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?
In the context of a relationship to God our survey of fear produces no appropriate object. Salvation and light dispel fear and terror. There are many possible options for fear – the options remain. But the legitimacy of those options is no longer valid.
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
First, the wicked will advance, and it will be personally directed. They are not advancing against an ethereal cause – it is an intensely personal vendetta. Second, their aim is not to merely oppress, depress or repress. Their aim is the same as that of Satan – to devour, consume, totally destroy. There is no compromise position in their war. Third and finally, by attacking the righteous they receive their own curse – they are destroyed in the process of pursuing God’s chosen child. Obviously, they will be surprised by their own failure and destruction, because they advanced against the child of God in full belief of victory, but ended up holding the empty remains of defeat, and not merely plans which failed, but they themselves having now become their own victims.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
The scale of the attack increases from “the wicked” to “an army” to “a war.” Among each level of progression God’s child will not become captive to fear or discouragement, all because “the Lord is my light and salvation…and stronghold.” Although they are being personally attacked with ever-increasingly scale from the enemy, to the degree that the enemy is placing the magnitude of their forces against them, the child of God is rooted in having been chosen, loved, forgiven and protected, so that the expanse of the attack has no correlation to the level of fear.
4 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.
Amide the rage of tempting fears and the fierce assault of increasing war the child of God wants to spend time with Father. Literally, “this only do I seek.” What should be sought in war seems to be defenses, counter-attacks, plans and escape routes. But when the child of God is attacked, no matter the scale, the face and presence of God is sought. The child of God does not move out of seeking God during war, but towards Him. To overcome the attack of the enemy one must rest close to the heart of God. The enemy is defeated in our proximity to the king.
5 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.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
The day of trouble may or will occur – but where God is, we are. It is “His dwelling… His sacred tent…His sacred tent.” These are locations of life, home, headquarters, where we find access to the presence of God. The child of God is not only in the temple of God, but now the tent of God. War, trouble, personal attacks, armies – all of it allowed into our life not to push us from God but actually to be invited into His deepest promises and life. The attacks of the enemy meant to destroy us create the very intimacy with God which will deliver us. Being hated by the enemy reveals to us being loved by God.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
The cry of the human heart has been and will always be for its Maker, although the human heart has strayed like a sheep which is lost from the hand of the Shepherd. To be answered by God is an act of mercy – we don’t think of our prayer lives as relentlessly asking God for mercy, but every prayer is a statement of mercy, no matter what the answer is. In the middle of the war the heart of the warrior is set upon the King. The war is real, the armies real, the perceived threat real – but someone literally trained and skilled at fighting (David) says when all of this is happening, I seek God from the deepest recesses of my soul. All the way from “the temple” to “the tent” to “Your Face, Lord…”
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
The child of God passionately recalls to God that His character has already been revealed and asks God to continue revealing Himself, not in anger but in help. The deepest rejection wound a human being can know – being rejected by a father or mother – carries with it a past experience but not a present reality. David acknowledges that rejection on earth is possible from what should have been those we trusted to love us the best. But how people failed us in our most sacred emotional needs does not speak to the capacity of God meet us in our greatest longings. The child of God may not be welcome at their parent’s house, but can stay with God in “His sacred tent.” God has room in His house even if others have no space for us in their hearts.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
Along with the war and armies and enemies comes the death of reputation – not your real reputation, but the false reputation that your enemy will spend time creating, slandering and spreading. The antidote is not desperately pursuing the constant clearing of every gossiper but drawing closer to God’s plan for your life. While being gossiped against go to God. The scriptures say that the straight path of the Lord is the answer to the crooked tongue of the world.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Heaven will show up on earth. Because of this hope the child of God can be confident even if they have been rejected by loved ones, gossiped about by enemies and surrounded by the army of the foe. We might not see the goodness of man in the land of the living, but we shall see the goodness of God.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Anxiety often produces effort. A burning desire to exercise energy in productivity, planning and persistent work can spring from stress and worry. But although he is slandered and surrounded David rests in, and with, God. He takes heart by letting it take a beat. He isn’t waiting for his enemies to change. He isn’t waiting for people to take down what they posted. He isn’t waiting for the news cycle to move on. He is waiting for the Lord. So many of us are waiting – waiting for others to be different, waiting for loved ones to start loving us, waiting for enemies to be changed or destroyed… but our true wait needs to be with God in His home.
God’s welcoming us as loved child releases us from worry in the midst of our war.
Stay close to stay strong,