Psalm 27

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2006-05-23 13:25.

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Psalm 27 (26, LXX) is ascribed to David. The Septuagint adds, “before the anointing.” Based on the contents of this psalm, this particular anointing probably is one that occurred when the men of Judah made David their king. (2 Samuel 2:4) Therefore, Psalm 27 may be regarded as expressing David’s sentiments during the time King Saul and his men pursued him.

When referring to YHWH as “my light,” David apparently meant that the Most High illuminated his path, enabling him to discern the course that he should take. The expression “my salvation” (“my Savior,” LXX) indicated that he confidently looked to YHWH to deliver him from his enemies and from adversities. The implied answer to the rhetorical questions is that the psalmist had no reason for being in fear or dread, for YHWH proved to be the unassailable stronghold or fortress of his life. As in a strong fortress that could not be captured, David’s life was safe.

Evildoers drew near, intent on killing him as would beasts that eat the flesh of their prey. These “evildoers,” also identified as “adversaries” (persecutors, oppressors, or those afflicting others, LXX) and “enemies,” upon approaching like wild animals, would stumble and fall. Instead of succeeding in their aim, they would experience calamity.

When faced by an encamped enemy army, David, evidently because of his trust in YHWH, would not yield to fear. In his heart or his inmost self, he would not be terrified. Even if war broke out, he would still be trusting, evidently YHWH who would effect his deliverance. The Hebrew could also be understood to mean that the psalmist would be confident, not apprehensive.

More than anything else, David prayed that he might dwell in YHWH’s house all the days of his life. This is the one thing he requested and earnestly sought. In a literal sense, David would not have been able to reside at the sanctuary. For him to be in YHWH’s house, therefore, would have meant being able to enjoy an approved relationship with his God and being accorded the aid and protection customarily extended to a guest. David wanted to behold the delightfulness or pleasantness of YHWH. As a guest, he desired to enjoy the secure feeling of being in God’s presence and having his favor and blessing. This would have been comparable to looking at the pleasant face of God directed toward him.

The Hebrew verb preceding “temple” is baqár, which means “inquire,” “seek,” “contemplate,” “scrutinize,” or “attend to.” In the Septuagint, the rendering is a form of episképtomai, which signifies “visit,” “look upon,” “examine,” or “consider.” Possibly, because what the sanctuary meant to him as the place where the divine presence was manifest, David desired to be a frequent visitor or to inquire there for divine guidance.

He expressed the confidence that YHWH would hide him or protectively conceal him in his “booth” or shelter in a “day” or time of distress. He would be concealed in the secret place of God’s tent or the safest and best-protected location possible. David’s secure position would be comparable to YHWH’s having placed him on a strategic rocky height overlooking the terrain below. (In the Septuagint, the verbs are in the aorist tense, usually rendered as a past tense, and indicate that God had protected the psalmist.)

David believed that he would not fall before the enemies surrounding him. Instead, he would be able to lift his head above them, evidently because of proving to be victorious. In appreciation for divine help, he would joyfully offer sacrifices at the tent or sanctuary and raise his voice in song to YHWH.

Faced with distressing circumstances, David petitioned YHWH to hear his voice or respond to his call for aid, and to show him favor or mercy in answer to his appeal.

Apparently because of the difficult situation in which he found himself, David’s heart prodded him (from deep within himself originated the impulse) to speak as for YHWH, “seek my face.” In response to that inner voice as if coming from the Most High, David responded, seeking God’s face or his favor, guidance, and help.

The psalmist pleaded that God would not conceal his face from him, withholding his favor and assistance. As YHWH’s servant, he prayed that God not turn away from him in anger, leaving him in a helpless state. He wanted the Most High to be his helper and not to cast him off or abandon him. As one who fully looked to his God for deliverance from distress, the psalmist used the expression “God of my salvation” (“God my Savior,” LXX).

David’s petitions were based on the conviction that YHWH would respond. He believed that even if his own father and mother were to forsake him (which would have been contrary to parental love), YHWH would not do so but would take him up, responding compassionately to him in his time of need.

His enemies wanted him to fall, which would have occurred if he had departed from the right path and ceased to have God’s favor and blessing. Therefore, David prayed, “Teach me, O YHWH, your way and conduct me on an even path.” He wanted to know God’s way for him, making it possible for him to continue conducting himself in a divinely approved manner. For YHWH to have led him on an even or level path (“straight” or “right” path, LXX) would have meant conducting him on a safe path, a way of uprightness, or a course where he would not experience the kind of fall his enemies would have been eager to see.

David prayed not to be given up to the “soul” (the evil intent or desire) of his adversaries. At the time, many falsely testified against David, seeking to bring about his downfall, and puffed out violence or wanted to bring about his violent death. (Compare 1 Samuel 24:9, 10; 26:17-20.)

The first Hebrew word in verse 13 (lo, which here appears to mean “if”) creates the following incomplete thought: If David had not believed that he would see the goodness of YHWH in the land of the living, apparently by receiving the desperately needed help as a person still alive in the land— Without supplying a description of the anxiety he would have experienced in that case, the impact is heightened. The situation would have been unmentionable and too horrifying to contemplate. In the Septuagint, the conditional “if” is omitted and the words are an expression of faith. “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.”

The psalm concludes with an imperative in the second person singular, evidently directed personally to any individual hearing the words. The admonition is to wait for or hope in YHWH, evidently for his aid in times of distress. After the imperative to be strong and to let the heart be “bold” or courageous (not giving in to fear), the encouragement to wait for YHWH is repeated.


Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.

In verse 1, the Septuagint rendering is hyperaspistés, meaning “protector” or “shield bearer,” not “fortress.”

In verse 6, the Septuagint indicates that God lifted up the psalmist’s head. The sacrificing is represented as a past event, and the singing of “psalms” or praises is rendered as a future intent.

In verse 8, Septuagint manuscripts differ in what they have the “heart” saying with apparent reference to the psalmist. Fourth-century Codex Vaticanus and fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus read, “To you my heart has said, I sought your face.” Another reading is, “To you my heart has said, my face sought,” with God being the implied object of the seeking.

In verse 12, the Septuagint does not use the expression “breathe out violence” or “puff out violence.” It reads, “and injustice has lied to herself.” Possibly the Septuagint could be understood to mean that “injustice” personified is based on lies.