|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:1-6 The Lord, who is the believer's light, is the strength of his life; not only by whom, but in whom he lives and moves. In God let us strengthen ourselves. The gracious presence of God, his power, his promise, his readiness to hear prayer, the witness of his Spirit in the hearts of his people; these are the secret of his tabernacle, and in these the saints find cause for that holy security and peace of mind in which they dwell at ease. The psalmist prays for constant communion with God in holy ordinances. All God's children desire to dwell in their Father's house. Not to sojourn there as a wayfaring man, to tarry but for a night; or to dwell there for a time only, as the servant that abides not in the house for ever; but to dwell there all the days of their life, as children with a father. Do we hope that the praising of God will be the blessedness of our eternity? Surely then we ought to make it the business of our time. This he had at heart more than any thing. Whatever the Christian is as to this life, he considers the favour and service of God as the one thing needful. This he desires, prays for and seeks after, and in it he rejoices.
Verse 1. - The Lord is my Light (comp. John 1:7-9; John 12:35, 36, 46; 1 John 1:5). The statement does not occur in any other place in the Old Testament, though the idea may be found in Isaiah 60:1, 20; Micah 7:8; and elsewhere. Light has been well called "this profoundly beautiful name of God" (Delitzsch). And my Salvation (comp. Psalm 18:2; Psalm 62:2, 6). Whom shall I fear? "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Who can be to be feared? (see Psalm 118:6). Not man certainly; for" what can man do unto us?" Not other gods; for they are nonentities. Not devils; for they can do nothing but by God's permission. The Lord is the Strength of my life; literally, the stronghold (comp. Psalm 28:8; Psalm 31:4; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 144:2). Of whom shall I be afraid? The question is superfluous, but is repeated to complete the balance of the clauses.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?.... The Targum in the king of Spain's Bible explains it, "the Word of the Lord is my light"; and so Ainsworth cites it; that is, Christ the eternal Word, in whom "was life, and that life was the light of men", John 1:4; and the psalmist is not to be understood of the light of nature and reason, with which the Logos, or Word, enlightens every man that comes into the world; nor merely in a temporal sense, of giving him the light of prosperity, and delivering him from the darkness of adversity; but of the light of grace communicated to him by him who is the sun of righteousness, and the light of the world; and by whom such who are darkness itself, while in an unregenerate state, are made light, and see light; all the light which is given to men at first conversion is from Christ; and all the after communications and increase of it are from him; as well as all that spiritual joy, peace, and comfort they partake of, which light sometimes signifies, Psalm 97:11; and which the psalmist now had an experience of; enjoying the light of God's countenance, and having discoveries of his love, which made him fearless of danger and enemies: and such who are made light in the Lord have no reason to be afraid of the prince of darkness; nor of the rulers of the darkness of this world; nor of all the darkness, distress, and persecutions they are the authors of; nor of the blackness of darkness reserved for ungodly men; for their light is an everlasting one, and they are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light: and the more light they have, the less fear; and what made the psalmist still more fearless was, that Christ was his "salvation"; by the light which the Lord was to him, he saw his need of salvation, he knew that his own righteousness would not save him; he was made acquainted with the design and appointment of the Lord, that Christ should be salvation to the ends of the earth; he had knowledge of the covenant of grace, and faith in it, which was all his salvation, 2 Samuel 23:5. Salvation was revealed to the Old Testament saints, in the promises, sacrifices, types, and figures of that dispensation; and they looked through them to him for it, and were saved by him, as New Testament believers are; and they had faith of interest in Christ, and knew him to be their Saviour and Redeemer, as did Job, and here the psalmist David: and such who know Christ to be their salvation need not be afraid of any person or thing; not of sin, for though they fear, and should fear to commit it, they need not fear the damning power of it, for they are saved from it; nor of Satan, out of whose hands they are ransomed; nor of the world, which is overcome by Christ; nor of the last enemy, death, which is abolished by him; nor of hell, and wrath to come, for he has delivered them from it;
the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? meaning not of his natural life, though he was the God of his life, who had given it to him, and had preserved it, and upheld his soul in it; but of his spiritual life: Christ is the author of spiritual life, he implants the principle of it in the hearts of his people, yea, he himself is that life; he lives in them, and is the support of their life; he is the tree of life, and the bread of life, by which it is maintained; and he is the security of it, it is bound up in the bundle of life with him, it is hid with Christ in God; and because he lives they live also; and he gives unto them eternal life, so that they have no reason to be afraid that they shall come short of heaven and happiness; nor need they fear them that kill the body and can do no more; nor any enemy whatever, who cannot reach their spiritual life, nor hurt that, nor hinder them of the enjoyment of eternal life.
