Confidence: Capacity or Crisis?
I don’t know if there’s anyone in Scripture who had more crisis moments than David. His life was full of intrigue, betrayal, being hunted as a fugitive, encountering threats and danger on a constant basis. David lived with perpetual circumstances that would cause fear. Many of his psalms are written out of times of fear, threat, and uncertainty. But there’s also another side to David’s psalms and how he responds to his circumstances. Psalm 27 is one of those psalms. It’s full of wonderful words that we treasure. This psalm never gets old and it’s words never become so familiar to us that they lose their impact.
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?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
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 seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
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,
O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
David uses this word confident twice in this psalm:
“Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”
After pleading with the Lord once again to be his help and to protect and save him, he declares,
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
As I was meditating on this psalm, I thought of David and his response to his circumstances: “The Lord is the strength of my life, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my stronghold, He is my helper, my light, my salvation.” I thought, what a capacity for confidence David possesses! The capacity of confidence: “Even if an army besieges me, even then I will be confident.” I also thought about the flip side: how we are often experiencing a crisis of confidence — how we are often shaken, overwhelmed with fear, feeling the threat of what is coming against us. So much of our prayer arises out of reaction to what is happening to us. There is a threat, there is a danger of some sort, there is a crisis in our lives, there is in our thoughts and imagination the possibility of what could happen. Much of our prayer is in response to these kinds of circumstances, these kind of possibilities. It is a reaction. As a reaction to our fear or to a threat we pray and plead with the Lord for help. But there is also another side here that is so important: many of David’s psalms were reactions to the circumstances that he was experiencing, causing him fear or bringing a threat to his life. But David said in this psalm that he would seek the Lord and that was the one thing he desired above everything else. David didn’t just react to his circumstances, David was proactive in seeking the Lord. That is why he had a capacity for confidence. “One thing I ask of the Lord, this one thing I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, to see Him in all of His glorious and infinite perfection.” David wanted to be in the presence of the Lord; he wanted to have vision and spiritual insight; he wanted to see beyond the natural and the physical into the spiritual realm and gain understanding, a glimpse of the greatness of God. That is how David gained this capacity for confidence. With the eyes of the spirit he saw the greatness of God; he saw the sovereignty of God and how God is transcendent above all, greater than anyone and anything. Then, when the crisis arose, he could say, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life. I’ve seen this One who is greater. I’ve seen this One who is all powerful over every circumstance, so why should I fear?” When armies surrounded him, he already had visions of how the Lord surrounds him like a shield. He already saw in the spiritual realm what an impenetrable shield the Lord’s presence was to him — nothing could get to him through the Lord! That is why he could say, “I lie down even though I am surrounded on all sides, and I sleep and I rest in peace — because the Lord is my shield.” (see Psalm 3.3, 5-6; 4.8)
Our crisis of confidence always comes because we are seeing the danger that is around us and it overwhelms our hearts. Because David had been in the presence of the Lord, he saw the greatness of the Lord surrounding him in the spiritual realm, then when he looked at the dangers in the physical realm they weren’t threatening at all in light of what he had seen of the Lord. Because he had been in the presence of the Lord he was able to project with faith, “then in the day of trouble the Lord will keep me safe. He will hide me in His dwelling, and I will be filled with songs of joy and deliverance.” That is why he could say, “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Something happens as we wait for the Lord, as we seek Him, as we gaze upon Him, as we spend time in His presence to see and understand Him with spiritual eyes. It’s not that He answers every question about every fear. It’s not that He responds to every threat with a specific provision: “this is what you can count on in this situation.” But something changes inside of us: our level of confidence changes, our level of trust changes because we are gazing upon Him and we are seeking Him. The Holy Spirit enables us to surrender our fears and concerns to the Lord and trust Him in light of what we are seeing of His unfailing love and His faithfulness. At that point I don’t need answers to every fear; I have the One who is the answer, I have the One who is all sufficient. I have confidence because I have seen Him. I know who He is, I know how much He loves me. I know how trustworthy He is in His character, I know how deeply He cares for me, how strong He is; I know that He’s in absolute control. I can trust Him in all things.
Through the Holy Spirit, David presents to us really a choice, that we can gain a capacity for confidence or we can stay in a place where we have a crisis of confidence and it depends on this one thing: will I seek the Lord?
So David responds, “My heart says to me, ‘Seek the Lord!’” His response? “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” And as he seeks the face of God, gazes upon the glory, the greatness, the love, the power, the faithfulness, the goodness of God, he is able to say, “No matter what, why should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
May that be the ambition of the hearts of God’s people: I want to seek the Lord and His face. I want to see Him. When I see Him, I will be confident in Him, for I will see all that He is as the One who is for me. So who could be against me?”
May we seek His face.