תהלים Tehilim (Psalms) 27

By Levi Clancy for לוי on
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Psalm 27 has the same motif as Psalm 11; both psalms deal with a pious protagonist on the verge of an attack, yet safe within the shelter, the refuge, the warm presence of God.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

As in Psalm 11, the author first declares his faith, then takes a few verses to describe how God will vanquish earthly attackers who rally against he who is safe within the refuge of God. Then the Israelite continues,

4 One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.

5 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 set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is 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.

The author emphasizes his piety: he yearns to be in the presence of God, to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; live means to worship, and house of the Lord refers to Solomon's Temple. The author then returns to the role of faith as providing a refuge. His piety will keep him safe within the cover of the tent, a poetic phrase referring again to the temple, which is high on a rock, referring to Jerusalem as the sacred mountain, the axis mundi of the Israelite worldview. Seated atop a hill, with its height accentuated by deep values on three of its four sides, Jerusalem was situated high and held high. After describing the adoration felt for God and the protection given by God -- two phenomena which perpetuate one another -- the Israelite reasserts his confidence amidst enemies, and the gratitude expressed to God through sacrifices, adoration and overall exalted worship. The rest of the psalm reiterates the motif of overcoming obstacles via faith, and the role of God as a refuge.