Updated: Oct 19
I've spent a good bit of time in Psalm 27 lately.
About three months to be exact. What's funny is I picked up the study book about Psalm 27 called "Encamp" because it sounded sort of like "summer camp" or "fun campout" to me. Truly, it was nothing like that.
At first, I thought, "how hard could it be to spend eight weeks in one Psalm?" The intention was to slow down, take it sentence by sentence, word by word. There was no skipping over things, consuming huge swaths of information, and feeling accomplished over an expansive theological dive. This was deep work and it required more of my heart than I expected. Sort of like a steady hike, I found the slower I went, the more I got from Psalm 27.
Looking over the passage, you will see it's not that long - only 14 verses in fact. You don't actually need a study, but because I love books, I chose to work through a written study companion. In true step-by-step fashion, I steadily plodded my way through the devotion book, "Encamp: A Field Guide to the Relentless Pursuit of Jesus" by Jennifer Edewaard.
Just for context, Psalm 27 was written by David. Not everyone can agree why, some say it was written before he became a king, others when he was older. But what is evident is that he was in a wilderness season and desperately seeking God's care, provision, and protection. It feels like a declaration both out loud to himself and to the closing enemies that God is on his side.
When I began the study, I didn't know how much I could relate to David in the wilderness, longing for confidence in times of fear. But looking back, I see that sometimes fear is a quiet thief, seeping into anxious conversations, nights lying awake, bickering with your spouse. Sometimes it can be big stuff, but sometimes wilderness can be a stale state of living where you have no idea what is bothering you.
For me, wilderness felt like an undercurrent barely detectable below the surface of life. Lying awake at night, wondering what if x happens. Replaying conversations with others when I clearly said something I regretted. Situations with loved ones that I didn't handle well out of fear, out of worry, out of insecurities. Sometimes wilderness is there below it all, seeping its darkness in subtle ways.
If you saw me in the grocery store among the lettuce and said, "hey, real quick, what did Psalm 27 teach you?" I would say, it gave me words to speak over myself when wilderness times show up. It pointed out to me that if I'm stewing and fretting, I've got my mind on myself. I can recite the words of Psalm 27 and be reminded again of where my confidence is - I can trust in the man who died for me, Jesus.
In the words of the author, Jennifer Edewaard, "This psalm is an anthem of battle-tested faith." I long for that. I long for these words to come surging up in me when wilderness times come, as they always do. Jennifer gives so many lovely insights that stay with me still, but particularly, I love her invitation to "light gospel fires and encamp with the Lord relentlessly."
So in the end, these last few months, I did get to camp out. Through the beauty of Psalm 27, sometimes we need to hang out with scripture before it can work its way into our hearts. And when I begin to fear, I can pray its life-giving words of provision and protection. I can claim that anthem of battle-tested faith for myself.
Psalm 27 taught me how to enlist the beauty of scripture for provision in wilderness times.
PS. If you haven't read Psalm 27 lately, you can check it out here.