“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:13-14).
King David, the man who composed this psalm, knew trials and difficulty. He was unjustly pursued by King Saul; he was betrayed by his own son; and he lost his best friend, Jonathan, as a casualty of war. Yet, with confidence he proclaims his belief that God’s goodness and faithfulness are both tangible and knowable in this life. Where does this assurance spring from? I believe there are several indications earlier in the psalm that point to what has strengthened David’s faith in His good God.
Psalm 27 begins with a description of the LORD as David’s “light and salvation,” and also the “stronghold of my life.” He therefore asks, “Of whom shall I be afraid?” He knows that the LORD has upheld him faithfully in the past, and though he has many enemies, God has sustained Him and helped him through many trials. Was he always removed from those trials? No. Did he suffer losses? Absolutely. But he realized the truth that God is the fortress we run to in prayer when battles are fought, when troubles are rising, and when sadness overwhelms us.
We are encouraged in Psalm 32 to seek the LORD while He may be found, and that’s exactly what David has made His life’s ambition: “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” (Psalm 27:4). Seeking God’s presence at all times, not only in difficult seasons, is key to God revealing His amazing character to us. When we see the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ, when we clearly experience His goodness revealed in Scripture and observed in our lives, the fog of doubt and questioning that obscures our view of God during hard times does not become for us a permanent dwelling place. His light can pierce through and guide us. His goodness can still be “tasted and seen” (Psalm 34:8).
We are exhorted by David to wait for the LORD: he repeats it twice at the conclusion of Psalm 27. He seems to say that even if the goodness of God in our situation is hard to see, we should not despair, but continue on in faith. God can also use the suffering we experience to demonstrate His goodness to others. All of us as believers in Christ can point to the cross, where Jesus died on our behalf, as the most extreme example of suffering pointing to God’s goodness and mercy. And God uses the trials in our lives, and what we learn from them, to show others the “goodness of God in the land of the living.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:3-5). Let us take every opportunity to seek the Lord and experience His goodness, that when difficulties abound, we can cling to our good God, sharing in His comfort. He is the One who can enable us to be strong and courageous as we wait on Him.