Psalm 27:1

There is no known character and career in Scripture that would correspond to this psalm as well as those of David. And it seems difficult to resist the conclusion that the words in ver. 10 were written about the same time that those in 1 Samuel 22:3 were spoken. The objection of Delitzsch, that David left his father and mother, not they him, is of no weight; for either way his peril and exposure were such that he was left without them; and we are left to wonder why they consented to be sundered from him. But these chequered experiences in life serve to bring out to him more and more fully the wealth of care and love that his God makes over to him. If we were asked whether this psalm is one of those which come directly from God, and so contain a revelation from him, we should reply, "It is one of those records of the experience of an Old Testament saint who could triumph in God as the revealed God of his salvation." What God was to the saints of old, he is to his people still. Therefore the psalm discloses God's revelation of himself to his people of the olden time, and it is one in which believers now may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And the expositor will have here a rich mine for exploration, as in the light of this psalm he studies God's self-revelation to his saints, and faith's response thereto. Let us study these in order.

I. WE HAVE HERE INDICATED THE FULNESS OF GOD'S SELF-REVELATION TO HIS SAINTS. The revelation of God which is implied in this psalm is one of exceeding tenderness, richness, and glory.

1. God himself had led the way in inviting souls to seek him. (Ver. 8, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face.") The heart of God desires the friendship and fellowship of man. Our hearts are so made they can rest only in God; God's heart is such that he seeks a rest in us. The fact of his giving an invitation to us to seek him is proof of this (cf. Isaiah 45:19; Iv. 6; 54:6). So also is the complaint of God when men do not seek him (Isaiah 43:23-26). And still more the declared joy of God when souls are at rest in him (Zephaniah 3:17). See this taken over to the New Testament (John 4:23). But the grandest illustration of all is in the fact (Luke 19:10) of which the whole of Luke's fifteenth chapter is the fullest declaration (still further, see Revelation 3:20). In fact, had it not been for this self-manifestation of God's heart, we must all have been agnostics for ever!

2. Wheresoever men open the heart to God's invitation, he proves himself worthy of himself. The student may well luxuriate in the various names which the psalmist delights to apply to God as his God. Note:

(1) The terms themselves.

(a) Light (ver. 1). "There shines on him [the psalmist] a sun that sets not and knows no eclipse. This sublime, infinitely profound name for God, אורִי, is found only in this passage" (Delitzsch, in loc.).

(b) Salvation (ver. 1). Spiritually as well as temporally.

(c) The Fortress of his life (ver. 1), in which he was perpetually hidden.

(d) Guardian (ver. 10). One who would manifest a tenderer care and love than even parents feel, and who, when they are removed from us, will be our Guardian still.

(e) Helper (ver. 9). Coming with timely aid in every emergency. Note:

(2) The individualizing care of God. The word "my should be emphasized in each case: my Light;" "my Salvation," etc. The experience of those who fling themselves on God's care and love is that he manages as beautifully and precisely for them as if he had no one else for whom to care. Hence the prophet's rebuke of the unbelieving suggestion to the contrary (Isaiah 40:27). If God were less than infinite, doubts might creep in. As Faber sings -

"That greatness which is infinite has room
For all things in its lap to lie:
We should be crushed by a magnificence
Short of infinity!"

II. THE RESPONSES OF BELIEVING HEARTS TO GOD'S SELF-MANIFESTATION ARE VARIED AS THE EXPERIENCES OF LIFE. The whole psalm is one of responsive faith; though that response may be sometimes a plea, or a sigh, yea, even a groan, and at other times a shout of song as with trumpet-power. We have all these stages in this very psalm. Listen to the varied phases of the psalmist's words. Here is:

1. Faith seeking. (Ver. 8.) It is an infinite mercy to hear the sweet whisper of God to the heart, "Seek me." It is so wonderful that there should be any such sound from God to the sinful heart - any sound so tender and sweet. And what should the response be but this, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek"? We may well seek the acquaintance of God as our God, to be our Leader, Guide, and Sovereign Lord, even unto death. Note: Let the coming sinner never forget that, if he is seeking God, God has sought him first. We may never lose sight of the Divine order, "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

2. Faith rejoicing in Divine companionship. (Ver. 4.) In the Lord's house, his presence was specially manifested; and those who know the Lord know well that there is no home like being by their Saviour's side, in his house. There they see the "beauty" of the Lord; i.e. his grace, his love, his mercy. There their eyes see "the King in his beauty." They "inquire" in his temple for directions for daily life; or they muse on the glories of the temple as the seat of Jehovah's presence. Yea, God's love and care make them so happy that they must give vent to their joy as with trumpet-song. We often long for greater physical power to praise God in shouting; and the use of trumpet and organ gratifies this longing. We praise God, but the organ gives the voice-power (see ver. 6, Hebrew).

