Advent Psalm reading for December 11, 12, & 13: Psalm 27.
Psalm 27 is one of the many psalms attributed to David, King of Israel. The psalm emphasizes God as an anchoring presence, an inspiration for courage, and a personal guide. God is referred to called, strength, shelterer, and protector. Up to this point during Advent, the psalms we have reflected on include powerful laments about the destruction and crying out to God for deliverance. However, in Psalm 27, we read about the weakness of enemies in the face of God’s strength and courage.
The LORD is my light and my help;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life,
whom should I dread?
When evil men assail me
to devour my flesh—
it is they, my foes and my enemies,
who stumble and fall.
Should an army besiege me,
my heart would have no fear;
should war beset me,
still would I be confident.
In this second week of Advent, my reflection centers on taking comfort and finding solace in the presence of God. In the following verses, the psalmist declares his absolute and unparalleled desire to exist in the presence of God without distraction.
One thing I ask of the LORD,
only that do I seek:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,
to frequent His temple.
As an ancient Near Eastern King, it would have been the king’s privilege to live in or near the temple of worship. The psalmist recognizes the beauty of God’s dwelling place, and furthermore, he acknowledges the safety of the temple. God’s house is a house of refuge—a sanctuary from pursuit. Instead of fighting for his life, the psalmist can participate in worship.
He will shelter me in His pavilion
on an evil day,
grant me the protection of His tent,
raise me high upon a rock.
Now is my head high
over my enemies round about;
I sacrifice in His tent with shouts of joy,
singing and chanting a hymn to the LORD.
And what does the psalmist pray for? He begs to be heard. He begs to be seen and known. The verses that follow make a universal appeal. We all long to be seen, heard, understood, and known.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
have mercy on me, answer me.
In Your behalf my heart says:
“Seek My face!”
O LORD, I seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not thrust aside Your servant in anger;
You have ever been my help.
Do not forsake me, do not abandon me,
O God, my deliverer.
Though my father and mother abandon me,
the LORD will take me in.
This appeal for intimacy is extraordinarily appropriate in Advent. As we meditate on the meaningful event of the birth of the Messiah, we are increasing our awareness of the Messiah as God incarnate. The coming Messiah is an answer to the prayer in Psalm 27—God’s love made known, personally, intimately, and vulnerable among humanity. The final verses appeal to justice and righteousness.
Show me Your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my watchful foes.
Do not subject me to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses and unjust accusers
have appeared against me.
Had I not the assurance
that I would enjoy the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living…
Psalm 27 focuses on the security and safety of God’s presence while also making an appeal for God’s right to justice to protect against the lies and injustice of enemies. We may find a place of rest and peace in God’s presence.
Look to the LORD;
be strong and of good courage!
O look to the LORD!
Psalm 27, rich in its assurance and hope, echoes through the corridors of Advent and reminds us that God’s justice is not merely a call to arms but a call to peace, a sanctuary for the soul. In the midst of the bustling season of Advent, Psalm 27 stands as a beacon of tranquility, urging us to find our refuge and strength in the divine.
In my journey through the psalms, especially those from the Northern and early traditions of the Hebrew Psalter, I have encountered a breadth of emotional experiences and complex metaphors. Yet, in the familiar verses of Psalm 27, a psalm often sung and prayed in the church, I am reminded of the universal message of hope and peace that transcends time and tradition. This Advent, as we anticipate the birth of the Messiah, we are called to remember that God’s incarnation is not just an event of the past, but a continuous promise of presence, justice, and peace in our lives.
The psalms I have explored in this Advent, including Psalm 27, challenge the misconception that the Old Testament is solely about war and retribution. Instead, they reveal a God deeply concerned with righteousness, safety, and the well-being of the vulnerable. In this season of anticipation and reflection, let us embrace this understanding of divine justice as we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. May the assurance of God’s unfailing presence and the promise of divine peace guide us through this season and beyond.
As we continue our Advent journey, let us carry with us the lessons of Psalm 27, holding fast to the belief that in God’s presence, we find our true sanctuary, our unshakable peace, and our enduring hope.
Coming Up on An Advent Psalm Reflection
In the second part of this installment, I will read Psalm 27 in light of other liturgical readings to reflect on themes of advent.
This entire series and a link to the liturgical readings on the Advent Psalm Reflections page.
*The translations are JPS from Sefaria.org
Dr. Erica Mongé-Greer, holding a PhD in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen, is a distinguished researcher and educator specializing in Biblical Ethics, Mythopoeia, and Resistance Theory. Her work focuses on justice in ancient religious texts, notably reinterpreting Psalm 82’s ethics in the Hebrew Bible, with her findings currently under peer review.
In addition to her academic research, Dr. Mongé-Greer is an experienced University instructor, having taught various biblical studies courses. Her teaching philosophy integrates theoretical discussions with practical insights, promoting an inclusive and dynamic learning environment.
Her ongoing projects include a book on religious themes in the series Battlestar Galactica and further research in biblical ethics, showcasing her dedication to interdisciplinary studies that blend religion with contemporary issues.