This psalm is so rich! It is one of the most comforting of all the psalms to my heart!
Here are the highlights…
Verse 1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Just saying the words causes comfort to wash over me like the tide washes gently over the sand. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” He is my light. Indeed, He is our light. We need not stumble in darkness. Darkness brings fear; light dispels fear. The Lord is my salvation. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they have it more abundantly.” Wow! Abundant life! Not just existing, not just getting by from one day to the next, but living abundantly. That is what Jesus gave me. And not just in this life, but in the life to come, eternal life. Again, He said, “That whosoever believeth on me shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The Lord is the strength of my life. Several verses come to mind. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” “Without Me, you can do nothing.” “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I can’t even get out of bed in the morning without the strength that God gives me.
Verse 4: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. Even before I had a personal relationship with Christ, when I had only head knowledge of what He had done for me, I wanted to serve Him. From my youth I have desired only to be in the service of the Lord, regardless of what He might ask me to do. He has allowed me to serve Him as a missionary, teacher, and musician. Now my ministry includes writing. I praise Him for desiring to use me, a broken vessel, for His glory.
Verse 5: For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. One thing we can all be sure of in this life is that trouble will come. But I have the confidence of knowing that the Lord will not feed me to the wolves. He will hide me and protect me. The last phrase seems like a contradiction. “He shall set me up upon a rock.” How can anything on a rock be hidden? The image I see here is a lighthouse standing tall on a rock, so high that the fiercest storm cannot knock it down, and I am safe inside the lighthouse. Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock. His work is perfect, for all His ways are righteous. A God of truth and without iniquity. Just and right is He.” He is the light, the pavilion (i.e. lighthouse), and the rock. The storm rages all around me, but it cannot touch me, for I am sheltered safely inside.
Verse 8: When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said unto You, “Your face, LORD, will I seek.” God desires that I would seek His face continually. That is the reason I have so many problems, both big and small. If my life were always easy, I would have no need for God. Sure, I’d give Him thanks, but even my thanks would become trite right quickly. I find that I am much more thankful for His provisions after a period of doing without.
Verse 10: When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. And not just my father and mother. But when my spouse, child, and friend forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. In fact, He has said that He will never leave me or forsake me. Others might. Correction: Others will. We are all human, and when the going gets tough, all too often we get going—to higher ground, leaving others behind if necessary. We are limited, but God is infinite. We are fickle, but God is constant. We are selfish, but God loves us with an everlasting, unconditional love.
Verse 11: Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies. I want to follow Christ, but distractions so often get in the way. These “enemies” of my soul may be wolves in sheep’s clothing. They may even be well-meaning people who simply do not understand God’s will for my life, though they think they do. There is safety in the multitude of counselors, but our ultimate counsel must come from God alone. He alone knows me inside and out. And He alone knows the plans He has for me. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
And finally, verse 14: Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Waiting is one of the hardest things to do, but it does get easier with time. I am not nearly so impatient as I used to be, though I won’t say that I’ve mastered the grace of patience by any means. In some areas it is easier than others. Do you want to know the secret? Waiting is easier when you allow God to be God and learn to trust Him fully. And as for the areas of my life where I still lack patience, I remind myself once again to “wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Photo taken near Luray, Virginia, 2009