OAKRIDGE BIBLE CHAPEL

A Psalm of Confidence in God’s Presence (Psalm 27:1–14)

“He loves me, he loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not.” It’s a familiar and simple game. By alternating those statements while plucking pedals from a flower one-by-one, an individual seeks to discover whether their affection for someone is, or will be, reciprocated. Ultimately, it’s an exercise in hopefulness and powerlessness.

Following the Lord through the ups and downs of life can feel similar: “He loves me, he loves me not. He’s with me, he’s with me not. He protects me, he protects me not.” Back-and-forth, over mountaintops and through valleys, sometimes feeling hopeful and sometimes feeling futile. But this isn’t something new for God’s people. Even the great David found himself playing this game, alternating between faith and fear, confidence and cowardice, trust and tears. But David also knew how to win the game—how to, despite the circumstances of his life, always pluck the last pedal and declare, “He loves me! He’s with me! He protects me!” And we want to learn how to do that too.

SERMON MANUSCRIPT 

“He loves me, he loves me not; she loves me, she loves me not.” You know the game: an individual, by plucking the pedals from a flower one-by-one and repeating those words, tries to find out whether their affection for someone is, or will be, reciprocated. “He loves me, he loves me not; she loves me, she loves me not.”

Have you ever felt like you’re playing that game with God? Life’s chaos can have us going back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. He loves me, he loves me not; he’s with me, he’s with me not; he protects me, he protects me not. It’s a tiring, frustrating, and testing experience.

Turn to Psalm 27. Today we’re going to see that even David—God’s chosen man to shepherd God’s chosen people—found himself playing this game, alternating between faith and fear, between declarations of praise for God and petitions for help from God. 

But he also knew how to win the game, so to speak; how to, despite the circumstances of his life, always pluck the last pedal and declare with confidence, “he loves me!” And we want to learn how to do that too. The chaotic ups and downs of life is a problem we all face. Psalm 27 illustrates this problem, but also models a solution.

THE PROBLEM: LIFE’S CHAOS

The psalm begins with a strong declaration of confidence as David plucks that first flower pedal and says, “God is with me!” [27:1–6]

The Lord, the covenant God of Israel is also the personal God of David. He says, in verse 1, that Yahweh “is my light,” “my salvation,” and “the defence of my life” or “my stronghold” or “my refuge.” For David, God has, is, and will illumine and lead him, deliver and protect him. And, because of that, he asks two rhetorical questions: “Whom shall I fear?,” “Whom shall I dread?” The obvious answer is “Nobody!” The light of Yahweh drives out all fear and brightens all paths. His deliverance is absolute, his defence, impenetrable.

I can almost hear the psalmist singing that familiar chorus: “I know who goes before me / I know who stands behind / The God of angel armies / Is always by my side.”

That’s the God who’s with me,” David says. And, in verse 2, he looks back on his life and finds proof, times when evil people had targeted him, sought to devour him, but, in the end, it was them who “stumbled and fell.” And so, looking to the future (27:3), even if an army brings war to his door, David says, “My heart will not fear.” Instead, “I shall be confident.” Why? Because “The one who reigns forever / He is a friend of mine / The God of angel armies / Is always by my side.”

And he’s by our sides as well! God holds the universe together and holds us in the palm of his hand. Jesus Christ may be King of kings and Lord of lords but he died for you and me. God is with us, among us, in us, going before us, and working through us. He’s our God.

In this first section, David’s alone and surrounded. What’s he going to do? What does a child do when they’ve had a nightmare? They run for the warmth, comfort, and safety of a parent’s bed. 

And that’s what the psalmist does. In verses 4–5 he says he wants to forever “dwell in the house of the Lord,” to “behold the beauty of the Lord,” to “meditate in his temple,” to be “[concealed] in his tabernacle” and to be “[hidden] in his tent.” He wants the presence of the God who is his light, the safety of the God who is his salvation, and the comfort of the God who is his defence.

He closes this section with confidence (27:5c–6): “He will lift me up on a rock (that is, out of harms way). And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” Outside there’s war; inside there’s beauty, peace, joy, and worship. David’s life may be a nightmare, but his heavenly Father’s bed is safe and warm. “God is with me!”

