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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
Title:Light Into the Darkness 3: The Divine Light
Text:Psalms 27 (View)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Psalm 36

Text: Psalm 27



  1. It is a Comforting Light

  2. It is a Beautiful Light

  3. It is a Welcoming Light


  1. Psalm 84: 1-3

  2. Psalm 36: 2, 3

  3. Psalm 27: 1, 2, 6

  4. Psalm 84: 5, 6

  5. Psalm 57: 1, 4, 5

  6. Hymn 39: 1-5


Words to Listen For: castle, ball, Lebanon, chains, ushered


Questions for Understanding:

  1. Why might it be difficult to sing or say someone else’s words?  What do we do then?

  2. What is (divine) light?

  3. Why does David ask for the one thing that he does?

  4. How is God beautiful?

  5. God will not forsake me because _______________

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved children of God,

How should we pray?  Prayer is, at once, the simplest and most difficult part of our Christian lives.

In prayer we talk to God - what could be simpler?  Just close your eyes, fold your hands, and talk.  Talk to the One who loves you more than you have ever been loved by anyone else.  Talk to the One who knows you more than anyone else ever could.  Talk to the One who uses His power for your good.  What could be simpler?

But at the same time, prayer can be so difficult.  We do not know what we should pray for.  We feel that we have to use all the right words because…well…He is GOD!  He the ruler of the Universe!  If we stumble over our words in front of our friends, it’s one thing.  But in front of the one who is PERFECT….the one who is perfectly wise…even at our best, we couldn’t possibly hope to measure up…so, we BETTER be at our best when we come to Him.

And there are some amazing books on prayer that we could read.  Some handy tips like the ACTS acronym - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

All of these are wonderful.  But if we want to dig down to the VERY BASICS, simplify it so that a child can understand it…here are the two things about prayer that we should all know.

First of all…the best book on prayer is the Bible.  All throughout, we read amazing prayers of the church throughout history.  If we want to narrow it down even more…the best book in the Bible on prayer is the book of Psalms.  150 prayers that we can and should take on our lips to talk to God.

Secondly, as valuable as the ACTS acronym is, we can simplify prayer even further.  We can simplify it into two categories: PRAISE and PETITION.

In prayers of PRAISE you adore God for who He is, or you thank God for what He has done.

In prayers of PETITION, you confess before God your spiritual need - FORGIVENESS, or you ask Him for your physical needs - food, deliverance from enemies, etc.

And most prayers should include BOTH.  And our psalms, our prayers that we are examining today, Psalm 36 as our reading and Psalm 27 as our text…both of these psalms have both aspects in them.  Did you notice that?

Psalm 36 begins with a description of the wicked as a kind of contrast to the description of God.  Unlike the wicked, God is a God whose steadfast love extends to the heavens, His righteousness is like the mountains, His judgements are like the sea.  His salvation offers refuge to the children of mankind. 

And so too with Psalm 27 - The Lord is my light, the Lord is my salvation, the Lord is my stronghold, the Lord will hide me in His shelter, the Lord will take me in.

But, as you can see, if you are looking at the text of the Psalm, that PRAISE and PETITION in Psalm 27 are entwined, closely together, back and forth, one after the other.

The LORD is my light and my salvation - PRAISE

    Whom shall I fear - PETITION

We see that David is going through difficulty, fear is on his mind.  Verse 2 - when evildoers assault me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is THEY who stumble and fall.

Back and forth - here is my trouble, here is my God!  Here is my trouble, here is my God!

And it is valuable for us to see this, and to turn our praises into petitions and our petitions into praises. To meet one with the other.

St. Bernard - the man, not the dog - once wrote this in relation to Psalm 27:

The LORD is my light and my salvation

Sun of Adoration, I cannot walk without thee; enlighten my steps, and furnish this barren and ignorant mind with thoughts worthy of thee.  Fullness of light and heat, be thou the true noonday of my soul; exterminate its darkness, disperse its clouds; burn, dry up, and consume all its filth and impurities.  Divine Sun, rise upon my mind and never set.

Is that what our prayer life looks like?  To take the divinely inspired words of our God, not only taking them on our lips word-for-word, but mining them for all that they are worth?

Do I recognize my need and His provision?

My darkness and His light?