3. Faith watching. (Ver. 2; cf. Psalm 92:11, Authorized Version, but leave out the words in italics; Psalm 37:34-47.) It should be no joy to the righteous to see any one in trouble; yet they cannot but praise God when infamous plots are discovered, and the saints of God are delivered.

4. Faith sheltering. (Vers. 1, 5; Psalm 91.) No one - in earth or hell - can ever forge the dart or weapon that can pierce the saints' stronghold. When the Lord is the Fortress of their life, they are in a citadel that can never be invaded.

5. Faith dreading. (Ver. 9.) The thing most to be dreaded is the hiding of God's face, and being cast off by him. And can faith ever dread this? Yes, indeed; for there are moments when the sins of the past do rise up so terribly into the memory, that for a while they seem to eclipse all besides; and then faith heaves a sigh and drops a tear. There may be as clinging a faith when uttering the wail of the first verse of the twenty-second, as when singing the peaceful song of the twenty-third psalm; for even in the darkest hour, faith says, "My God!"

6. Faith hoping. (Ver. 13; literally, "Had I not believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living...") The sentence is unfinished. The translators have well supplied the blank. The thought is," What would have become of me?" The trials of life are often so repeated and so keen, that were it not for God, his love sustaining the spirit under the weight of the present, and inspiring the heart with hope for the future, reason would give way, and the man be hopelessly crushed. It is God's love which makes life worth living.

7. Faith triumphing. (Ver. 1.) When we realize the glory of him whom we believe, there is no bound to our delight and exultation; and at such times we can laugh in defiance at our foes; yea, "smile at Satan's rage, and face a frowning world." We can, if need be, cherish something of Luther's daring, and "go to Worms, though there were as many devils as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses;" or, better still, we can say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." We know that God will not call us to confront an enemy that we cannot lay low, nor to bear a cross which we cannot carry, nor to endure a trial we cannot sustain, nor to do a work which we cannot perform. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Hence, in closing the psalm:

8. Faith soliloquizes. (Ver. 14.) It may be supposed to be addressed first to himself, and so, indirectly, to the people of God generally. The words, "He shall strengthen thine heart," are, rather, "Let thine heart be strong;" as if the psalmist would chide himself that he should ever have a moment's misgiving, when he has such a God in whom to trust, and such a stronghold in which to abide (Nahum 1:7). Be it ours to wait upon our God continually! This is the secret of a steady, upward, peaceful, and strong life. What may be before any of us, no human eye can discern, nor where our lot may be cast. But God is all-sufficient. Note:

1. How sinful and, foolish to incur the risks of life ourselves! To each and all of us God says, "Seek ye my face." Let our answer be, "Thy face, Lord, will we seek." And all that God has been to our fathers, he will be to us - our Light, our Salvation, our Helper, our Strength, our All!

2. None need quail before the risks of life, whatever they may be, who put their whole trust in God, and follow him everywhere! "Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?"

3. Never think to gain anything by paltering with duty. If a plain duty is before you, however difficult, go forward in the strength of the Lord, and fear nothing. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Wherefore we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear; what can man do unto me?" Only trust in the Lord, and do right, and one by one you will see your foes stumble and fall, and you will be left in possession of the field, more than conqueror, through him that loveth you."

"Stand but your ground, your ghostly foes will fly,
Hell trembles at a heaven-directed eye;
Choose rather to defend than to assail,
Self-confidence will in the conflict fail.

When you are challenged, you may dangers meet,
True courage is a fixed, not sudden heat;
Is always humble, lives in self-distrust,
And will itself into no danger thrust.

Devote yourself to God, and you will find
God fights the battles of a will resigned.
Love Jesus! love will no base fear endure;
Love Jesus! and of conquest rest secure."

(Bishop Ken.) = - c.

