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God’s Presence, God’s Promises

We need to make space and wait on the LORD with expectation.


There’s no title it just says, Of David. We don’t know for sure, unlike some of the psalms, the situation at the time but we do know David was under attack from enemies, being pursued and hounded by them. He went through various times that could fit.

It seems like he couldn’t go to the house of the Lord, the temple at that time, maybe he was on the run. We know he was often being lied about, and at times even his family were against him, his brothers, even his dad discounted him.

So if you’ve had any times like any of those this psalm fits well and if not, we know these kinds of things can happen. Hard times. This is a song of high praise for hard times and you know what when you can still sing the high praises of God in hard times that proves the reality of your faith. And strengthens it.

In church we might have a time and say “Turn to someone and share a way God blessed you in the week.” And what first comes to our minds? I got a promotion. I had a windfall. How about I was blessed because I got persecuted? But he gave me the words to say in that moment of rejection. I was blessed because I’m mourning and God’s meeting me in that to comfort me.

We only get stronger through resistance. I admit to being a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first movie I ever took my wife Zoe to see was that great Rom Com Commando. She hated it. I read an interview where Arnie was asked by a guest, “What are your goals, and what daily actions did you create that brings you closer to them?” His reply, “Goals for this year: A) Read the Bible from cover to cover at least once. To achieve this goal, I am reading from 3 to 5 chapters every day (with some days dropped occasionally). B) Exercise more than last year ….”

I wonder how many of us will join him? The little things, repeated over time, make the gains. That’s how you build the body we call the church too. It matters what we feed on but also we don’t get strong without resistance. It’s no good sitting on the exercise bike looking at your phone. If you want to get stronger, increase resistance!

I always expect God to speak to me when I come to his Word. It’s not just ticking off the chapters like a TO DO list. The readings are not done until they have done something in me, and I do something about that.

Psalm 27 is a song of lament and longing, warfare and worship, persecution and presence. Some of the psalms talk to God, some of them talk about God. Here David is talking to himself as he sings. That’s a good thing! Or it can be if we’re speaking the truth. Don’t pretend you don’t talk to yourself. But does that voice in your head tell the truth? And David speaks to God about it all.

He says the Lord is my light … this is personal application. Speaking it out. Singing it over himself. Reminding himself who God is and who God is to me. It must have been a really dark time. He sings firstly to remind himself about God’s promises—he can rely on God no matter what.

(Read Psalm 27:1-6)

YHWH Is My Light

When you have light with you, you can see the way forward through the darkness. We sing, “My lighthouse ….” Yes the world can be dark, but God is our guiding presence. Jesus came as a light into the darkness saying “I am the Light of the world, and whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” We can walk in the light now.

That’s also why the church exists. To be the light of the world. But do you remember when they were saying we were going to have power cuts this winter? I think some of us may have had them. What happens? When there is no light, there is no power. And no salvation. What an image.

In Revelation, Jesus wrote to seven churches and whenever one was drifting into compromise or failing him, or the people there were forgetting their first love he said “Look out—I’m going to take your lamp away.” They’d never believe it could happen, till it happened. Churches that at the time looked strong and thriving, saying “We have everything we need!” He said, “You don’t know you are naked, and poor and wretched and blind.” Why? “I’m standing here knocking at the door – but you won’t let me in!” Now you go to those places and there are no churches there.

We are not our own light. Isaiah says don’t try and light your own way. In Psalm 18:28 David says, “You LORD, keep my lamp burning! My God turns my darkness into light.”

He’s My Light and He’s My Salvation

When he puts the light on I see it, he’s the only one who can save me. Is the light of Jesus that we’re to shine before people growing dark? Are we plugged in, or what could have cut us off from our power source? Too busy? Independence? Sin? Is the church of Christ disappearing into a dark night?

For the first time the census in the UK showed less than half of respondents ticked the box saying Christian. But really, was it true before? What would the nation look like if half the people were Jesus followers? Most of them are not church goers and even among church goers, how many churches are going anywhere? How many would say I trust the Lord for my salvation because I know I need that and nobody else can do it?

We can’t afford to ignore it or explain away the obvious. How many churches can point to anyone who’s turned from sin to the Saviour in living memory? Many of them would say you don’t even have to do that. No light. No power. No salvation. No transformation. No fruit. Shrinking. Shrivelling. Declining. Dying.

You start to live like that and you’ll find the reality that the devil is your enemy, and he’ll send attacks against you. David says they are like wild animals coming to devour and oppress him. They’re surrounding him. This was how they did warfare in those times, they besieged you, to starve you out, to get you feeling alone and desperate and fearing the worst. They are encamping against him. It’s a day of trouble and that phrase was used at the time to mean a military campaign.

But he says you know what? All those enemies are going down. I don’t live in fear of them. I don’t have to run and hide from them. I run and hide myself in God. I find his presence. I wish, I long to be in that place, in the temple, where it’s just you and me God. If I am there, in the holy of holies, who can touch me? You’re inviting me to come into your pavilion, your tent, under your covering.

Do you ever feel that way too, when you know God is above us and all around us? David wants to dwell in God’s dwelling place. We’re desperate for his presence, God is all I want.

I want to see your beauty! It’ll all be okay there. You’ll lift my head up! I won’t drown or go under! When I look to you!

