What does 'the Lord is my light and my salvation' (Psalm 27:1) mean?
Psalm 27:1 starts by saying, "the LORD is my light and my salvation." The Lord is, quite literally, our salvation. As we continue to read the Psalm, we see that David, the psalmist in this instance, addresses God's protection over his physical enemies. Of course, we know that we are only saved in an eternal sense by God's grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:1–10). But beyond this direct meaning, the phrase contains metaphorical meanings that reveal God and His ways to us.
"The Lord is my light"—Light represents all that is good and is also a source of guidance. The Lord is the source of all goodness and light in our lives. He has given us His Word as a guide: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). When we put our faith in Jesus, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us (1 Corinthians 10:10–16; Ephesians 1:12–14). When we worry that we will be engulfed by darkness, even the darkness within our own hearts, God's presence and light is not overcome (Psalm 139:7–12). The Lord is the light that shines into the darkness and shows us the path of life.
Christ's life was the light that overcame darkness to be our salvation: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:4–5; see also John 8:12).
"The Lord is my salvation"—Salvation means "preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss." In this verse, salvation means that the Lord is our source of hope, security, and protection. He preserves us and delivers us. All hope is found in the Lord. Through Him, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we can have eternal salvation (John 3:16–18).
With the Lord as our light and salvation, it's no wonder that the next part of the verse says, "whom shall I fear?" Romans 8 expresses a similar sentiment: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31–34, 38–39).
The second half of Psalm 27:1 says, "The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" A stronghold is a fortress in times of war; it is a safe place. The Lord is our secure and safe place. There is no need for us to fear. Philippians 4:5–7 counsels, "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
This sort of metaphorical language about God that reveals His character to us is found throughout the Bible, frequently in the book of Psalms. Another similar verse in Psalms reads: "The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble" (Psalm 37:39). We learn through the Bible time and time again that God is our source of all that is good. He is our light, safe place, and salvation. If we are His child through faith in Jesus Christ, we can rest securely in Him (John 1:12; 16:33; Luke 12:22–34).
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