Have you ever had these moments of holy invincibility? Maybe when you were first saved, feeling liberated; after your baptism, experiencing joy. Perhaps after being used by the Lord in service to the church or in evangelism to the lost you felt a deep contentment or after answered prayer felt loved and kept. These are moments of confidence: “And nothing formed against me shall stand / You [God] hold the whole world in your hands.”

These are wonderful times in the Christian life when God’s people pluck a pedal and declare with confidence, “He loves me!” “He’s with me!” Unfortunately, there are more pedals on the flower of life and, as we keep reading, David picks another and groans, God is with me not!

[27:7–9] What a swing! David goes from God’s beauty to God’s anger, from confidence in deliverance to fear of abandonment, from being hidden in God’s tent to the threat of God hiding from him, from shouting for joy to crying out in fear.

It’s almost like it’s two different people writing. But we know that’s not necessarily true. We’ve all experienced life’s chaos, when the  mountaintops give way to the valley of the shadow of death.

Now, as the landscape of his life dramatically changes, David isn’t losing his faith. He’s still obeying (27:8). God told him “Seek my face,” that is, “be in my presence, my house, my tent, my temple.” And David responds: “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek” but quickly adds a request, “Do not hide your face from me.” “God, I’ll look for you but if you don’t make yourself findable, I’ll never again be in your presence!”

What’s caused David to go from confidence to concern? I think verse 9 hints that sin was involved: “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger.” 

Perhaps past rebellion is haunting him. In Psalm 6, David also pleads, [6:1–2]. Sin brings God’s rebuke, anger, chastening, and wrath. It also takes a toll on the sinner, so David asks for God to be gracious to him. He does the same in [27:7]. He may be asking for God’s mercy in light of his own unrighteousness. David makes another request: “Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation” (27:9b).

When we experience the shift from the mountaintop to the valley, sometimes the cause is other people’s sin or the world’s sin. But often the cause is our sin. Maybe we’re failing to recognize our rebellion, confess it to God and receive the restoration he offers.

Whatever its cause, David moved from “God is with me!” to “God is with me not!” As we come to verse 10, the psalmist quickly plucks another pedal and declares with confidence, God is with me! 

[27:10] This verse reminds me of someone drowning. David is treading water in a sea of discouragement. As he fatigues his head is dropping under the surface but he musters enough strength to life himself once more for a momentary gasp of life-giving air.

He had just begged God not to forsake him (27:9) which reminds David that even his family had forsaken him. But then he comes to his senses, swims desperately to the surface and, *gasp for air* the Lord will not! “Everyone has sent me away but God will receive me to himself. My enemies are pushing me down but God will take me up.” He’s my God. “Whom shall I fear?” “Whom shall I dread?”

But the water again covers David’s head, muting his confidence and highlighting his neediness. “God is with me!” “He’s with me not!” “He’s with me!” And, again, “God is with me not!” [27:11–12] 

David sees enemies everywhere, lying to him and threatening him. They’re mounting deceptive and violent attacks against him and his reputation. So, he prays, asking him who is his light, his salvation, and his refuge to to teach him the road to walk and lead him down it. “God I need your presence with me, your face before me! I need you to not only point the way but to travel with me.”

Finally, however, David comes to the last pedal on the flower. After going back-and-forth a couple of times already, the psalmist lands with a confidence-fuelled declaration that, indeed, God is with me!

[27:13] Despite the ups and downs of life, the enemies and the discouragements, the frustrations and the victories, David says, I’m still confident in this, I still believe this, I still cling to this: that I will “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” 

In other words, God’s going to deliver me, sustain me, protect me, walk with me so that I may enjoy the presence of the Lord, peacefully and safely dwelling in his house, all the days of my life. He’s my God, after all, and he’s good. “God is with me!”

THE SOLUTION: GOD’S PRESENCE

Life is chaotic. We live in a sinful world filled with sinful people—including ourselves—and, because of that we all experience the back-and-forth that David expressed in Psalm 27.

