This blog is rapidly becoming an attempt to preach my sermons again with additional things which I wish I had said- see this on Romans 9 for instance. So to continue the theme I have recently been reflecting back on my sermons on Psalm 27 and pondering how I might have preached them differently.
During the series I mentioned a number of times that David was facing a difficult situation- he has enemies seeking to attack him, he has false witnesses accusing him and so on. That could be the danger from Saul at the beginning of his life or the threats from his son Absalom towards the end. Either way, in the midst of that danger the Lord is his light, salvation and stronghold. I, therefore, applied that to us in fairly general terms. We often go through difficult circumstances or perhaps stressful times because of other people. We are to learn to bring the Lord into those challenging situations- He is our light, salvation and stronghold.
I think that was fine in general terms. However, I have recently been reading through the beginning of the Psalms again and been struck by how often the theme of enemies appears- for instance, six out of the first nine Psalms refer to David’s enemies attacking or pursuing him. I suspect we often struggle to know what to do with those Psalms- beyond making them about generic difficulties in life. By personality I am (overly) conflict averse meaning that I haven’t really accrued many enemies in my lifetime- so how do these Psalms speak to me?
We need to do some thinking here and remember that David is not just any individual. He is God’s King: the forerunner of Christ. So these are not just his personal enemies- they are the enemies of God’s King and so the enemies of God Himself. Of course, what the whole of the Bible tells us is that behind the physical enemies of God lie the satanic forces that, since they fell, have been seeking to overthrow the reign of God and His Christ.
And we find ourselves in the middle of that war. I am always struck by the fact that Job’s suffering and his response to it is actually in the context of this great spiritual battle- will Satan’s accusations against God be proved right in the life of Job? Job teaches us that each time we look to the Lord in the midst of trials we are playing our role within the cosmic war.
The point is this- there is a war on. We have an enemy who is seeking to devour us, to pull us away from loyalty to Christ, to pull us into sin and settling down into a comfortable existence rather than a sacrificial life for the Lord. Each day is a battle until the final victory of Christ is seen.
So what is Psalm 27 about? It is not just about difficult circumstances. It is telling us that God’s King is opposed by enemies and yet that victory comes from the Lord. It is telling us that as people of the King we will become exposed to the vicious onslaughts of the enemy- and yet in the midst of that, the Lord is our light and our salvation so we need not fear.
We need to think more like that. This is not peacetime: there is a war on. To be honest, I think I applied Psalm 27 to challenging circumstances because that’s where we itch. We know what that is like. And there was legitimate application to be made. But I wish I had focused on the spiritual war more because that’s the big story of what is going on now. And, though it is unseen, it is the greater reality. The challenges of our life are simply the stage on which the battle is played.
It matters that we realise there is a battle on. Only then will we be spiritually alert rather than sluggish. Only then will we see temptation not as a pleasant thing to indulge but as the weapon of an evil foe seeking to destroy our souls. Only then will prayer become a necessity rather than an optional extra.
And when we have the spiritual eyes to see the battle we are in and the forces of darkness ranged against us, then we will cry with delight- the Lord is my light and my salvation. Then we will say that, in the midst of the battle, the one thing we want is to gaze upon the Lord. Then we will seek God. Then, as we face the temptation of the devil to go the way of the world, we will cry “Teach me your way, O Lord.” And then we will wait courageously for the day of the Lord when the battle is over and the victory is won.
You are in the middle of a war. But keep fighting- for the Lord is your light and salvation so you need not fear.