Second Baptist Lincoln
March 17, 2019
My Light and My Salvation
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?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
Something happened last Sunday. The time changed. Some of you heard that you gained some daylight. Others thought you lost daylight. I know all of you lost some sleep. Daylight savings time was originally implemented to make better use of the available daylight hours for agriculture and construction. I think something we ALL have noticed is that our days are getting longer. Almost immediately after the Winter Solstice, we begin to see a few extra minutes of daylight each week, until eventually we can enjoy early morning walks in the summer as well as late evening yardwork.
What really makes a difference is in the mood of people. The lack of daylight deprives us of certain hormonal benefits that are generated by sunlight. In the winter time, many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which causes depression during the later fall and winter and tapering off toward spring. We need light. Plants need light to produce certain chemicals to create green – a process we know as photosynthesis. We need light to produce certain hormones.
We also find numerous places in scripture that speak of the benefits of the divine light. Jesus, the Light of the world. The Lord God, the Light and our salvation. This morning as part of this continuing series during Lent of looking at the Psalms, we find a very comforting and meaningful Psalm that speaks to our dependence and relationship to God as the light of our life. Last week we looked at Psalm 91 which was a cry for help and an assurance that God will save us in our most dire circumstances.
Today’s text is not unlike last week’s scripture. In this case, it boldly proclaims in the first verse that “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Yesterday at our American Baptist Churches of Nebraska state leadership meeting held in Gibbon, I gave a devotional based upon another similar Psalm, Psalm 46 which one of our favorite cantatas was based upon. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble…though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the seas…though the waters roar and foam.” Most of these Psalms have similar themes, progressions and a profound dependence upon the power and grace of God. In today’s reading, it is difficult to determine if the writer of the Psalm is speaking about an actual battle with swords and spears and armies – or if the writer is speaking metaphorically about the battles of life, against evil, against adversity and hardship.
For us, it IS a metaphor. We are not in actual military battles, but we are certainly in the metaphorical battles of life. And so we find hope in these words of the Psalmist. I think hope is one of the greatest, and most constant need of the follower of Christ. We are in the season of HOPE as we pass through Lent. Our hope is in the cross and the resurrection. Just as Advent is a time of anticipation of the coming of the savior, Lent is a time of anticipation of the fulfillment of that salvation on the cross. Hope is a powerful thing. G.K. Chesterton said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is a thing with feathers/ that perches on the soul.” The dictionary describes hope as “To have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”
The Bible teaches us something vastly different about hope. It doesn’t mean WISH, it means KNOW. It isn’t “I hope tomorrow will be better.” It is “I KNOW tomorrow will be better.” Jeremiah 17:7 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Instead of the word “confidence”, the King James uses the word “Hope”. Our hope is not a wishful thinking, it is a trust and confidence. Ours is a trust and confidence based upon our past experience of seeing and experiencing the faithfulness and love of a God.
David begins this Psalm by declaring his hope and confidence is in God. God is his LIGHT and his SALVATION. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” The Lord goes out before us into the darkness and forges a way for us. Whenever I hear this verse, I think of the Israelites in the wilderness after escaping from Egypt. God provided a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night for them to be guided through the wilderness.
They were never lost, because their travels depended upon trusting the cloud and the light. The Psalmist in 119:105 says God’s word is our light, but in today’s text, it says that the Lord is our light and our salvation.
As light, God delivers his people from darkness. This is a metaphor we use for all kinds of sin and bondage. Addiction, human trafficking and prostitution, pornography, abusive behavior. These are all wrapped in the kind of darkness referred to in scripture.
God has called us out of the darkness and into the light of his love. We are not intended to dwell in the darkness, yet often we choose to do so. Often we are the victim of other people living in darkness. When their sin affects us, we are caught up in their darkness. But one of the reality of light, is that it is stronger than the darkness. Light can fill a dark room, but dark can not fill a light room. It is only the absence of light that brings darkness. I can light a match in a room full of darkness, and it will illuminate the room enough for there to be visibility and shadows. Darkness cannot penetrate a room full of light. We need to allow God’s light to shine in our lives and bring us hope even when darkness begins to try and creep in. God’s light is more powerful and present.
