Wednesday of Pentecost 17 – Psalm 27:1-9

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked 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 gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!

“I’m gonna beat this,” she told me with fierce determination. In truth, her words were somewhat coarser, and this is a devotion, so I will not tell you exactly what she said. The cancer which had been diagnosed and was growing in her body was the enemy. David speaks of evil doers who assail him and devour his flesh. That is a pretty good description of cancer. Luther spoke of three great enemies of the Christian: Sin, Death, and the Devil.

Today we face many foes: the COVID virus, social unrest, the causes of that unrest, and even the very world in which we live. As I write these words an ominous yellow cloud of smoke has descended upon the city of Portland. At least one of my colleagues has abandoned his church building and is wondering if it still stands. People I know have lost their homes to the inexorable advance of flames. By the time you read this, it is likely that the situation will have changed, but may well have been replaced by yet another disaster. Hurricane? Earthquake?

David speaks of confidence. The Lord is his light and salvation. Who will make him afraid now? The enemy will stumble and fall. Here the Christian needs to make a careful parsing. David knows he will spend eternity in the house of the Lord. My friend who gritted her teeth and fought courageously against cancer eventually succumbed to it. Did that mean that God had failed? Hardly. Her resurrected body will be cancer free, and free of any other ailments for that matter. She had a touch of arthritis in her hip. You could see it in the way she walked up steps. On that glorious day, David’s confidence in this psalm will perfectly describe her.

Everything, our very lives, hinges upon the grace of God. Look carefully at the final verses of this psalm. David knows it. He can have the best retirement plans, the biggest nest egg, take immaculate care of his health, and all will be for nothing without God’s favor. He has and yearns for the grace of God. Such is the life of the Christian.

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