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. Psalms 27:1
Developing an argument and supporting it with evidence is a writing standard required for all high school students. My sophomore AP world history students struggle with developing this skill. We spend much of our year breaking down writing prompts to determine what is being asked and then developing a claim, or historical argument, to address the prompt. Students not only have to state a claim, they have to give reasons why they are making that claim. Then for each reason for their claim needs to be supported with evidence. On top of all that, their argument needs to be securely wrapped in the proper context of time and space like a Christmas present in shiny red and green paper under the tree.
Psalms 27: 1-6 is a proclamation of why I should not be afraid. In today’s vernacular, it is an argumentative essay for not fearing anyone or anything. The writer states his claim, gives his reasons and then supports them with evidence.
In verse one, the Psalmist states his claim. In other words, he makes his argument. He writes his thesis addressing the question of why should I not be afraid? His answer, “The Lord is my Light and Salvation…The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” The Psalmist is arguing that he doesn’t have to fear because God is his light, salvation and stronghold. He doesn't fear because of God.
Following the formula for all good argumentative essays, the writer then provides reasons why his claim is true. He states he is not afraid because with God he is protected, concealed, and lifted up.
Next, he supports these reasons with evidence. His enemies stumble. He has confidence even when he is surrounded by enemies. He is hidden from those who wish him harm. He has the best defensive position of the high ground in battle. He has protective shelter.
All teachers know that in order to score well the last piece all essays need is a conclusion. To end well, an argument needs to provide the reader with a reason why it is important. The argument needs to be tied together at the end. I continually ask my students, “So, what?” “Why is it important?” “What is the result?” An essay is not complete without an ending, just like a present is incomplete without a bow or a court case without concluding arguments.
The bow at the end of Psalms 27:6 is the effect of living without fear: praise. The writer says I am not afraid because God is my light, salvation and stronghold. Because I am concealed, protected and lifted up, I will praise Him. I am not afraid because of God and because of this I will praise Him.
Let's think about us.
What or whom are you afraid of today? What fear has frozen you?
Speak the argument made in Psalms 27:1-6 over your heart today. Substitute the words “evildoers”, “adversaries”, “foes” and “enemies” for the specific names of the people, worries, fears or circumstances that are encircling you.
Then, praise God for the protection and victory He will provide.
It’s all in the Grip
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28 (ESV)
As the stream of people pressed around us, nudging us one way and then the next, I grasped the tiny hands tighter in mine. Not wanting their sweaty little hands to slip out of mine, my grip lengthened and tightened encasing their entire lower extremities in my hand locking them to me. The last thing I wanted was to lose one of them downstream in the flowing crowd around us.
I don’t know about you but when my boys were little and we were in a crowded place, I didn’t just hold their hands, I held their wrists as well. My momma hands were like vice grips clasping around the one thing I could completely wrap myself around and hold on to as we moved through vast spaces filled with vast numbers of people.
The grasp I had on my boys was for their protection, provision and peace.
I held tightly to protect them. My grip was protecting them from getting lost. If I let go, it would have been easy for one of them to get swept away in the crowd and disappear out of my sight. Alone and apart from me, they would be vulnerable to all kinds of dangers. By holding tight, I protected them from the world they weren’t ready to navigate on their own yet.
Next, by holding on to them I provided a way for them to navigate strategically in a world larger than themselves without having to worry about where they were going or how they were going to get there. The only thing they had to do was to hold on to my hand and I would see us safely to our destination.
Lastly, being held tightly by my hand, my boys didn’t have to worry about the situations or people around them. They didn’t have to stress over the throngs of people pressing in around them nudging them in different directions. They didn’t have to think about the dangers of or have to figure out how to cross the street. They didn’t have to worry about what they were going to eat or how they were going to pay for it. They could be at peace because I was there with them.
John 10: 25-30 paints a similar picture of Jesus holding us tightly in his hand. His hand encloses around us shielding us, protecting us, providing for us. His grip is firm and sure. It is tight and steady. It is not the loose hold of fingertips, but the vice grip of a momma’s hand clasped around the wrist of her child in a crowd. Jesus’ grip keeps us protected from the things that would pull us away from His presence making us vulnerable to the evils of this world. His hand holds us safe.
His powerful, protective grip allows us to be at peace; no matter how large, crowded and unknown the world is around us. We don’t have to worry about the current of circumstances which flows around us. He can see above the fluxes and navigates us safely through the river’s rapids to the calm water of the bay.
Peace and security come when we place our hand in His, trusting Him to not let go, knowing that nothing can get to us that doesn’t pass through His hand first.
Thunder and Lightning
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” Revelation 19:6 (ESV)
The sky grew dark. The air thickened with heat and humidity. The dark clouds blinked as if flashbulbs were snapping a thousand pictures inside. Pellets of rain began to tap at the windows. Before long the afternoon summer shower intensified. Lightning cracked in the dark sky outside followed a few seconds later by the low rumble of thunder. Crack. Rumble. Crack Rumble. As the storm moved closer the wait time between thunder and lightning diminished. Like labor pains getting closer together as birth approached, thunder and lightning rolled into one loud crack-boom without a breath between them. Windows shook. Lights flickered. The sky lit up and then exploded with a cacophony of thunderous sound.
Living in Florida brings a multitude of thunderstorms throughout the summer. You see, Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. It has the most electric weather in the nation. Ten of the top fifteen cities for lightning strikes are located in Florida-all of which are within a 60 mile radius of my house. Intense summer thunderstorms are a regular part of life down here.
John in the book of Revelation compares the sound of praise in heaven to the mighty peals of thunder, and thunder has a mighty peal! Thunder is loud. Thunder shakes buildings. Thunder rattles windows. Thunder vibrates the ground. Thunder is not silent.
Thunder is caused by lightning.
It is the intense heat from lightning that causes thunder. Lightning averages 36000 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat causes air to rapidly expand which in turn creates a sonic wave –heard as thunder. Because light travels faster than sound, we see lightning before we hear thunder. The closer you are to the lightning the shorter the gap between sight and sound. So, when I was simultaneously seeing the bolts of lightning and hearing the boom of thunder-the strikes were very close to home.
Thunder is a bi-product of lightning. No lightning. No thunder.
When John describes the praise of heaven as being like thunder, it is because the praise of heaven is a direct result of being in the presence of God. Thunder is loudest when it is closest to the lightning strike. Thunder can’t be heard if the lightning is more than 12 miles away.
Our praise to God is loudest when we are closest to Him. When we are in His presence, our praise is automatic. Our praise is audible. Our praise moves us. Our praise shakes us. Our praise vibrates around us. God is the lightning. We are the thunder. He flashes. We praise. Lightning. Thunder.
As we move away from God’s presence our praise diminishes. It is reduced to a low rumble or a faint whisper. The less we experience His power in our life the more difficult it is to hear our praise.
So, let’s stay close to Him. Let’s look for His presence around us. When we see a flash of it, let’s whisper or thunder a praise automatically (context is important-you don’t want to shout inappropriately in the jury box).
Lightning and thunder they go together. You can't have one without the other.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.