I’ve loved this Psalm for a while now. It’s been a solace and refuge over the years. But not until recently have I seen it as a Psalm that is filled with grace. You won’t actually find the word “grace” anywhere in it, but its fingerprints are everywhere.
I think the reason I see grace in it now is because of this definition of grace I came across earlier this year.
Grace: Everything that God is, given freely to us for the benefit of our own lives. ~Sally Clarkson
I LOVE this definition. (You can read more thoughts on it in last month’s post on grace.) It reminds me that grace is a gift – the gift of God Himself and all that He embodies. And that gift is given to benefit me. What a radical truth! This definition of grace is exactly what John 1:16 teaches,
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (ESV)
We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. (MSG)
It is with this fresh understanding of grace that I read Psalm 27. Through this lens, it is easy to see that this psalm is filled with God offering Himself and His fullness to the psalmist in varying and significant ways. It also showcases how God’s gift of Himself benefits the Psalmist in real, practical, daily ways.
Let’s take a look at 3 ways grace gives and 3 results of grace found in this psalm.
(The text below is taken from The Message. Verse notations are included if you want to look it up in another translation.)
Grace gives security (v 1, 3b)
Light, space, zest – that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool.
These words (light, space, zest) probably aren’t the first ones you think of when describing God. But it’s part of His fullness that He gives to us. If you stop and think about what these words mean, you will find they are profoundly meaningful gifts to your daily life.
Light enables me to see the road in front of me and know which way to go. It also chases away the darkness and shadows. Light causes me to see things from God’s perspective and not my own.
Space entails freedom. There aren’t prescribed requirements or rules. The Christian life isn’t designed to box us in but to set us free. (Read more about this idea in my post-Grace Gives Freedom to Be Yourself.)
Zest is an exuberance about life. It is an ability to enjoy things and enables hope to be present even in the most difficult seasons of life.
No wonder the psalmist, after thinking of these truths, declares that he is fearless, collected and cool. These gifts from God’s fullness benefit him by providing security that he desperately needs. What a beautiful picture of grace!
This God who is full of life, space and zest is on your side too! There is no need to fear being in relationship with others. No need to fear an unknown and daunting future. No need to fear failure or misunderstandings. God is with you and for you! What grace!
Grace gives companionship (v 4-5)
I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing; To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world. The perfect getaway far from the buzz of traffic.
Most likely you have lived alongside others at some point in your life. There’s nothing else that causes you to know others better (or for them to know you!) than doing this. There’s only so long that you can put on a front or be your “best self.” Eventually, your heart showcases its true colors – selfishness, frustration, or anger arise.
Why then, would this be THE ONE THING the psalmist asks God for? Think about what it would be like to live with God in His house. (Think about this in real life. Not like in heaven one day. But right now. What would it be like if Jesus, flesh and blood, had a room in your actual house.) I had to consider this for a while before I saw the beauty that it would actually offer.
If Jesus had a room in my house, I would find that He wouldn’t surprised to see my true self. He already knows my heart better than I do after all! His forgiveness and restoration of an offended relationship would be quick and sincere. I would find that there was no need to hide any part of me. He would accept every single bit. He would bring His light, space and zest into my home and change its atmosphere for the good. In essence, He would offer His faithful companionship for the duration of my life. What a gift!
The psalmist must have been convinced of this too. Which is why he asked for this one thing above anything else. Perhaps the psalmist also realized that beholding Jesus day in and day out in such close proximity couldn’t help but change him. He would contemplate and study Jesus, and his heart, mind and resulting life would be changed.
God created people in order to be in intimate relationship with them. He desires to live close. He offers companionship in a very real sense. And when we receive this gift? We find a safe haven. A quiet and secure place. A refuge in which we can be our true selves.
Grace gives acceptance (v 9, 11a)
You’ve always been right there for me; don’t turn your back on me now. Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me; you’ve always kept the door open. Point me down your highway, God; direct me along a well-lighted street.
Nowhere do we see a better picture of God’s welcoming acceptance than in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s easy to come up with reasons that the prodigal son deserved consequences, punishment, or even estrangement. You could even make a case that the older brother deserved consequences for his hard heart. But what did the Father extend to both of them? Unconditional love. Forgiveness. Welcoming acceptance. Grace.
God’s giving of Himself to us is not conditional. He will not abandon. He will not turn His back. He will not give up. He will remain faithful because He cannot deny Himself. (II Timothy 2:13) He accepts us not because of what we do but because of who we are in Christ. Our standing in the world is identical to Christ’s. (I John 4:17)
Grace results in joy (v 6)
God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I’m headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.
When you see and experience the depths of God’s grace to you personally, how can you NOT respond with joy that bubbles up into praise? After all, the God of the universe is giving to you of His fullness, of Himself. You are the beneficiary of that grace. You are the one whose life is changed.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
Grace results in desire (v 7-9a)
Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!
Do you sense the longing, the craving, in the psalmist here? The desire for God’s ongoing grace and the gift of Himself to be a part of his life is so deep and poignant that he cries out and his entire body responds with desire.
This is a natural response once you’ve experienced God’s grace. Once you’ve benefitted from light, space, zest, security, companionship, being seen as your true self, welcoming acceptance at all times, you can’t imagine living any other way. You have an insatiable desire for more of God and His nourishing commands. (Psalm 119:20)
Grace results in perseverance (v 13-14)
I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart, Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.
Look at the certainty with which the psalmist wraps up his thoughts. He’s sure of God’s goodness. And he’s sure that he will see it and experience it. This certainty causes him to exhort others to keep on going with God. Notice he doesn’t exhort us to just keep believing or keep trying to do something particular. His exhortation is to stay WITH God.
Keep living alongside Him. Keep receiving His companionship, security, acceptance and all the other gifts He gives from His fullness. Keep allowing His gift of Himself to grace your life.
If you stay with God, take heart and don’t quit, you too can experience joy, hope, lack of fear and a changed heart as you behold God who gives you richly all things (including Himself) to enjoy. (I Timothy 6:17)
What aspect of grace from Psalm 27 encouraged you the most? Which one do you most need for your life today? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
If you want to spend a bit more time in this Psalm why not use this 5×7 print to help you think on these ideas + Scripture?
If you’ve already joined our community, use your password to visit the FREE Resource Library page to find the download.
Want to access this resource? Just enter your email below.
(If this is the first month you’re joining us in this series, you can read more about One Word for One Year and what I’ve learned about grace in 2018.)