Monday, April 27, 2015

Psalm 27 - Sanctuary

Because of God's tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace."
Luke 1:78-79
1The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4The one thing I ask of the LORD
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in His Temple.
5For He will conceal me there when troubles come;
He will hide me in His sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the LORD with music.
7Hear me as I pray, O LORD.
Be merciful and answer me!
8My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with Me.”
And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
9Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the LORD will hold me close.
11Teach me how to live, O LORD.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

In Psalm 27 - David provides a wonderful picture of sanctuary: the place of safety when everything outside is turbulent. Sanctuary is a refuge or rest, a place where you can feel at peace when under assault. The "Sanctuary" is God Himself, who is always our Refuge. 

In this moving prayer David opens with a bold affirmation that he has nothing or anyone to fear. He is serene in the midst of a stormy world. His secret is found in the opening verse. How could he be fearful in light of what he knows to be true of Yahweh, the God of the covenant!

I need light because I am surrounded by darkness. It is the LORD who is my light. In the Psalm the personal name of the God who had made a covenant with me through my Lord Jesus Christ that is my Light. The use of the personal pronoun “my” should be noted. It is not a simple affirmation that God is Light, but rather that He is “my” Light. By His revelation to me and by my choice of Him, He is my Light.

Charles Spurgeon has a helpful comment on the significance of how God is our light. He wrote; “As the light, He manifested to us at first our lost estate, and now he reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by His pure celestial ray, we are no more darkness but light in the Lord.”

Just the light of the sun provides for the needs of my physical life, God is the light that provides for my spiritual life. In the physical realm the scientists tell me that light is actually magnetic energy emanating from a star or the great star of our world—the sun. Life cannot continue on the earth as we know it without the presence daily of this light. This is how God is my light in a dark world. He sustains my life through His Word and His Spirit.

As Spurgeon suggests, "the Light came to you first to make you aware of your sin and condemnation. Enough of the Light entered you to bring you to faith in God. When you became a believer, you were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This means that the Light of God lives in you through the Holy Spirit. So from within the Holy Spirit illumines to you the presence of God, the needs of your life, and the truth that you need for the living of life."

I would never know who God is and what He can do if the Holy Spirit had not come to illumine God to me. I would never have known how desperately I need God if the Holy Spirit had not come to fill me with the light within. It delights the Spirit to illumine to my understanding the word of God. Truly His word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path. 

While the unsaved world stumbles along in darkness, the child of God walks confidently through the darkness because of the understanding within. This understanding is nothing less than the presence of the true Light of the world, the Lord Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

When I have the light of God within, it is easier to see the presence and hand of God in the events that go on around me. I know that the world is not out of control, but rather under His control. He works all things so that they accomplish good for me and glory for His name.

I need salvation because I am in danger. Again it is the LORD of the covenant—the one revealed in Jesus my Lord. He is “my salvation.” Salvation is built on the idea of rescue, deliverance, and healing. There is both a positive and a negative element in this salvation. There is a danger from which I am saved, but there is a blessing and freedom to which I am saved. 

In my case the greatest experience of God as salvation is His mighty deliverance from sin. The moment He set me free from the condemnation that my sin had brought upon me, and blessed me with the wonderful gift of eternal life—I knew God as my salvation. If my God is the God who delivers from all danger, why should I be afraid? He is greater than any danger I face.

I remember how strong I thought my Dad was when I was a child. I remember thinking that my Dad must be the strongest man in the world. But then something happened as I grew older. I became painfully aware of my Dad’s limitations. There are forces in the world for which my earthly Dad was no match. When I became aware of the burden of sin upon my life, and my alienation from God, this was a burden my Dad could not lift. It was a situation for which my Dad was no match.

So when I don’t understand, I turn to God. “The Lord is my light.” Maybe I once was inclined to turn to my earthly father, but now I turn to my heavenly Father. So I can now affirm with David, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.

David had come to know One who is stronger than any trouble or danger that he might face—the Lord of the covenant. Somewhere in David’s life he became aware of the power of the Lord to lift the burden of sin from the human heart. When you read the Psalms, you hear his songs of praise for the salvation, for the deliverance of the Lord.

God is faithful in His love and power. When David learned that the Lord was mighty enough to deliver from sin, it led to a deep life conviction—surely He can deliver me from whatever danger I may face. If the Lord is “my salvation”, then I am not expected to save myself. If the Lord is “my salvation”, then I need look only to Him for deliverance. He will not disappoint when I look to Him.

 "He will hide me in His sanctuary.I need sanctuary because "evil people come to devour me". Sanctuary in the Old Testament points either to the tents of generals of armies; who receive into them those whom they would protect from the insults and injuries of others; or rather to the most holy place in the tabernacle, called the secret place. 

In the New Testament, sanctuary is typical of Christ, the hiding place of His people, in whom their life is hid, and where it is safe and secure. "He will place me out of reach on a high rock," where I would be above and out of the reach of my enemies --meaning Christ, who is comparable to a rock for its height. Christ being higher than the kings of the earth, than the angels in heaven, than the heavens themselves, and much more than the evil people of this world. 

The New Testament greatly expands the idea of the Lord as my strength from the Old Testament. When God saves, the believer is placed “in Christ”. I am “in Him” and He is “in me". No enemy can approach my life without coming through Him. If He is my fortress, and I am hidden in Him, any enemy must break through the wall of His presence. Taking this into consideration has fantastic implications for my life: My LORD God surrounds me so that any enemy must come through Him to get to me.

Now I see why David declares that there is nothing to fear. He is hidden in the Lord. He sheltered by the Lord. The Lord is His protection. And so He is for me. He has grace and strength that matches any circumstance that I face.