up when we do something wrong really hurts. There’s the shame. There’s the fear that if we confess we’ll be punished. There’s the awful feeling that if we admit we’ve done wrong, we make ourselves vulnerable and lose some important part of ourselves. Perhaps that’s why Psalm 32 is so important. David, drawing from his own experience, shows us that while confessing to any sin may feel like loss, it is actually gain. What does David have to share with us? After beginning with the affirmation that the forgiven man is blessed, David goes on to show us why. Keeping silent is painful (vv. 3–4). Unconfessed sin lodges in our consciences and festers there. Like pus forming under a boil, unconfessed sin creates terrible pressure. Unconfessed sin seemed to sap David’s strength; it felt like a heavy weight pressing down on him. This is a first, important reason for confession. Unconfessed sin causes sickness in our souls. Unacknowledged sin is unforgiven sin (v. 5). God is always ready and eager to forgive sin. But He cannot take away our sin until we release it to Him. This is what confession does: it brings our sin into the open; it holds sin up, fully exposed, to God. And then—wonder of wonders!—God does not punish, but forgives “the guilt of my sin”! Forgiveness restores relationships (vv. 6–7). Sin makes us hide from God. Confession restores us to fellowship so that we can hide in God. With our sins forgiven, we are assured that God will protect us from trouble and “surround [us] with songs of deliverance.” Restored fellowship makes divine guidance possible again (vv. 8–10). God now is again able to instruct us in the way we should go because we again trust Him and are ready to respond to His leading. We are again sensitive to the Lord, so that He can now guide us gently rather than be forced to jerk us back onto His pathway as if we were some stubborn animal that can only be controlled with bit and bridle. No wonder David, his restoration now complete, cried out in joy and gladness at this psalm’s end. What a message for each of us. Unconfessed sin distorts our relationship with the Lord. But when we acknowledge our sin, He not only forgives us, He restores us to intimate fellowship with Him. Once again He leads us in His ways.
If you are troubled with a sense of guilt, joy is only a prayer of confession away.