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Summary: Text: Psalm 27 Year C. 2nd, Sunday of Lent March 11th, 2001

Text: Psalm 27

Year C. 2nd, Sunday of Lent

March 11th, 2001

Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church

Web page http://lordofthelake.org

By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor

E-mail pastor@southshore.com

Heavenly Father empower each of us here at Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church to imitate your Son Jesus Christ by practicing the awareness of Your Divine Presence, in all that we do. Amen.

Title: “Awareness of The Divine Presence”

This psalm is unique in the Psalter because its first section verses one to six are a strong statement of confidence in Yahweh and its second section is an equally strong petition for help in time of trouble verses seven to thirteen. It closes with an “oracle of salvation” from God. This order-confidence first, followed by lament- is not found anywhere else among the psalms. The two sections are even thought by some to be two separate psalms- one of confidence and trust, the other of lament and petition. The lack of any historical or liturgical clues makes it impossible to date the psalm or to locate its original setting.

Close examination reveals that this is, in fact, a unified whole. There is nothing strange about beginning prayer with thanksgiving for God’s favor first, and following, in that grateful awareness, with prayers of petition. Likewise, there is nothing strange with beginning by recalling one’s confidence in God, no matter what the situation, and then proceeding to ask God for deliverance from a new threat. In fact, verse fourteen, the oracle from God, encouraging patient waiting, confirms this. The psalm, then, is for any person under threat or attack by hostile forces of any sort to heighten and strengthen awareness of the reliability of God, and, in that awareness, to ask God for help in yet another crisis, all the while confident that God will hear the cry and respond as he always has. It is awareness of the constant presence of God that is the central thrust and purpose of this psalm.

In verses one to six, “A confession of Confidence in Yahweh,” these verses express unshakable trust, which banishes fear, regardless of the dimensions of the threat

In verse one, “light”: Light is a natural symbol for almost anything positive. As light automatically, by its very nature, dispels darkness, so does God, by his very presence, dispel fear. He is the answer to fear.

“Salvation”: Here used as a synonym for light, it emphasizes God’s ability to give victory, even military victory, despite the odds against it.

“Refuge”: It is not clear what physical place or situation this might be referring to- the Temple? A place of asylum? A strategic spot in a war? A place to retreat to? However, its metaphorical sense is the overriding one here. The “refuge” is faith, aware faith, in Yahweh. Whether in a quiet place like a Temple or a chaotic place like a battlefield, awareness of God’s presence brings safety, surety, and peace.

In verses two and three: Even if the psalmist’s enemies have the strength of an army up against a single unarmed man, the psalmist is confident they will not prevail. No set of circumstances will shake his faith in Yahweh.

“Devour my flesh”: This could refer to the brutal means of being killed in battle, a real pack of wild hungry animals, or an expression for false accusations or all three, as is frequent in poetry. The point is that no matter what the threat or form it might take, it is not more powerful than the awareness of the Presence of our God.

“My enemies themselves…stumble and fall”: It is a basic principle that those who plan or execute harm against the innocent suffer the damage they intend to inflict on the innocent, an example of the law of cause and effect, as you sow so shall you reap.

In verse four, “one thing I ask of the Lord”: This is an amazing statement. The psalmist has boiled down all his needs and wants to one thing. If he has this one thing he has everything. Such succinctness is rare in the Old Testament, which tends to be wordy.

“to dwell in the Lord’s house”: The Lord’s presence is meant. It is symbolized by a picture of living in God’s Temple. His one yearning, after all the world offers has been tried and found wanting, is the awareness of Divine Presence. All other concerns of life are secondary. He stakes his life completely on God, specifically, awareness of God’s presence here and now.

“All the days of my life”: A Jew would typically mean this present, earthly life. A Christian would have no trouble including that, but extending it to eternal life.

“To gaze on the Lord’s beauty”: Two consequences flow from the Presence. The first one is to “behold,” to enjoy, bask in, delight in the extraordinary and inexhaustible beauty of God. To a Jew this would refer to this life only. To a Christian this would continue into eternity.

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