Psalm 27 – Waiting and Worshipping
How much waiting do we do in life? That’s what I want to begin by talking about this morning. Who likes waiting for things? Anybody? Let me stand in line for a while or make me wait in traffic and I’m good! Probably not. To avoid waiting is one of our number one priorities in life! How long do I have to sit in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? How long do I have to wait on hold to schedule an appointment? Can I order online instead of wait in line? When’s my package from Amazon arriving? Or who likes waiting through ads to watch a video? Back in the day tv was all commercials-now it’s annoying to see that little phrase-skip ad in 25 seconds-and you think that’s forever! How long a wait is the drive through? Why is the line at the grocery store so long? And the most important question-how long does it take to get there? Google maps, Apple Maps, Waze, however you get your directions. But who doesn’t love it when you GPS on your phone asks if you’d like to save 2 minutes by turning here-Yes! This is amazing! Like you just found the secret way that nobody else knows about who’s waiting in traffic. But that’s where we do a lot of waiting. And who hasn’t found themselves rushing to get some place, irritated that you’re waiting at the red light or waiting to exit, but you don’t really want to be there anyway? We so hate waiting that still we rush to get somewhere even though we’re dreading it-work, or an appointment or a meeting or a visit to the dentist-why did I rush in the first place-I’d rather be back in the car! But having to wait is one of the most difficult things we wrestle with in life.
And when you look at the numbers it’s actually quite staggering. Research shows that over the length of a person’s life we will spend 3-5 years waiting in line. So if you go to Disneyworld a lot you may be on the upper end of that! 6 months of our life is spent waiting at traffic lights (and wouldn’t it be great to knock it all out at once-camp out at a red light for 6 months and never have to wait again!) We also spend about 20 months of our lives waiting for our spouse or children (so husbands and wives-I’ll let you argue over who’s waiting longer for who!) We also spend about 17 months of our lives waiting for dinner to be ready or our food prepared-so if you get hangry that’s a hard 17 months. Then we wait 5 months of our lives for slow technology (seems like more with all the new updates to install!) But the last one-we can be thankful we don’t live in England-they spend 4 months of their lives waiting for the kettle to boil to have a cup of tea! Having lived there-that is no lie-I think we know people who doubled that wait time!
But clearly we don’t like waiting for things-and yet I want to ask this morning what is the value of waiting? Is there value in waiting? How would you answer that? Is all this time we spend over the course of our lives waiting for things simply just wasted time? Needless frustration we have to endure? Or is there a purpose to it? Are there things we can learn, ways we can grow, anticipation we can build when we have to wait? And even more than that-more than bad traffic or slow technology-how is God using the waiting in our lives to shape us? Or do we just wish that God would get on with it, do what we ask Him to do; to instantly fix things? Why the delay, Lord, let’s get this going! As we dive back into the Psalms this morning we’re going to see the value of waiting-what it means to be a people patiently waiting for God. But we’re also going to see what we don’t have to wait for-the things that are immediately available when we trust Him.
And that’s what first shows up when we look at Ps 27. You can open up your Bible or we’ll have it on the screen-Ps 27:1. And this is a famous verse-one of the most famous opening lyrics in the Psalms. Certainly the opening of Psalm 23 is probably the most famous-The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. But this one would be a close second. Once again, this Psalm was written by David so if he was putting together a greatest hits album-Ps 23 would be the opening track-but Ps 27 wouldn’t be far behind and definitely included on the album. And what we need to notice right away is how it says something about God-but it also says something about us. Same formula in Ps 23:1–The Lord-that is God-is my Shepherd. That’s who He is. He’s in control, He’s in charge, He’s knows where He’s going and where to lead me- so I (meaning me David-but also you and me and all who read that Psalm) shall not want. That’s the part about us. David says we don’t have to wonder or worry or hope God’s got this-if He is our Shepherd, since He is our Shepherd-I shall not want. And it’s the very same formula with this Ps 27:1–The Lord is my light and my salvation-meaning that’s who He is. As the light He is One who reveals the way, brightens our path, dispels the darkness, brings clarity and order to our lives so that we’re not left stumbling around in the shadows and unsure where to go. As our salvation-He’s our deliverance, our hope, our future, the One who has literally saved us from the darkness and condemnation of our sins-and thirdly, David says-He is the stronghold of my life-meaning He’s our refuge, our protection, our place of safety and security, the One we can rest in, trust in, and always go to. That’s who God is-our light, our salvation, and our stronghold. Those truths will never change about God. So what does it say about us? How does that impact us? David says-whom shall I fear, of whom shall I be afraid? If the Lord is my Shepherd-I shall not want. If the Lord is my light, my salvation-of whom shall I fear? He’s saying that’s the logical result if that’s who God is. And what’s the answer to that question? How is David expecting to respond when he asks himself of whom shall I be afraid? There’s a few people out there who make me scared, Lord. There’s a couple of people that get my stomach all in knots, I don’t know what to say to them, they make me petrified. If you knew these people you’d feel the same way. No-when David asks of whom shall I be afraid-the answer is no one! And that’s not because He’s some really brave guy who doesn’t fear anybody-but because the Lord is His light and salvation and stronghold-and because of that there’s no one or nothing to fear. And it’s no different for us.