Gather not my soul with sinners.
It is taken for granted that at death souls are gathered together after their own sort, and that horror is felt at being gathered with sinners. In discoursing on this doctrine we shall note —


1. Here souls are mingled together. The result of this is that it keeps both parties uneasy; they are a mutual check one upon another, and providence varies in its dispensations accordingly.

2. In the other world there will be separation; and that —

3. The time for this is at death. But —

4. The saints have a horror of being gathered with sinners, and so, too, have the wicked. Balaam (Numbers 21:10).

II. WHO ARE SINNERS. All unjustified and unsanctified persons; such as they who neither know nor care about religion: the profane, the mere moralists (Matthew 5:20), and formalists (2 Timothy 3:5). For all these miss the mark men should aim at, and all are guilty of death before the Lord (1 Kings 1:21; Romans 3:19), and they can do nothing but sin (Psalm 14:3), since the principles that govern them are wrong (Titus 1:15).

III. THE MEANING OF THE SOUL BEING GATHERED WITH SINNERS IN THE OTHER WORLD. The soul is separated from the body at death and goes to its appointed place, which is separate from that of saints.

IV. THE CONCERN FELT IN REFERENCE TO THIS. It implies an earnest belief in the foregoing truths, and a dread of what they declare, together with an acknowledgment that God might justly condemn them; wherefore they betake themselves to His mercy (Job 9:15).


1. Because to be gathered with sinners is to be separated from God.

2. In a most doleful place (Isaiah 24:22).

3. With the most frightful society (Matthew 25:41).

4. Suffering the heaviest punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

5. To be left in their sin there; which will itself be their punishment. Their passions will rage, but they cannot be satisfied.

6. And this forever.


1. However favourable the condition of the sinner in this world, it is a miserable one after all.

2. That the great business of our life is to learn to die, and to prepare for the next world.

3. We are in great danger of perishing, and therefore should be all the more earnest.

4. Therefore let the careless, slothful, delaying, malignant sinners take heed. But —

5. Such as are showing this concern may be comforted, for they are in the way of duty, and are taking their work in time; it is the Spirit who works in them this concern, and they have to do with a good and gracious God (Ezekiel 23:11). Then —

6. Your concern is quite different from that of the ungodly, who also shrink from hell, as Balaam did. For your concern is, not to be separated from Christ, and not to be left in sin; and you are now forsaking sin with true purpose of heart. Wherefore —

7. Be thus concerned all of you, come to Christ, forsake all sin, unite with the godly, observe ordinances, avoid the way of sinners now. For how important this matter is; nothing is to be put before it, and now is the accepted and the only time, and the gathering in the other world will be eternal and unutterable. Wherefore, upon the whole, let me obtain of you —

(1)That you will take scale serious thoughts of the other world in both parts of it.

(2)That you will inquire what case you are in for it. And —

(3)That you will lay down measures timely, that year souls be not gathered with sinners there. May the Lord persuade and incline your hearts unto this course.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

We must all be gathered in due course. It may come tomorrow; it may be deferred another handful of years. Filled with a holy horror of the hell of sinners, let us make most sure our calling to the heaven of the blessed. Consider —

I. THE GATHERING. There have been many such — Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; Jericho and the Canaanites; the destruction of Jerusalem. But forgetting all these inferior gatherings, let us look on to the last great one, which is proceeding every day to its completion As the huntsman, when he goes forth to the battle, encompasses the beasts of the forest with an ever-narrowing ring of hunters, that he may exterminate them all in one great slaughter, so the God of Justice has made a ring in His providence about the sinful, sons of men. None can escape. I will not attempt, to describe, what our Saviour, veiled in words like these: "These shall go away into everlasting punishment."

II. THE PRAYER ITSELF. We are all agreed about it, every one of us. Sinners do not wish to be gathered with sinners. But the reasons of the one prayer are different in different persons. A selfish desire to escape misery is sufficient to account for it with sinful men. There is a class of sinners that some would like to be gathered with now. Can we say, when we look upon the bright side of the wicked, "Gather not," etc.? If we cannot we really cannot pray the prayer at all. But the Christian prays this prayer because, as far as his acquaintance with sinners goes, he does not even now wish for their company. We cannot be with them and feel ourselves perfectly at home. And even now, when God comes to punish a nation, the Christian has to suffer with the rest. He may well, from the little taste he has had of their company, pray, "Gather not," etc. I do not know any class of sinners whose company the Christian would desire. I should not like to live with the most precise of hypocrites, nor with the formalist; and as for the blasphemer, we would as soon be shut up in a tiger's den. And there are other reasons. When sinners are gathered at the last their characters will be the same. And think of the place, the pit of hell. Their occupations, cursing God; their sufferings, the pain of body and soul they know. And they are forever banished from God and Christ.

