My name is Ingrid Hoogenboom and I have the great privilege of being a part of the teaching team here at Calvary. Today my hope is that you will find refuge in God’s promises to protect you and that you will seek to hear His voice.
I’ll be honest that it is a strange experience as a teacher to only see my screen and not your faces. I want to encourage you today to not just be a spectator, but be a participant. Share your thoughts and responses to the reflection questions in the comments, and I invite you to join our Zoom fellowship time after the service. It’s not the same as being together but it is a way to walk together as a Church.
I will be teaching on Psalm 27 and so I invite you to pull out your Bible or Bible app and turn there with me now.
The book of Psalms is a collection of prayers and songs. In it, we find words of lament and words of praise. It is the book I turn to most often when I am looking for comfort or encouragement, and it is where I have found myself drawn to often in the last two months.
Psalm 27, like the majority of Psalms, is believed to have been written by David. Most agree that it was written during his flight from King Saul. You can read all about this period of David’s life in 1 Samuel 21-23. David was hunted down by Saul. His supporters, friends, and family were captured and murdered. He had to hide out in countless uncomfortable places. He even experienced his own people turning against him. The backstory to Psalm 27 plays out like a blockbuster film, which amplifies the words of praise and trust we are going to study today.
Now that you have opened up your Bible or Bible app, I’m curious, does your Bible have a title for Psalm 27? What is it? Yes, this is your first chance to participate! Share it in the comments.
In my translation, the Christian Standard Bible, Psalm 27 is titled “My Stronghold”. The Lexham English translation titles it “A Declaration of Trust”. The Passion Translation uses “Fearless Faith”. I love each one of these titles; it tells you right at the start that this Psalm will be a declaration of trust in God’s protection over you.
Read along with me now, verses 1-3:
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—whom should I dread?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid;
though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.
Now, of course, the battles and the enemies described in this Psalm is not what we experience in modern times. So as I read these first few verses, I wondered: who are your enemies today?
Ephesians 6:12 says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”
I’m not suggesting for a minute here that the world is not currently in a struggle against flesh and blood. But I would suggest that beyond the realm of the medical professionals and patients fighting this virus on the frontlines, we are all battling other unseen powers of darkness. Fear, anxiety, and doubt are real and valid feelings but they can also become powers of darkness in our lives. I am sure that each of you have experienced moments in the last few months when these forces have threatened to overwhelm and overtake you.
But what does David write here in response to his enemies? The Lord is my Stronghold. I will not fear. Though war breaks out against me, I will be confident.
Such a declaration; can you feel the trust in his words? Could you be so bold against your unseen enemies today?
There is this really interesting contrast between David’s life and his psalms. In 1 Samuel, David repeatedly hid in places referred to as strongholds. These were high rock plateaus or mountain caves. As David fled from his enemies, he would find these strongholds and hide there for his physical protection.
But in David’s psalms, when he refers to a stronghold, it is not a physical refuge but rather it is God.
So who are your enemies today and where are you fleeing to?
For many of us, we can’t flee anywhere, we are staying at home. But when you feel those powers of darkness begin to overtake you, you don’t need a physical place to hide from your enemies. God is your stronghold.
He is our rock, a high tower and shield — the One in whom we can take refuge. Psalm 144:1-2
Just pause and sit with that for a minute Calvary. He is your stronghold in such a time as this. Your refuge. He is your place of safety. Your defence against enemies seen and unseen.
Let’s keep reading along in this Psalm verse 4:
I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.
Basically, it sounds like David is saying that he desires to be quarantined in Jesus’ house every day!
In all seriousness though, this is a very well-known verse from the Psalms, perhaps so familiar that you could easily skim over it and miss the underlying question.
In this verse, David asks for just one thing, and given what he was experiencing with King Saul, you would think he would ask for deliverance from his situation.
He is being pursued by his enemies, unable to relax or let down his guard. He is afraid and uncertain about what even the next minute might bring. But he writes that he has just one desire, to dwell all the days of his life in the presence of the Lord.
The Passion Translation says it like this: Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else. I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace.
So here is my next question for you: In times such as this, what are you seeking most?
It might be social connection. You might be finding yourself reaching for your phone to check your social media sites or to call a friend.
It might be information. You might be finding yourself watching every live news update and constantly checking for the latest stats.
It might be distraction. You might be finding yourself spending hours more with books or Netflix or gaming than you ever have before.
Don’t get me wrong, I find myself seeking people and updates and mind-breaks constantly through the day too. Part of this is just normal life right now.
But can I ask you something? Have you also noticed through your day a gentle tug on your heart, drawing your attention to prayer? Have you reached out for your phone to check Twitter and had a thought; maybe I should reach for my Bible instead?
This tug on your heart, this fleeting thought; this is the Holy Spirit, calling out to you as deep calls to deep. Listen to how David describes it in verse 8:
Lord, when you said to me, “Seek my face,”
my inner being responded,
“I’m seeking your face with all my heart.”
Despite everything David was enduring during this trying period of his life, his inner being sought after and responded to God’s call.
I have found that in a time such as this, I am challenged by Psalm 27 to pay more attention to what I am seeking first and what I am seeking most.
Will you do something with me right now? It might feel a little bit odd since we aren’t all in one room together, but it won’t be more odd than me singing along with the worship here in my basement!
I know that some of you have kids running around this morning, so if this doesn’t work for you right now, I encourage you to find five minutes at some point this week when you have a moment of quiet.
First, make sure you are sitting comfortably and you may even want to close your eyes.
Now, take a minute to quiet your heart. Take a few slow deep breaths. As your breath and mind slow down, listen. Can you hear His voice in your heart?
“Seek my face”.
He is calling for you, his beloved. He wants time with you. He wants to be your one desire, the only thing you seek.
How does your heart respond when you listen for His call?
If you struggled to hear His voice, don’t despair. Let Him know that you desire to spend time with Him, that you want to hear His voice. Ask God to reveal how He speaks to you.
If you felt some resistance or negativity well up inside you, don’t be ashamed or frustrated. Let Him know that you are struggling to spend time in His presence. Be honest about what comes up for you. Ask God to prevail against all that is standing between you and His presence.
If you heard words of encouragement or comfort, here’s another chance to participate; will you share those with our community? Post them in the comments right now, share them during our Zoom time after this service, or post them on the Calvary Facebook page this week. When we speak God’s words of truth to each other Calvary, that is being the church, that is how we can stay connected to each other and to our Stronghold during times such as these.
To close, as a benediction and encouragement today, I want to read over each one of you the final verse from Psalm 27.
Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Don’t give up, don’t be impatient, be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting – for he will never disappoint you.
- Who are your enemies today?
- In times such as this, what are you seeking most?
- How does your heart respond when you listen for God’s call?