Posted by: Lisa | March 2, 2012

In Defense of Psalm 27

On my earlier post, “A Multiplicity of Bibles,” I mentioned my fondness for psalm 27.  A reader objected because the psalm speaks about evildoers stumbling and falling; about the speaker rising above enemies and avoiding traps set by foes.  It sounds like the speaker is reveling in being on God’s side and having God’s help in conquering enemies.

This psalm makes my heart soar – but I do not take it literally because I don’t have human enemies.  I deliberately live my life in such a way to avoid making enemies.  Even if I had foes, I would never wish them harm because I’m not that kind of person.  I don’t think of myself as better than anyone else.

For me, when the psalm speaks of conquering “enemies” and “foes,” I imagine all the evil tendencies that exist inside myself – and remind myself to fight to overcome my tendencies toward laziness, anger and depression.  The psalm gives me hope that God’s grace is there to help me overcome.

One of my favorite verses is: “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.”  This gives me a lot of comfort, not because I’ve been literally forsaken, but because both of my parents are deceased.

Psalm 27 also speaks about dwelling in the house of the Lord and seeking God’s face.  Again, for me, this doesn’t mean any one religion or church.  It’s more about the state of my own heart.  It reminds me to put God first, to seek Him first – no matter what else I’m doing in my life.

The psalm ends with a strong exhortation to “wait for the Lord!”  This reminds me that it’s completely normal to feel (at times) that God is absent.  Yet at times, I can sense Him almost like a physical presence.  So I trust – and keep living my life one day at a time.

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Responses

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Lovely Psalm, but it does raise questions. I wonder if the writer knew of Exodus 33:20 while calling out to us to seek God’s face? I agree with your interpretation. I have no fear of looking into God’s face. I expect to find Love there. I know I have before.

    But it does bring to mind a completely different topic –

    I know of one lady who justifies cursing (literally with spells) other people when they do her harm because of Exodus 20:24 .. she even misquoted it to me. (So many people take a verse here and a verse there, and make knots out of them) She seems to have forgotten that Jesus said ‘don’t go there’, or she’s ignoring his words. I wonder if she would claim to love this Psalm too .. what do we do that turns people into enemies? I wonder how people can expect God to protect them when their actions prove we still have a lot to learn?

    Love & Peace
    Ama

    • So true! I used to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic Church. Over the course of four weeks, one prays the entire book of psalms (150 psalms). I developed a real appreciation for many of the psalms – but some of them are downright cruel-sounding. I can’t believe stuff like that is really inspired by God.


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