III. But there is in our text A FEAR, as if a whisper said, "Perhaps, after all, you may be gathered with the wicked." This fear may arise from remembrance of past sin. Before we were converted we lived as others. Present backwardness, unfruitfulness, and our conscious weakness, these all rouse this fear. Therefore note —

IV. THE ANSWER TO THIS PRAYER. Have you the two things that David had, the outward integrity and the inward trust? If so, then you cannot be gathered with sinners. For the rule is, like to like. And our comrades here are to be our companions hereafter. And we have been too dearly bought with Christ's blood, and are too much loved by God; and the new nature given you will not allow of it. Careless and thoughtless one, I entreat you to consider if it be not a dreadful thing to be a sinner.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Many disputes there are concerning the origin of human souls. The Bible assigns the first origination to God, and closely connects all with the first man. "All souls are Mine; as the soul of the master, so the soul of the servant." He is the great Lord of human souls.


1. By its intellectual capacities: thought, reason, memory, conscience, affection.

2. By its moral capacities. It is naturally endowed with an ability to know, serve, love, and enjoy God.

3. By its immortality. It perishes not with the body. "The spirit of man goeth upward," — to God.

4. By the efforts of fallen spirits to effect its destruction.

5. By the means which God has used for its salvation.


1. What is more reasonable than such an association of similar minds after their probation?

2. Its probability is to be inferred from the nature of God and the present state of trial.

3. Its certainty is proved by Divine testimony. "He will render to every man according to his works."


1. This is a matter of positive Divine assertion.

2. Realise the fact. An entire company of lost souls! — shut up with such forever. Think of a prison full of felons and blasphemers!

3. Consider the threatenings connected with the fact. The wrath of God. Sin will forever live in them and incur wrath. Spiritual death will triumph over their soul, and never cease.

IV. THE PRAYER OF THE TEXT. "Gather not my soul," etc.

1. How can this be answered, seeing we are sinners? The language of the prayer proceeds from a consciousness of deserving to be gathered with sinners.

2. Yet the prayer supposes the possibility of being heard and answered. The scheme of salvation shows how it can be.

3. The sincerity of the prayer will be proved by returning to God practically and in heart. If we would not be gathered with sinners at last we must break off from them now.


I. THE GOOD MAN IS CHIEFLY CONCERNED ABOUT HIS SOUL. Many anxious as to health, earthly comforts, security of goods, and so on. The care of the godly is his soul.

1. The soul is the man.

2. The salvation of the soul is necessary for the glory of God and the true ends of our being. The soul is ill desperate peril; and none but Christ can save.

II. THE GOOD MAN KNOWS THAT THE DESTINY OF THE SOUL IS SETTLED AT DEATH. Death comes to all. And "after death the judgment": inferred by reason, foreboded by conscience, revealed by Scripture.


(1)their character;

(2)their society;

(3)their doom.Do we shrink from the society of the false, the impure, the revengeful, the slaves of lust and selfishness, how much more should we recoil from eternal fellowship with these and such as these!

(W. Forsyth, M. A.)

As there is a gathering time for the fruits of the earth, so there is a gathering time for men. Death is the reaper. With his scythe he mows down the generations, and justice gathers whom he mows, — some to misery, some to bliss. Who would be gathered with the sinners in the great world of retribution?

