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Psalms 27:1-13 - Homilies By W. Forsyth

True religion.

True religion begins with God. It is a call on his part; it is a response on ours ( Psalms 27:8 ). With some religion is a chance, as settled by birth. With others it is a custom—something received by tradition from the fathers. With others it is a convenience, the result of education, a matter of prudence and self-interest, something necessary to respectability and comfort in the world. In all such cases there may be the form, but there cannot be the power, of godliness; there may be certain earthly advantages, but there is no real profit, neither the promise of the life that now is, nor of that which is to come. But with all who are taught of God, religion is a choice—the free, settled, rejoicing choice of the heart. It is God manifesting himself to the soul, and the soul in love and trust uniting and binding itself to God to be his and his only for evermore. True religion is characterized by—

I. PERSONAL TRUST IN GOD , AS THE LORD OUR GOD AND OUR REDEEMER . "When I sit in darkness," says Micah, "the Lord shall be a Light unto me" ( Micah 7:8 ). So says David here (verse 1). We need "light," from the beginning to the end of our life. God is our Light. All real illumination to the mind, the conscience, and the heart, is from him. Light is revealing. As we draw near to God, the mists and clouds of passion and self-love are driven away, and all things stand out clear and distinct as they really are. There is not only the revelation of ourselves, but the revelation of God. We see ourselves as sinners, guilty and vile; we see God as a Saviour, and we trust him utterly ( John 1:5 ; John 8:12 ; 1 John 1:5 ; 2 Corinthians 4:6 ).

II. FEARLESS DEVOTION TO THE SERVICE OF GOD , AS THE FREEST , THE RIGHT - FULLEST , AND THE MOST BLESSED OF ALL SERVICES . Religion is more than knowledge, or feeling, or obedience to the moral law. It is a life. It not only implies trust, but love and service. There are difficulties and trials. We look back and remember times of danger (verse 2). When we were in straits and fears. But God brought us help. As it was with David ( 1 Samuel 17:37 ; 1 Samuel 30:6 ), so it was with us. In thought of what God has done for us, we strengthen our hearts. Confidence comes from experience. Whom we have tried we trust. The friend we have found faithful, we cleave to. The physician, whose remedies we have proved good, we confide in. The commander under whom we have conquered, we follow bravely to other fields. So do we trust in God. Looking to the future, we may imagine greater trials and distresses than we have yet encountered (verse 3). The psalmist conjures up a terrible scene. As in a picture, we see the mustering of the forces, the proud array of the enemy with tents and banners, the shock and terror of the battle, when host met host in furious strife. But, like the psalmist, let us not flinch or fear. God is with us. "In this will I be confident" ( 1 Kings 22:19 , 2 Kings 6:15 ; Acts 20:24 ).

III. INCREASING DELIGHT IN GOD , AS THE SATISFACTION AND JOY OF THE HEART . Religion establishes right relations between the soul and God. Every barrier is removed, and free access and friendly communion have been secured. This is beautifully brought out in the words, "One thing have I desired of the Lord" (verse 4). One thought has the mastery. One desire gives unity and concentration to all effort. One affection binds the heart and the life into a holy fellowship. God is All and in all. The singleness of purpose branches into two main streams. One is meditation : "To behold the beauty of the Lord;" the other is like unto it, practice : "To inquire in his temple" (verse 4). This shows the bent of the renewed soul. There is an inward relish for what is good. There is a delight in all that is true and beautiful. Every living soul is an inquirer. Truth is not born with us, nor can it be obtained without our own efforts. It must be sought for its own sake. It must be wooed and won from love, that it may be a possession and a joy for ever. All right inquiry is practical. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Thus coming to the light, and walking in the light, "we have fellowship with God, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." We have safety and peace (verses 5, 6).

IV. ABSOLUTE SURRENDER TO GOD , FOR TIME AND FOR ETERNITY . True religion hinds us to God, not only for life, but for ever. This is impressed in the prayer, which implies:

1 . Deep humility .

2 . Help aspirations .

3 . Complete submission .

4 . Victorious faith .

Three things are deprecated, rising one above the other in fearfulness. Displeasure (verse 9); rejection, "Leave me not;" abandonment (verse 10). But instead of these, we see, by faith, a glorious victory, and we hail its coming with renewed courage and praise (verses 13, 14).—W.F.

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