But, as we’ve seen throughout, David also demonstrates the solution to the problem: God’s presence. Though his life was chaotic, David desires to be in God’s house, temple, tabernacle, and tent. He wants to be where God is all the days of his life, seeking him, dwelling with him, beholding him, meditating on him, sacrificing to him, extolling him, and singing to him. David wants, needs, and is chasing God’s presence.

Why? Because he knows that when he’s there, when he’s walking with the Lord, God gives light, deliverance, and refuge. No matter what’s going on and no matter which pedal of the flower he most recently plucked, God’s presence conceals him, hides him, stabilizes him, helps him, teaches him, leads him, and preserves him. The solution is God’s presence, being with God, walking with God, abiding with God.

David’s learned this lesson the hard way, and so, in verse 14, he turns from himself the congregation. He goes from first person to second person; from I and me to you and your. [27:14]

“To wait for the Lord” doesn’t mean, “sit back and endure God’s inactivity.” It more has the meaning of “rely on the Lord,” “hope in the Lord,” “expecting the Lord,” “looking for the Lord to act,” and “anticipating the Lord to deliver.”

Life will do what life does. You can’t always control that. Your job is to rely on your God. Enemies will attack. You, church, seek God’s face. When you want to shout, “God is with me!” “God loves me!” run to him in worship. And when you want to cry, “God is with me not!” “God loves me not!” swim to him at the surface and gasp for his life-giving air.

The solution to the chaos of life, brothers and sisters, is seeking the presence of he who is anything but chaos. The solution to the unpredictability of life is the face of he would never changes. The solution to the war we’re enduring is the house of the Prince of Peace. I need God’s presence. You need God’s presence. We need God’s presence.

So, seek him this week. Seek him in the assembly of God’s people. Seek him in prayer as you’re brought to the throne of grace. Seek him in his word, where is voice is heard. Seek him in setting your mind on things above and not the things of this world. Seek him in the beauty of his creation. Seek him in the warmth of Christian fellowship. Seek him in repentance of sin in your life. Seek him in obedience to his commands. Seek him in submission to his will. Seek him in service to his people.

It matters not what pedal of the flower you have most recently plucked: perhaps you feel confident in God’s provision this morning. Perhaps another wave has just swept over your head and pushed you under. Regardless, the solution to the problem of life’s chaos is God’s presence. There we find peace and rest, strength and courage.

Let’s pray Psalm 27 together.

Our God in heaven,

We proclaim together that you are our light and our salvation. And, because of that, there is nothing to fear. Ever! And we say it again: you are our stronghold, the defence of our lives, you protect us. There is no one and no thing that can cause us to dread.

Even when bad things happen to us, when we are bullied and abused, ignored and attacked by those who oppose you, we trust that it is them who will fall. Even if armies surround us, even if disaster is on our doorstep, we trust in you and you alone, our God, our King!

One thing we ask of you Lord: let us live in your presence all the days of our lives. Let us gaze deeply at your beauty. We are confident that in times of trouble, you will protect us, hide us, and guard us. So, we will praise you! We will sing songs of joy to your name.

Hear us when we pray. Don’t hide your face from us. Help us to seek you. Help us walk in ways worthy of you. Even if those we love most in this world leave us, we know you never will.

Teach us, Lord, to obey you will all submissiveness. Lead us along your straight and narrow path. Even when others tell lies about us, we know we can trust in your kindness and love. We know we can find your goodness and mercy, here in the land of the living.

We thank you for these, your words of counsel: “Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage.” We thank you for this promise. We proclaim that we will trust in you, Father. May we be courageous as your Spirit gives us strength. Through Jesus, our Messiah. Amen.

 



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Josiah has served the Oakridge Bible Chapel family as one of its elders and one of its pastoral staff members since September 2018, before which he ministered as an associate pastor to a local congregation in the Canadian prairies. Josiah's desire is to be used by God to help equip the church for ministry, both while gathered (edification) and while scattered (evangelization). He is married to Patricia, and together they have five children—Jonah, Henry, Nathaniel, Josephine, and Benjamin.

Josiah Boyd

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