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Even those of you who are not renewed by Christ despise vice when she walks abroad naked. I fear me ye cannot say as much when she puts on her silver slippers, and wraps about her shoulders her scarlet mantle. Sin in rags is not popular. Vice in sores and squalor tempts no one. In the grosser shapes, men hate the very fiend whom they love when it is refined and delicate in its form. I want to know whether you can say, "Gather not my soul with sinners" when you see the ungodly in their high days and holy days? Do you not envy the fraudulent merchant counting his gold, his purse heavy with his gains, while he himself by his craft is beyond all challenge by the law? Do you not envy the giddy revellers, spending the night in the merry dance, laughing, making merry with wine, and smiling with thoughts of lust? Yonder voluptuary, entering the abode where virtue never finds a place, and indulging in pleasures unworthy to be named in this hallowed house, does he never excite your envy? I ask you, when you see the pleasures, the bright side, the honours, the emoluments, the gains, the merriments of sin, do ye then say, "Gather not my soul with sinners"? There is a class of sinners that some would wish to be gathered with, those easy souls who go on so swimmingly. They never have any trouble; conscience never pricks them; business never goes wrong with them; they have no bands in their life, no bonds in their death; they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. They are like the green bay tree, which spreads on every side, until its boughs cover whole acres with their shade. These are the men who prosper in the world, they increase in riches. Can we say, when we look at these, when we gaze upon the bright side of the wicked, "Gather not my soul with sinners"? Remember, if we cannot do so without reservation we really cannot pray the prayer at all; we ought to alter it, and put it, "Gather not my soul with openly reprobate sinners"; and then, mark you, as there is only one place for all sorts of sinners, moral or immoral, apparently holy or profane, your prayer cannot be heard, for if you are gathered with sinners at all — with the best of sinners — you must be gathered with the worst of sinners too. I know, children of God, ye can offer the prayer as it stands, and say, "In all their glory and their pomp, in all their wealth, their peace, and their comfort, my soul abhors them, and I earnestly beseech thee, O Lord, by the blood of Jesus, 'Gather not my soul with sinners.'"

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

As for blasphemers, we could not endure them a moment. Would you not as soon be shut up in a tiger's den as with a cursing, swearing, thievish profligate? Who can endure the company of either a Voltaire or a Manning? Find out the miserly, the mean, the sneaking, the grasping — who likes to be with them? The angry, the petulant, who never try to check the unholy passion, one is always glad to be away from such folks; you are afraid lest you should be held responsible for their mad actions, and therefore, if you must be with them, you are always ill at ease. With no sort of sinners can the child of God be hail-fellow. Lambs and wolves, doves and hawks, devils and angels are not fit companions; and so through what little trial the righteous have had, they have learned that there is no sort of sinners that they would like to be shut up with forever.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In Jersey City, over from New York, there is one of the largest distributing centres of passenger traffic in the world. All the passengers for the various ramifying routes are gathered together in the waiting hall, with the doors closed. Suddenly these doors are flung open, and in a high, shrill key the railway attendant calls out the route of the train that is about to start, and goes over the names of the big towns on that route, in a tale long enough to make him need breath when he has finished it. "Philadelphia," etc., etc., and you see passengers start from their seats among the throng and hurry to the exit the railway man indicates. They are bound for Philadelphia, and the rest. The doors close, and the throng inside the hall settle down again." After some time the doors are flung open again, and the same sing-song of the route and the list of stops. Chicago and St. Louis," and you see another company of passengers make their way out to the waiting train. They are those going to Chicago and St. Louis. Again the doors close, and again they are flung to the wall, and this time the list of names the fellow calls out ends with "Montreal," and, when I heard that, I started up and made for the door; I was going to Montreal. In a few hours they that were one company inside the waiting hall of the station of Jersey City are separated by hundreds of miles, and never all to meet again. That is like this world. We are gathered together in one waiting hall in the station of time, and those sky doors have yet to be flung open, and the voice of God, the last trump, is to burst on every mortal ear, and companies and groups have to separate and gather according to their destination for eternity. Here passengers for heaven: there passengers for hell. You cannot tell in the waiting hall what passengers are bound the glad one way or what passengers are bound the sad other way. The outward appearance is all we can see. He that looketh upon and knoweth the heart is the Lord. Some presumptuous folk would try to erect a dividing barricade in the waiting hall, and divide it into two sections, whose partitions would be covered in regulation form with ecclesiastical jagged broken glass, mostly coloured, I know. But it will not do: it will not do. Leave the division to the Divider Himself. Judge not, but wait till the shout of the archangel of the coming King is heard through the suddenly flung open doors — in a moment, in that moment, in that twinkling of an eye, at that last trump. There are only two groups, and two departures, and two destinations from this waiting hall of time. How fitting the prayer, "Gather not my soul with sinners."

(John Robertson.)

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