So Pt1:God’s Comforting Presence: Instantly available when we turn to Him. That’s not something we have to wait for. Back to where we started this morning-there’s lots of things we do have to wait for-but God’s comforting presence isn’t one of them. It’s immediate and instant.
God doesn’t put you on hold-or say I’ll get back to you shortly. But rather in the moment, exactly when you need it, no matter where you are or what you’re going through or what you’ve done-Pt1. A great example of this is Jonah-and the reason is because of what he’d done and where he is. Remember how God said to go this way to Nineveh-and he went that way to Tarshish. It was the total opposite-clear cut disobedience. If anybody had a right to be mad at Jonah it was God. It’s like when you tell your children don’t do that-and that’s exactly what they do. That was Jonah. And where did it land him-Jonah 2:1. Does it get any worse than that? Just think about it. It’s totally dark-can you see anything under the water inside a fish? And then it’s got to be stinky and sloshy! I think the sloshiness would get to me! Is there a worse place to be anywhere in the world? Try to come up with something worse! But the point is that even there-the worst place on the planet-God’s comforting presence was instantly available. Previously Jonah had turned away from God-but now he turned to Him and God answered. Listen to the rest of this-Jonah 2:6-7, 9b. And that’s the very thing David is saying in Ps 27 that the Lord is his light and his salvation. Jonah realized that God was his light in the darkness of the fish’s stomach-and his salvation from being digested and turned into fish food (which came in the form of barfing!) And while I trust that none of us literally end up inside a fish, we may feel just as trapped right now, just as stuck and stifled and stressed out and sacred. You might feel like the darkness is closing in around you, there’s no escape, nothing you can do-worst place ever-but your prayer can be Jonah’s prayer. Your confidence can be David’s confidence. That in the very midst of whatever you’re going through-in the darkest and most difficult hour-back to Pt1. The very moment you need the Lord, He’s there when you cry out to Him. Look at-Ps 34:17-18; Ps 46:1. Does it get any more instant than a very present help? There’s no wait time-it’s immediate. Who wouldn’t want a very present pizza when you’re hungry, or a very present snack when you’re starving-there it is? But that’s exactly what happens when we’re overwhelmed by people and situations in life-not the very present pizza but the very present help of the Lord. That when we’re caught off guard or find ourselves surrounded, He’s there. And that’s exactly the sort of situations that David describes.
Look at-Ps 27:1-and now he gives some very real examples that he’s faced-Ps 27:2-3. And maybe you identify with that-once again it’s probably not actual armies surrounding you or physical warfare you’re facing-even though that is the case for many people across the globe. But you might feel like you’re surrounded by adversaries that are out to get you, people who want to see you fail. That instead of eating you up they’re using their words to slander and tear you down. Maybe it’s people close to you who have turned on you, maybe it’s pressure at work or marital strife or financial problems-but when David says an army has encamped against him-you’re saying-Amen-there’s an army encamped against me. But your confidence can be just as strong as David’s-and that’s because your confidence isn’t based on you-it’s based on the Lord! Listen to David’s reply-Ps 27:4. That word inquire means seek, reflect, meditate on, focus on, to gaze upon the Lord. Because when we take our eyes off the Lord, that’s when disaster strikes.
