Friday, November 27, 2015

Psalm 27: Hope

But LORD, be merciful to us, for we have waited for You.
Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble.
Isaiah 33:2
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.

As I read the words of Psalm 27, there are imagery words of battle being portrayed here.  Words like -- enemies, foes, host, war, -- all speak of warfare.  Phrases like “Though a mighty army surrounds me”, and “When evil people come to devour me”,  speak of a battle being waged.  David is in a difficult situation.  Yet, it is also very clear from reading the entire psalm that even in the midst of the war he is fighting, David still has hope.
The people of today are in vast need of Godly hope. The crimes and violence happening on the streets of this world are the result of how our adversary uses hopelessness. The Spirit of God still holds back the worst that could happen."For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the One who is holding it back steps out of the way." 2 Thessalonians 2:7
For hope is a powerful thing.  G. K. Chesterton said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.”  Emily Dickinson, in one of her poem said, “Hope is a thing with feathers, / That perches in the soul.”  O. S. Marden said, “There is no medicine like hope . . .” Pliny the Elder wrote, “Hope is the dream of a waking man.”  Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope."
The dictionary describes hope as “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”  Hope, from the world’s viewpoint is just what that definition describes.  The world sees hope as a wish or a desire.  Hope, for the world, is a longing for something that may or may not take place.
The Bible teaches a vastly different definition of hope.  The words of Jeremiah, “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.,” Jer. 17:7.  Hear also Paul, “Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.  The world says that hope is merely a fond wish or desire.  But, the words used for hope in the Bible tell affirm deeply that hope is “A deep settled confidence that God will keep His promises!”
Psalm 27,  from the words of David, gives evidence for hope in the Lord.  Psalm 27 tells where my hope comes from and what hope will accomplish in my life. David begins the psalm of hope by declaring his personal faith in the Lord.  David has a personal relationship with God.  This is the basic foundation for hope. David states that God is his “light”, his “salvation” and his “strength.”  There is a tremendous blessing in these three titles attributed to our God. 
These three great characteristics of God serve to give the believer hope even in the midst of battle!  Because of Who our God is, I need not fear any enemy that should arise against me.  Satan is no match for our sovereign God!
David declares that his present hope in the Lord rests upon that which the Lord has done for him in the past.  God did not fail him then, and He will not fail His child today. That same confidence is ours today!   The God we serve is unchangeable, Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8.  He is the same God with the same power that He has always been.  He has never, and He will never change.  Because He has been faithful in the past, I can count on His being faithful now.
If I take time to think of all the things He has done; the victories He has won; the enemies He has vanquished; the mountains He has moved; the victories He has won.  If I think on these things and remember that the God who performed countless wonders in the past is still that same God today!  That should give me hope!
Not only does living with my faith give me hope; but also living faithful to the Lord provides a measure of hope that cannot otherwise exist.  David mentions three goals in this verse.  These three goals all arise from a single commitment to serve the Lord faithfully from a heart of love.  
David wants to spend his entire life in the house of the Lord.  He wants to be in that place where the Lord dwells and where the Lord’s presence is real.  This is a theme David repeated in Psalm 84:1-4.  There, David envies the little birds that make their nests around the tabernacle.  They can be near the house of God all the time, while David cannot.  He has a desire to be where God is; to be in that place where God is worshiped and honored.  That is his heartbeat.
David wants 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.”  David committed to being where the Lord is and he is also committed to worshiping the Lord -- a worthy goal for life!
David expresses his desire to call upon the Lord; to commune with God; and to make requests of God.  This is another image of worship.  David declares his utter dependence upon the Lord for the necessities of life.  David looks beyond his own limited abilities and sees the limitless provisions of the Lord. 
David says that the Lord will hide him in His pavilion.  A king’s pavilion was a tent that built in the middle of the army’s encampment, which was surrounded by an army of brave soldiers.  With all the host of the army camped about, the king’s pavilion was the safest place on the battlefield.  Those who were fortunate enough to be allowed to enter the king’s pavilion were protected by the soldiers and entertained by the king during the battle. (Note: The word “hide” means “to treasure away.”)
As the battles of life rage about me, I am safely hidden away in my King’s pavilion. The Bible tells me that “my life is hid with Christ in God”, Col. 3:3!  There is no safer place in all the universe. The assurance of His sheltering place allows me to weather the storms of life with hope. This was what allowed David to face Goliath.  This was the confidence that kept Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  This was the assurance that gripped the heart of Daniel!  This was the knowledge that allowed Paul to continue, even when he suffered greatly.
"For 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. Then I will hold my head hit above my enemies who surround me. At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music."
The word “sanctuary” refers to the place of worship, it refers to the “Holy of Holies”.  In the inner sanctum of the Temple was a place that was off limits to all but the High Priest, and he could only enter there one day per year, and the only with the blood of an innocent sacrifice.  It was a place that other men entered under the penalty of death. 
Yet, it is this secret place, to which God takes His precious friends.  The Holy of Holies was a place where the very presence of God dwelt and the glory of God could be seen.  It was there that God took David during the battles of his life.  It was there David found himself shut up with God and shut off from the world around him. 
In a king’s home, this place referred to the private apartment of the king.  It was a place no one could enter unless they did so at his bidding. To do otherwise invited instant death.  (Note: The word “hide” means “to conceal”.)
It is amazing that there is a place of safety and solitude in a world filled with violent people.  There is a place that I can flee to during the crushing battles that rage about me.  A place that affords me quiet, peace and the profound presence of God.  Those who have learned to abide in Him have been to that place and know the glory of it.  
It is a place where the enemy dares not follow.  It is a place reserved for those who love the Lord their God. That place where God meets with me alone, a place where everything else falls away and I am left with Him and Him alone.  It is the place He invites those who abide to enter!
This is the gift to all those who know Him!  I am promised that I have a place of refuge that will lift me far above the stormy seas that would otherwise threaten to drown me.  Like the eagle, who takes refuge above the storm until it has passed; those who abide in Christ Jesus are given grace that bears them higher than the storms and keeps them safe until danger has passed:
"But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah. 40:31.