Verses 1–6

We may observe here,

I. With what a lively faith David triumphs in God, glories in his holy name, and in the interest he had in him. 1. The Lord is my light. David’s subjects called him the light of Israel, 2 Sam. 21:17. And he was indeed a burning and a shining light: but he owns that he shone, as the moon does, with a borrows light; what light God darted upon him reflected upon them: The Lord is my light. God is a light to his people, to show them the way when they are in doubt, to comfort and rejoice their hearts when they are in sorrow. It is in his light that they now walk on in their way, and in his light they hope to see light for ever. 2. “He is my salvation, in whom I am safe and by whom I shall be saved.” 3. “He is the strength of my life, not only the protector of my exposed life, who keeps me from being slain, but the strength of my frail weak life, who keeps me from fainting, sinking, and dying away.” God, who is a believer’s light, is the strength of his life, not only by whom, but in whom, he lives and moves. In God therefore let us strengthen ourselves.

II. With what an undaunted courage he triumphs over his enemies; no fortitude like that of faith. If God be for him, who can be against him? Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid? If Omnipotence be his guard, he has no cause to fear; if he knows it to be so, he has no disposition to fear. If God be his light, he fears no shades; if God be his salvation, he fears no colours. He triumphs over his enemies that were already routed, Ps. 27:2. His enemies came upon him, to eat up his flesh, aiming at no less and assured of that, but they fell; not, “He smote them and they fell,” but, “They stumbled and fell;” they were so confounded and weakened that they could not go on with their enterprise. Thus those that came to take Christ with a word’s speaking were made to stagger and fall to the ground, John 18:6. The ruin of some of the enemies of God’s people is an earnest of the complete conquest of them all. And therefore, these having fallen, he is fearless of the rest: “Though they be numerous, a host of them,—though they be daring and their attempts threatening,—though they encamp against me, an army against one man,—though they wage war upon me, yet my heart shall not fear.” Hosts cannot hurt us if the Lord of hosts protect us. Nay, in this assurance that God is for me “I will be confident.” Two things he will be confident of:—1. That he shall be safe. “If God is my salvation, in the time of trouble he shall hide me; he shall set me out of danger and above the fear of it.” God will not only find out a shelter for his people in distress (as he did Jer. 36:26), but he will himself be their hiding-place, Ps. 32:7. His providence will, it may be, keep them safe; at least his grace will make them easy. His name is the strong tower into which by faith they run, Prov. 18:10. “He shall hide me, not in the strongholds of En-gedi (1 Sam. 23:29), but in the secret of his tabernacle.” 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 serenity of mind in which they dwell at ease. This sets them upon a rock which will not sink under them, but on which they find firm footing for their hopes; nay, it sets them up upon a rock on high, where the raging threatening billows of a stormy sea cannot touch them; it is a rock that is higher than we, Ps. 61:2. 2. That he shall be victorious (Ps. 27:6): “Now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies, not only so as that they cannot reach it with their darts, but so as that I shall be exalted to bear rule over them.” David here, by faith in the promise of God, triumphs before the victory, and is as sure, not only of the laurel, but of the crown, as if it were already upon his head.

III. With what a gracious earnestness he prays for a constant communion with God in holy ordinances, Ps. 27:4. It greatly encouraged his confidence in God that he was conscious to himself of an entire affection to God and to his ordinances, and that he was in his element when in the way of his duty and in the way of increasing his acquaintance with him. If our hearts can witness for us that we delight in God above any creature, that may encourage us to depend upon him; for it is a sign we are of those whom he protects as his own. Or it may be taken thus: He desired to dwell in the house of the Lord that there he might be safe from the enemies that surrounded him. Finding himself surrounded by threatening hosts, he does not say, “One thing have I desired, in order to my safety, that I may have my army augmented to such a number,” or that I may be master of such a city or such a castle, but “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, and then I am well.” Observe,

1. What it is he desires—to dwell in the house of the Lord. In the courts of God’s house the priests had their lodgings, and David wished he had been one of them. Disdainfully as some look upon God’s ministers, one of the greatest and best of kings that ever was would gladly have taken his lot, have taken his lodging, among them. Or, rather, he desires that he might duly and constantly attend on the public service of God, with other faithful Israelites, according as the duty of every day required. He longed to see an end of the wars in which he was now engaged, not that he might live at ease in his own palace, but that he might have leisure and liberty for a constant attendance in God’s courts. Thus Hezekiah, a genuine son of David, wished for the recovery of his health, not that he might go up to the thrones of judgment, but that he might go up to the house of the Lord, Isa. 38:22. Note, All God’s children desire to dwell in God’s house; where should they dwell else? Not to sojourn there as a wayfaring man, that turns aside to tarry but for a night, nor 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; for there the Son abides ever. Do we hope that praising God will be the blessedness of our eternity? Surely them we ought to make it the business of our time.

2. How earnestly he covets this: “This is the one thing I have desired of the Lord and which I will seek after.” If he were to ask but one thing of God, this should be it; for this he had at heart more than any thing. He desired it as a good thing; he desired it of the Lord as his gift and a token of his favour. And, having fixed his desire upon this as the one thing needful, he sought after it; he continued to pray for it, and contrived his affairs so as that he might have this liberty and opportunity. Note, Those that truly desire communion with God will set themselves with all diligence to seek after it, Prov. 18:1.

3. What he had in his eye in it. He would dwell in God’s house, not for the plenty of good entertainment that was there, in the feasts upon the sacrifices, nor for the music and good singing that were there, but to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. He desired to attend in God’s courts, (1.) That he might have the pleasure of meditating upon God. He knew something of the beauty of the Lord, the infinite and transcendent amiableness of the divine being and perfections; his holiness is his beauty (Ps. 110:3), his goodness is his beauty, Zech. 9:17. The harmony of all his attributes is the beauty of his nature. With an eye of faith and holy love we with pleasure behold this beauty, and observe more and more in it that is amiable, that is admirable. When with fixedness of thought, and a holy flame of devout affections, we contemplate God’s glorious excellencies, and entertain ourselves with the tokens of his peculiar favour to us, this is that view of the beauty of the Lord which David here covets, and it is to be had in his ordinances, for there he manifests himself. (2.) That he might have the satisfaction of being instructed in his duty; for concerning this he would enquire in God’s temple. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? For the sake of these two things he desired that one thing, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life; for blessed are those that do so; they will be still praising him (Ps. 84:4), both in speaking to him and in hearing from him. Mary’s sitting at Christ’s feet to hear his word Christ calls the one thing needful, and the good part.

4. What advantage he promised himself by it. Could he but have a place in God’s house, (1.) There he should be quiet and easy: there troubles would not find him, for he should be hid in secret; there troubles would not reach him, for he should be set on high, Ps. 27:5. Joash, one of David’s seed, was hidden in the house of the Lord six years, and there not only preserved from the sword, but reserved to the crown, 2 Kgs. 11:3. The temple was thought a safe place for Nehemiah to abscond in, Neh. 6:10. The safety of believers however is not in the walls of the temple, but in the God of the temple and their comfort in communion with him. (2.) There he should be pleasant and cheerful: there he would offer sacrifices of joy, Ps. 27:6. For God’s work is its own wages. There he would sing, yea, he would sing praises to the Lord. Note, Whatever is the matter of our joy ought to be the matter of our praise; and, when we attend upon God in holy ordinances, we ought to be much in joy and praise. It is for the glory of our God that we should sing in his ways; and, whenever God lifts us up above our enemies, we ought to exalt him in our praises. Thanks be to God, who always causeth us to triumph, 2 Cor. 2:14.