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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? . . .

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 (Psalm 27:1, 4).



What do you fear most? Saint Augustine (354–430) observed that most people fear pain, death, and the loss of loved ones.[1] We might easily add to that list. Which raises a question: Where can we turn during moments of panic?

In Psalm 27 God interposes himself between us and our deepest fears and provides us the path to inner tranquility. We learn that it’s not found by denying reality, but by lifting our gaze heavenward, prizing our communion with God, and relying on his promises.


David is honest about what he’s facing. Evildoers, adversaries, and foes surround him (vv. 2, 6, 12). False witnesses “breath out violence” against him (v. 12). Undoubtedly, the threats and snide remarks of his enemies play on repeat in his mind. All the “what ifs” are paralyzing. He must feel like he’s hanging on by a spider-web-thin thread.

His response is instructive. Rather than trying to control his circumstances, he enjoys intimate fellowship with God (vv. 4–13). But he does more than plead for God’s intervention (vv. 7–12); he prizes communion with God (v. 4). The “one thing” he asked of the Lord was not protection from his enemies or a military victory, but to dwell in God’s presence and “gaze” upon the Lord’s beauty. To “gaze” means to admire and enjoy with sustained focus.[2]

David’s singular petition unveils the reason for his confidence. His enemies cannot touch his greatest treasure: God. David would heartily agree with Justin Martyr’s (100–165) response to his persecutors: “You can kill us, but cannot do us any real harm.”[3]

His confidence reaches a crescendo in verse 13: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” God will deliver his people—either from death or by death. Either way, he brings his children into “the land of the happy life.”[4]


Life in a sin-drenched world is far from safe. It’s blanketed by losses, betrayals, tripwires, and a stalking adversary (1 Pet. 5:8). But God . . . God has claimed us as his own. More than that, he controls all things and providentially orders everything to his intended end.

We can trust him because his grace and mercy are visibly embodied in the greater David—his Son, Jesus Christ. The One whose face David longed to see (Ps. 27:8) came in human form. He lived for us, died for us, rose again on our behalf, and intercedes for us now. Run to him. Trust him. Love him.


[1] Augustine, Soliloquies, trans. Kim Paffenroth, ed. John E. Rotelle (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 36.

[2] Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms (New York: Viking, 2015), 49.

[3] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin, the Martyr,” in Early Christian Fathers, trans. and ed. Cyril C. Richardson (New York: Touchstone, Simon &Schuster, 1996), 243.

[4] Augustine, The Happy Life, in Trilogy on Faith and Happiness, trans. Roland J. Teske, Michael G. Campbell, and Ray Kearney, ed. Boniface Ramsey (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2010), 26.