When we start staring at that army around us, when we only see the war and the conflict waging around us-and all the obstacles we face and lose sight of Him-that’s when our confidence and hope fades. Have you been there? I certainly have-looking at all my troubles and difficulties and challenges and then start freaking out and letting discouragement settle in! But picture David-he’s just said that an army has encamped against him-which he experienced many times in life from the Philistine armies, to Goliath shouting taunts, to Saul and his men chasing him down, to many other military campaigns. David knows that just over the ridge, just around the corner, hiding out-there’s a group of soldiers ready and wanting to destroy him. And yet he’s confident!Why? Because he’s gazing upon the Lord and setting his sights on Him. He’s not looking to his surroundings, but to the one who can save him. And when David does that-what happens? Next verse Ps 27:5. This is an expanded description from v. 1 of the Lord being our stronghold. Did you see all that He does? He will hide me, He will conceal me, He will lift me high-it’s all from Him-and did you see where it occurs-in His shelter, under His tent. When you turn to the Lord, when you seek His face and focus on Him-His presence literally surrounds you with peace and protection. That where you are is where He is-and you no longer need to think of yourself surrounded by the enemy but secure in Him-and dwelling in His place. I love how spatial these words are. Do you picture yourself there? That’s where you are when you’re trusting in Him.
Listen to how David describes the result-Ps 27:6. David is rejoicing because he has once again experienced God’s comforting presence-even when he’s in the presence of his enemies. They’re still all around him-but David is trusting in the Lord who’s even closer. What does it say in Ps 23:5. And what if you trusted that God would do that in your life? What if you believed that instead of your enemies having you for lunch-God prepared you lunch? That He set out a table of provision and protection and blessing for you-even when you’re in the presence of your enemies? It goes without saying that it’s easy to trust the Lord when times are good and everything is smooth-sailing-how hard is that-but the real test of our faith comes when times aren’t. What do you do then? When the seas are rocky, the skies are stormy and there’s an army encamped against you? That’s when it matters most! That’s precisely when you have to seek the Lord and gaze upon Him-and not give all your attention to what’s around you. Ask yourself-when surrounded by enemies, when encircled by challenges and obstacles that seem completely impossible-do you spend more time looking at them or the Lord? Do you spend more time worrying about what you’re up against than who you’re trusting in? Which one weighs out?
I love how focused David is with this-Ps 27:7-8. He’s so straightforward-and so should we! Are you seeking the Lord’s face? And that’s really another way of describing His presence-that instead of staring your fears in the face-and then freaking out-are you seeking the Lord’s face and being strengthened? And of course we do that by reading and soaking up the promises of His Word. We do that by coming to Him in prayer. When was the last time you had an authentic, heartfelt, face-to-face moment speaking to the Lord? We seek His face through faith-it’s a spiritual reality, not physical-but it’s so meaningful! When was the last time you poured out your heart to Him, held nothing back and spoke openly and honestly about what you’re facing and fearing? To tell the Lord about the challenges and armies encircling you-saying-Lord, I have no where else to turn but you-and that’s okay because you’re all I need! Has it been awhile since you’ve done what David is describing. Maybe you never have. There is no better time to seek His face than today. That’s what this Psalm is commanding. Pt1:God’s Comforting Presence: Instantly available when we turn to Him-and let me add that He’s-Closer than anyone else.
Other people will abandon us and let us down-but not the Lord-Ps 27:9-10. And He always will! As a believer, the Lord will always be there for you! Other people will come and go in life-even those closest to you. And maybe you’ve experienced that. David is describing some of the closest people we have in life-our mom and dad. Even they may turn away and abandon you-but the Lord never will. He’s always with you. You can always rely on Him and count on Him. At the end of the day when everyone else is gone, when no one else understands, when it doesn’t seem like anybody cares-the Lord does. He’s there for you, He loves you and He’s with you. What was the very last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven-Matt 28:20. Jesus is saying that there’s never a time He isn’t with you! Always means always! To the end of the age-when this world ends and eternity begins. People, possessions, your place in life, your position in the company, the house you live in, the car you drive-it will all come and go-but the Lord won’t. He’s the one thing you can always count on. He’s not going anywhere. Everything changes in life (wish that wasn’t the case). Everything has it’s season, everything comes to an end-but the Lord doesn’t. When was the last time you remembered that? When was the last time you turned to the One who’s always with you? When was the last time you entrusted your life to the One who knows you best? To the One who’s writing your story and knows exactly what He’s doing?