Secondly, God is called “Our Salvation.” We can be rescued in no other way than by God’s love and grace. This was true for the Psalmist David, and it is true for us. The psalmist David seems to be in deep distress. The first few verses are likely to have been composed by David when he was in the midst of war. His enemies were around him. Also, it appears that he may have been cut off from access to the Temple, the house of the Lord. Now, he longs for the house of the Lord where his salvation can be found. Chances are, he is referring to a physical, military rescue when he is referring to Salvation, but it is a perfect metaphor for our own spiritual salvation when we are cut off from the house of the Lord. We may be cut off because of our circumstances. I think of some of our shut-ins who are unable to physically go to church because of being confined by their own physical disability. As I’ve conversed with them, they describe to me how much they miss being here and seeing those they love, worshiping God together with other Christians. There are others who are cut off from being here by their own choice. They have fallen away from God or perhaps their priorities have changed. Maybe some are kept away because of work schedules or family issues. They have made a choice.
In verse 4, David describes his deep desire to be in the house of the Lord and dwell there forever. This isn’t talking about heaven, this is talking about worship in the tabernacle. He says it in the previous chapter, 26:8 “I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells.”
In Psalm 85:10, we find these words. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” I believe there is a connection between being present and engaged in the House of the Lord, and living in the love and protection of God. So many people today have this disconnect between being active in worship and church life, and being connected to God. They think they can somehow live a Christian life outside of the church fellowship. I don’t believe it. I think we live in God’s light by dwelling in God’s temple and corporate worship. I think we draw our life and light from our connection here,
Certainly, we need to have our alone time with God. That is vital. Absolutely God is out there on that golf course or out by that lake where we park our camper. But those who love and support us are here. Lifting our voices together in praise is an experience like no other. Being at the lake alone with God is no replacement for being part of the congregation of praise. David hungered to dwell in the Lord’s house. I hope we have that same desire to enter into worship with others. It should have less to do with what the sermon topic is for the day. It should have less to do with what songs we sing. It should have everything to do with our desire to worship God in the midst of Christian fellowship with other believers.
In Psalm 84, David even envies the little birds that make their nests around the tabernacle, because they can be near the house of the Lord all the time. David has a desire to be where the Lord is. Now I’m not saying that this place is the only place he Lord dwells. We know that after Jesus died and rose from the dead, that the human body and spirit became known as the temple where God dwells. Through the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God dwells within us. We can always spend time with God because he lives with us and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul says in I Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”. Still, our desire is to be in this physical presence of God with his people. Not just to be present physically, but to be open and receptive to God moving in our lives.
A couple weeks ago, I challenged you to add something new to your spiritual walk with God. Do something new and enriching to add to your relationship with Christ. It isn’t ONLY being here this morning that changes us, but also it is us opening ourselves to God’s movement in our lives. We have many priorities in life. People at the time of the Psalmist did too. The Psalmist though declares that his primary goal is to nurture his relationship with God. Is that a goal that we share with the Psalmist? I think many of us want to grow in our relationship with God. We want to understand more when we read the Bible and have God’s Word speak to us. We want prayer to be a vibrant, dynamic part of our lives. We want to be able to sense God’s presence in our lies and to experience that peace that passes understanding. We want a life that is abundant and free.
We are challenged to nurture that relationship. Relationships are built on more than texts and emails. Relationships need desire—a need to experience more. Relationships also need time. The Psalmist declares that he’s going to take the time to accomplish his desire. It is pleasing to God to have us experience such a life, also. The Psalmist identifies such a life. In verse five, he talks about how the Lord has set him on a high rock. In other words, God has made him safe and secure. In verse six. He says that his head will be lifted up above his enemies. Not that enemies can be eliminated, nor is there the elimination of trials and tribulations. Enemies will still be there. God’s presence, though, brings the security and strength to overcome those difficulties.
As we continue to spiritually walk through this Lenten season and seek to grow in our relationship with Christ, this offers us insight into the attitude and aspirations of a Psalmist (probably David) a long time ago. In the 21st century, it brings us hope when so many people are in despair. It brings us joy and contentment when many are caught on fear and anxiety. The Lord is my light and my salvation. He is ight in a dark world, and salvation in a time when rescue seems impossible. God is our hope, the resurrected Christ is our rock and assurance of life and freedom from the brokenness of sin.