That’s my one thing, David says. To make you my one thing God. That’s all I need. Like Paul said in Philippians 3 “I just want to know Christ!” I want to know you Lord To feel your presence. To focus on you Lord like Mary did, sitting at your feet and loving you and being loved by you.

That’s my posture, even in the battle. That’s when I know God’s doing only what he can do. He’ll fight the battle I can’t win. I’ll do my part and that’s outlined in Exodus 14:14, I’m going to see it that “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”

I believe that’s what he wants us to do. To learn to switch off, and plug in. To abide, to hide in the shelter of his wings, to rest in his love. To get so quiet, we can listen.

That’s how he always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ. So, David says I know if I can get quiet, one day soon I’m going to get noisy again because you’re going to hear me bring a shout of joy. The Hebrew word used here often appears in military stories in the Bible when a victory comes.

David’s Problems

The next section is when the psalmist sings and gets real about his problems. We can do that too. You may have some of the same, we all have some of our own. But don’t just moan about them. Bring them to him. Cast your cares upon him because he cares for you.

(Read Ps. 27:7-12)

In verse seven he says, “Hear, O LORD!” I want to tell you specifically the things I need you to help me with. It’s too much, too big, too hard for me. And we come because he’s been calling us to, “Seek my face ….” God wants us to seek his face. I don’t know what to do. Seek my face. I don’t know which way to turn. Seek my face.

Through it all, he’s always saying “Come to me—all you who labour and are heavy laden—I’ll give you REST….” God says yes I will come but you know what this is like when you are trying to pray. We say, “I’m going to seek his face!”

We get in that place, but then we realise what you brought with you. Crowding in. Maybe it’s an awareness of your sin, have I hurt God by what I did? Did I grieve the Holy Spirit and shoo the dove away? Or I’m trying to find his presence but there’s this problem I can’t stop thinking, distractions, or worries. What do I do? Tell him. Voice them.

“Lord I know you know, but I want to get specific and say it out loud, so when you answer everyone gets to see it and I never forget it. I will tell you what the problem is and then trust that you can do it, because I am confident that you will hear, that you will listen - and you can do it. You will answer me! You said I can seek your face, well here I am Lord! I won’t be satisfied, until I see you!”

Oh Lord, you’re beautiful. Your face is all I seek. For when your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds to me …

Verse 10, David says, “my family have left me.” The people meant to be closest. But you are here, you will lift me up. Verse 11, “People are lying about me!” Falsely accusing me. Misrepresenting and slandering me.. But you are the Truth!

So Lord I’ve told you my problems, because God I know I can trust your promises, when I just sit and wait, in your presence.

God’s Presence

(Read Ps. 27:13-14)

I would have lost heart (anyone else resonate with that?). But he shall strengthen your heart. You’ll get your courage back. If you see his goodness. Not just when you get to heaven, but here and now. In the land of the living. He’s going to bless us. If we will wait. While we wait. You know like those signs say “While you wait.” Repairs done, while you wait.

I don’t know if any of you went to the Festival of Praise at the AO Arena? I arrived at 6pm, a little late, but felt okay because it was billed to run until the morning. Even then these things often get filled up with program but there was excitement as 15,000 came to fill pretty much every seat. And we were there to seek his face. From the first speaker through every singer and band, though I knew some names and not some others the talk was all about Jesus. Nobody was looking at their watches.

Some time around 10pm a singer put down his trumpet and said, “The Holy Spirit is here, let’s be silent and welcome his presence.” Within a few minutes, we all knew the anointing, overwhelming, presence of God—come to counsel and comfort, to convict the world with regard to sin and righteousness and judgement. He shared a simple gospel message, in about a minute.

The world is broken, all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, yet in love God sent his one and only Son into the world. Not to condemn it, but to save us. So he can give us power now to change what we could never change ourselves, to be who he made us to be through his death on the Cross and resurrection from the grave. He invited anybody who had drifted away from faith to turn from sin, to come to God. And then he simply called all who wanted this new life to make a first-time commitment to Christ right there and then, and indicate this by raising a hand—so we could pray with them too.

Now through all of this, the presence of God, you have to realise was heavy. As I looked around, I saw many hundreds, all kinds of people around that Arena where not long ago death and horror reigned. Hands held high. Men, women, young people. Hands up everywhere. Many in tears, others smiling broadly because this was now a holy place, the Lord was manifest! Where he had been so royally welcomed and honoured by praise. The King had come.

I prayed with a few people in front of me as I felt led to by God. One young man in his early twenties, Danny – was open mouthed throughout much of the time and just smiled saying, ‘It’s real! It’s real!’ as he received and was filled with the excess love of Jesus.


Church, it’s not about our services, our styles, our structures, or our strategies. We need the Spirit! We need to make space and wait. But not just wait, wait on the LORD with expectation. Wait. He says it twice. Wait.

I heard someone say he was on a plane and this fly was buzzing around and how annoying it was. But then he thought, why is it flying – on a plane? Why does the fly, fly on a plane? Maybe it’s because it thinks it’ll get them somewhere but it may as well just—wait. Sit still, stop flapping.

Anthony Delaney is a Leader at Ivy Church in Manchester. He is also the leader for New Thing and the LAUNCH conference. He is an author and hosts the television show “Transforming Life.”

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