That’s what David does-and this is where it all funnels down-Ps 27:13. This is an incredible statement of faith. David has so much confidence and trust in the Lord that he can say without a doubt that he’ll see God’s goodness unfold in his life. That’s what he means by the land of the living. It’s some science fiction planet or prehistoric place-the land of the living-this refers to now. Planet earth-David’s life. I believe that I will see God’s goodness unfold in my life-no question about it. That’s what David is saying. And remember the context of this psalm where David was surrounded by an army of enemies-that even in that situation he would totally see God’s goodness emerge. He knew God would be with Him and take care of him. So this is a statement made in confidence and worship-v. 13. Can you make that statement in your life? Do you believe that in whatever you’re going through; whatever is surrounding you and scaring you and stressing you out-that you will see God’s goodness unfold in your life? Or do you doubt that any sort of goodness can emerge from this? That God’s goodness is long past and not even possible in light of this? That this is anything but good! It’s easy to think that way-but David’s reminding us what a life of faith is all about-and here’s where the waiting comes in. God’s comforting presence is always instantly available-but the unfolding of His goodness takes time.
How does David conclude this Psalm 27:14. Words we don’t like to hear-but are so necessary-wait for the Lord. At the beginning of the message we asked the question is there a purpose to waiting? Are there things we can learn, ways we can grow, anticipation we can build when we have to wait? And according to this verse there is. We are reminded, we are commanded to wait for the Lord. And that’s the other side of the coin-Pt2:God’s Abundant Goodness: Slowly revealed when we wait on Him. Now we know that God is always good-everything He does is good-but seeing those good plans unfold in our lives takes time and requires patience. It doesn’t happen overnight. What does it say in Rom 12:2. We know that’s true. David knows that’s true. The question is whether you’ll trust God and wait on Him to see His perfect will revealed in your life-or will you grow impatient and take matters into your own hands? Will you give up on the waiting and say enough’s enough, Lord-I know what I’m doing, you’re moving too slow for me, I’ll take it from here. When was the last time you did that or said that to the Lord? When was the last time you tried to forge ahead because God was taking too long? When God’s timetable isn’t our timetable we get restless, we rush it and try to take over and insist on our way. But we can’t do that-Prov 3:5-7. Back to Pt2-and you can add this:Far better than anything we could imagine.
Again-we know that-but don’t we wish God would just snap His fingers so we could instantly see that, every detail of our lives unfolded-to say-Okay, you’re right, Lord everything worked out for good-your will was best-I see that now-so carry on. But that’s not faith-having to see it all in front of you isn’t faith-and how are we called to live? By faith, not by sight. Waiting on the Lord puts us in that place of faith where we’re supposed to be. Waiting on Him is a good thing. Have you ever thought about that? Waiting isn’t because God’s moving too slow or trying to play catch up because He’s busy running the universe and there’s a lot to do. Waiting isn’t some cruel trick God plays to toy with your emotions or stress you out. Waiting is exactly what He wants you to do because that’s when you are able to trust Him. Waiting is when you are able to agree with this truth and say-Lord, I don’t see what you’re doing, I’m not sure how this is going to work out at all-but I know you are a good God. I know you are my light and my salvation. Your will is good, pleasing and perfect-far better than anything else-and what’s happening to me now is a part of that-so I will wait on you. It isn’t easy, Lord, help me in my impatience-but I will wait on you. What keeps you from saying that? I like the words from Boice, 243. I wish he wouldn’t have included that last sentence! It’s way too convicting-but it’s so true. Are we a people willing to wait? Do we consider it a privilege to wait on God? Ask yourself this-Is God’s will best-or do I still think my will is best? That’s what it comes down to. When you believe God’s will is best-waiting for it is a joy! Isaiah 40:31. Let us be a people of waiting-let us be a church of waiting!