Summary: David found his home in God when he was fearful. This is an interactive message with a small group.
This is a psalm of David that speaks to my heart in a powerful way.
David was a controversial figure in the Old Testament. He's controversial because he was a deeply flawed person, and yet he gave particular attention to matters of the spiritual life that was quite uncommon during his lifetime. He made some terrible mistakes and did some awful things in his life, but I guess the key to understanding David is that he was truly teachable, genuinely humble, quick to want to correct his behaviours, and he valued what was going on in his inner life. He paid attention to his conscience; he wanted to live connected to God.
David had all kinds of problems. When we see him first in the Bible, he is a simple Shepherd. but later on he is pronounced King, he is pursued by enemies including the person who was still technically king who had lost his mind. His life story that we find in 1 and 2 Samuel in the OT. It tells the story of a man who had all kinds of reasons to be afraid. And so this psalm speaks to us today. We have time to look at only a few verses from this beautiful psalm.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When he was hiding from his enemies, David would talk to himself. And he would write poems, songs. It's true that sometimes we don't really know how we feel until we write down our thoughts on paper and then read them. And the conversation David had with himself was one that he shared with God. In the conversation, David would process who God was to him.
There are many negative ways of looking at God, some of which we have been taught in our childhood by people who did not know any better. Sometimes we look at God as harsh, we look at God as being very judgy, we look at God as being very distant. But here David says: “The Lord is my light and my salvation - Whom Shall I Fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"
David understands God as his light. The one who illumines his path. When he was in hiding, David spent a lot of time hiding in caves. Dark, dank caves. David experience in God, light, illumination, understanding. And he said so.
David also understands God as his salvation. if David was going to be saved from any one of the perilous situations he found himself in, and if he was going to rely upon someone to save him, he was going to rely on God. He says that God is the stronghold of his life. Do you know what that means? Stronghold?
A stronghold is a defensive structure: Psalms 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. misgav; properly, a cliff (or other lofty or inaccessible place); figuratively, a refuge:--defense, high fort (tower), refuge.
So because the Lord is David's light and salvation, because the Lord is the stronghold of his life, he asks himself Who Shall I Fear? It's a rhetorical question, because since David is protected by the one who is the greatest and most powerful, ultimately does not need to live in fear. Rather, he chooses to live in loving Trust of God.
When the wicked advance against me to devour[a] me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
David's confidence in God is so great that he anticipates that even when he is the target of people who want to destroy him, he anticipates that they, rather than him, will stumble and fall. He doesn't present this as a question. He presents it as a fact. How does that kind of confidence, do you think, Empower David to deal with his problems?
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
I think this is one reason that people look to David as being someone we can learn from as we grow spiritually. Again, he was a deeply flawed man who did some very terrible things in his life, but those mistakes, those sins did not define who he was. He wasn't defined by his mistakes, and he wasn't defined by what anybody else did to him or how anybody else thought of him.