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God, Our Light and Our Salvation

Psalm 27:1–2 (ESV) …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.”

How do we visualize God? The teachings of the Apostle Paul may give us the best answer, that God “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16). For this reason, it is a bit of a surprise to learn that, although God is often associated with light in the Bible, this verse is the only direct application of the name light to God in the Old Testament.

Job speaks of heaven as the “abode of light” (Job 38:19). Psalm 104 says that God “wraps himself in light as with a garment” (v. 2). Several verses affirm that “the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Sam. 22:29; Ps. 18:28). Psalm 36:9 declares, “In your light we see light.” However, Psalm 27:1 is the only Old Testament text in which God is actually called light.

We have to go to the New Testament to find a good parallel, and when we do, we find light is a name for Jesus Christ: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.… The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:5, 9). John, who makes this identification, also says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

What is this image supposed to mean? Here the term is not specifically explained. So, it could suggest illumination, purity, joy, life, and hope, among other things. But since David is thinking about his enemies and is seeking deliverance from them, the psalmist is affirming that even in the darkness of the terrible threat of war, he has no fear, for God is the light that can dispel such fearful darkness.

In verse one we also find the Hebrew word for salvation, which means “deliverance” explicitly, and again this probably has to do with deliverance from the king’s immediate enemies. The very next psalm expresses the same idea when it says, “The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one” (Ps. 28:8).[1]

When we know that God is with us, then we are not afraid. We are willing to make decisions knowing that the Lord will see us through. There is much inner courage and strength that is gained by His presence and by our experiences of His delivering us out of adversities.[2]

[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 239). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Everett, G. H. (2011). The Book of Psalms (p. 92). Gary Everett.


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