Psalm 27

This psalm of David contains one of the most beautiful expressions of what I call ‘liberated desire,’ a topic that I discuss at length in my book Deeper Places, (Baker Books, 2013). Here we find David in one of the most difficult periods of his life. It was a time when he had nothing but God and a time when he discovered that all he needed was God. This does not take away from the grief and pain of the experience but in his seeking it appears that David’s desires were transformed. The more he sought after God the more he cultivated his desire for God so that, as the famous expression in verse 4 indicates, his desire for God outgrew every other desire in heart. Hence he was free from the tyranny of disoriented desire that so torments the human heart. It shows that true contentment comes not from getting what you want but reorienting your desires on the one whom desire itself was created for.
With the liberation of desire came freedom from fear. The one thing that David desired the most was the one thing he had and that he could not lose. It was the love and faithfulness of his God. And therefore, whatever the threats before him, David felt completely invulnerable. His confidence echoes that of Paul in Romans 8:28-39. He knew that nothing could separate him from the love of his God.
The second half of the psalm is a heartfelt prayer to God in view of his situation which David still felt the pain of. This psalm is probably set in the context of David’s desert period when he was a fugitive from Saul. We see a tension here between the reality of David’s situation and the divine promise given to him at the time of his anointing by Samuel. He had been anointed as King and yet now he was living in exile as a fugitive. As is always the case in the psalms the honest acknowledgement of the tension between human reality and divine promise becomes the seedbed for faith. David voices his grievance and resolves to keep seeking God. He believes that he will see God’s faithfulness. He just has to wait. And it is in life’s waiting rooms that that desire itself is refined and focused.

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