The Treasury of David
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?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation." - Here is personal interest, "my light," "my salvation;" the soul is assured of it, and therefore, declaring it boldly. "My light" - into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to see our own darkness and to long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. Salvation finds us in the dark, but it does not leave us there; it gives light to those who sit in the valley of the shadow of death. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light; he is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that he "is" light; nor that he gives salvation, but that he is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God has all covenant blessings in his possession. Every light is not the sun, but the sun is the father of all lights. This being made sure as a fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, "Whom shall I fear?" A question which is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it is based upon a very different foundation; it rests not upon the conceited rigour of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I am. "The Lord is the strength of my life." Here is a third glowing epithet, to show that the writer's hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We may well accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from him who is the author of it; and if he deigns to make us strong we cannot be weakened by all the machinations of the adversary. "Of whom shall I be afraid?" The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. "If God be for us," who can be against us, either now or in time to come?
This verse records a past deliverance, and is an instance of the way in which experience should be employed to reassure our faith in times of trial. Each word is instructive. "When the wicked." It is a hopeful sign for us when the wicked hate us; if our foes were godly men it would be a sore sorrow, but as for the wicked their hatred is better than their love. "Even mine enemies and my foes." There were many of them, they were of different sorts, but they were unanimous in mischief and hearty in hatred. "Came upon me" - advanced to the attack, leaping upon the victim like a lion upon its prey. "To eat up my flesh," like cannibals they would make a full end of the man, tear him limb from limb, and make a feast for their malice. The enemies of our souls are not deficient in ferocity, they yield no quarter, and ought to have none in return. See in what danger David was; in the grip and grasp of numerous, powerful, and cruel enemies, and yet observe his perfect safety and their utter discomfiture! "They stumbled and fell." God's breath blew them off their legs. There were stones in the way which they never reckoned upon, and over these they made an ignominious tumble. This was literally true in the case of our Lord in Gethsemane, when those who came to take him went backward and fell to the ground; and herein he was a prophetic representative of all wrestling believers who, rising from their knees shall, by the power of faith, throw their foes upon their faces.
"Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear." Before the actual conflict, while as yet the battle is untried, the warrior's heart, being held in suspense, is very liable to become fluttered. The encamping host often inspires greater dread than the same host in actual affray. Young tells us of some -
"Who feel a thousand deaths in fearing one."
Doubtless the shadow of anticipated trouble is, to timorous minds, a more prolific source of sorrow than the trouble itself, but faith puts a strengthening plaister to the back of courage, and throws out of the window the dregs of the cup of trembling. "Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident." When it actually comes to push of pike, faith's shield will ward off the blow; and if the first brush should be but the beginning of a war, yet faith's banners will wave in spite of the foe. Though battle should succeed battle, and one campaign should be followed by another, the believer will not be dismayed at the length of the conflict. Reader, this third verse is the comfortable and logical inference from the second, confidence is the child of experience. Have you been delivered out of great perils? then set up your ensign, wait at your watch-fire, and let the enemy do his worst.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 27:1-14. With a general strain of confidence, hope, and joy, especially in God's worship, in the midst of dangers, the Psalmist introduces prayer for divine help and guidance.
1. light—is a common figure for comfort.
strength—or, "stronghold"—affording security against all violence. The interrogations give greater vividness to the negation implied.
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