There is a story that is told about Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he was sensing God’s call upon his life and was thinking about leaving his promising career as a Harley Street doctor in London in order to become a minister of the gospel. His wife, Bethan, asked him a question in order to help him think through this important decision. She said, “You know that you can do medicine, but how do you know that you can preach?” Lloyd-Jones responded by saying, “I know that I can preach, because I can preach to myself.”
It is with this story in mind that I write this article now. You see, I have recently been spending a good bit of time meditating on Psalm 27. I have been preaching this great psalm to myself over the last few months. And it is precisely because I have been preaching it to myself that I believe there may be something of benefit here for me to share with others.
The last number of months have been difficult for me and my wife. We have wrestled with God’s providence in a way that we haven’t for some time. And so, I have found myself gravitating to Psalm 27. I have found refuge not so much in the explicit declarations of confidence that David gives in the first six verses—although they are indeed glorious expressions of a vibrant trust in the Lord in the face of difficulty—but instead in the implicit, almost overlooked, phrase that David uses to address God in verse 9. He refers to Him as “you who have been my help.” This phrase has resonated with me in recent months.
In this one pregnant phrase, David is letting us know that, in the face of whatever adversity or opposition he is facing, he has been recounting the many ways that God has delivered him in the past. He has no doubt been reminding himself of the times when God delivered him from lions and bears, enabling him to defend his earthly father’s sheep, and from the giant Goliath, enabling him to defend his heavenly Father’s sheep (1 Sam. 17:34–36). And the point of all these reminders is that David might be encouraged in his present circumstances that the God who has been his help in the past will surely be his help in the present. The current circumstances of David’s life may well tell him something quite different than what is actually true. His circumstances may tell him that God doesn’t care or that God has forgotten about him. They may tell him that God is not working for his good. But the past deliverances of God clearly testify to David that his current difficulties will not in fact hold sway.