Fearless Leadership: Lessons from Psalm 27
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 evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. 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. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”Psalm 27:1-8 (ESV)
King David had plenty to be worried about. As we see at the beginning of verse 2, his enemies came at him with intentionality and great ferocity. He compared their hatred and violence to that of a wild animal—he says they came at him to eat up his flesh. No easy circumstance to contend with!
Do you feel overwhelmed, as though trouble has decided to visit your house with all its friends: sickness, financial insecurity, chronic conflict, unhappy marriage, out-of-control kids, and the rest? Do you feel like your prayers, prayed in sincerity and desperation, don’t make it above the ceiling? We’ve all been there at one time or another. And for some, that is a sad but accurate description of what life looks like right now. What did David share in this psalm that might encourage us today?
He opens up right away in verse 1 with a strong proclamation of his God-centered confidence. He declares,
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?
Perhaps he thought back to some of his many battles against hostile kings that surrounded Israel, remembering that victory is granted by Jehovah, his sovereign Lord. He no doubt recalled some near-misses, perhaps when arrows came whizzing by his head. David was always a target—of enemies both human and demonic. And as he recalled past victories that God had given, his confidence rose. It changed his perspective. In thinking of battle after battle, and defeat after defeat of his foes, he could reflect back and ask himself the question, “Whom shall I fear?”
In verse 3 he grows even bolder and declares,
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
Verse 5 tells us something that David had learned through his many trials and tribulations, hardships and difficulties:
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
There is a bad way to hide: obsessing with the endless assortment of entertainments of this world, such as movies, sports, pornography, and the list goes on. Pursuit of these things inevitably winds up in disaster—divorce, disastrous business decisions, loss of respect from one’s children,and more. Sin always produces a deep, inner sense of alienation from God. This is just where the enemy of our souls wants us. Then we devolve down to depression, or maybe addiction, or we shipwreck our lives.
The Good News is that we can call to God from out of the depths, as David demonstrates with redemptive joy in Psalm 30:1-4.
But there is also a good way to hide, such as what David describes in verse 5. He refers to a godly practice of routinely retreating from the noise and distraction of this world, and getting into the hidden place of being alone with God.
Let me ask: when was the last time you did that? When did you last identify some time, just to retreat—to get away and get alone with God? In short, how important to you is your intimacy with God? If you are a busy leader, you know that this is very tough to pull off, especially in today’s fast-paced, information-driven world.
But perhaps something inside of you is telling you—even as you read these words—that you must do precisely that.
How will you respond?
We conclude with the words of verse 8, what we might call David’s “secret weapon:”
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Let’s strive to make that the cry of our hearts—on a daily basis.