As we continue with our Advent series, 

LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS, I invite you to encounter with me: THE DIVINE LIGHT

  1. It is a Comforting Light

  2. It is a Beautiful Light

  3. It is a Welcoming Light



The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

As comforting as these words might be, do these words feel STRANGE for us to take on our lips?  To pray them, or to sing them - corporate prayer set to music?

Sometimes it feels strange to take someone else’s words on our lips because we don’t understand the meaning.

For instance, in Psalm 48 which we sang not too many weeks ago, we come across the line: Walk ‘round Zion’s citadels, count her towers and crenelles.

Children, do you know what a crenelle is?  Adults, how many of you know the definition of a crenelle?  I’m thinking not too many of us.

Or, what about Hymn 53 - Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.

Lord Sabaoth - that’s a title for our God…but not a title in the English!  You won’t find this in any modern English translation.

Now, this is a challenge that is easily solved.  Some of you are probably making notes to google these words after church.  But I can tell you now so that you’re not distracted by possible definitions all sermon.


A crenelle is the indentation at the top of a castle wall.  That strange square-gap-square-gap pattern.

As for Lord Sabaoth - this means Lord of Hosts.  It makes perfect sense that the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of angel armies would then “win the battle.”


This is a challenge that is easily solved.


But what if the words of the psalm or the hymn feel FALSE to us?  Not just confusing, but false?

God is my light, my refuge, my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?  The LORD comes to my aid.

Are these words true for us?  Or do we struggle with them?

It’s been said that the most dishonest time in a worship service is during the singing.  We feel that we are REQUIRED to sing and confess things that…just aren’t true for us.

God is my light my refuge my salvation, whom shall I fear?

But that’s not the cry of my heart - I DO FEAR!  God is light and salvation…fine…but not for ME!  I’m not feeling it.

As Christians we are told not to lie, but, it seems that we are not only allowed to, but ENCOURAGED to lie, as long as we do it to a Genevan tune.

But I would like to challenge this.

As believers we are NOT to lie, whether speaking or singing, or praying.  But the solution is not to skip out lines or even whole stanzas of songs.

Because the question here is TRUTH.  WHAT IS TRUTH?  Is truth merely what we FEEL to be true?

Think of the woman struggling with anorexia - though she is skin and bones, she FEELS as though she is overweight.

Think of the man struggling with depression - though he is surrounded by those who love him and support him, he FEELS as though he is alone and abandoned.

Looking to our HEART as the source of truth is a very dangerous way to live our lives.  We have to look a little further out for what is TRUE.  What is ULTIMATELY TRUE.

And what is true, what is REALLY TRUE…is the Word of God.  The Word of Truth.

And so, when we come across prayers like Psalm 27 that speak so confidently about who God is and what He has done for us…we must focus on the OBJECTIVE TRUTH of the psalm, rather than the SUBJECTIVE TRUTH of our hearts.

We have to allow ourselves and our preconceptions to be challenged by HIS TRUTH.


The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

And, just in case we think “well, the psalmist has NO IDEA what it’s like for me…” just keep on reading.


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.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.


The psalmist David, as he is praying, he is preaching to his own soul - I will not be afraid, I will not fear, instead I will be confident in the LORD, in Yahweh, my covenant God, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE GOOD REASON TO FEAR.

You think you have a good reason to fear?  Well, the psalmist has more.

We don’t know in what situation David writes this psalm, and that is telling.  There are SO MANY difficult situations David lived through that would perfectly fit with this psalm.

Was this early in his life, when David the shepherd boy was about to face the giant Goliath?  The Philistine army was encamped against him, his family was angry with him, rebuking and slandering him, but he trusted in the LORD.

You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hand.

Or maybe when David was threatened by King Saul, receiving insults and threats and even spears thrown at him?

Or when he was pursued by Saul all throughout the wilderness?

Maybe when he was the in the land of the Philistines

Or when David’s son Absalom conspired against him and appointed himself as king, and David had to flee Jerusalem.

There are so many options here for David’s struggle, and, in a way, that makes these words even more powerful.  In all these struggles, what David does, is he brings them all before God.  He bends the knee in prayer before the One who can and will take care of him.

He says: Even though I have reason to fear - more reason than many of you - I will not, BECAUSE I KNOW WHO GOD IS!

God is my light.  He is my salvation.  He is the stronghold of my life!  Comparatively, my enemies, my fears, ARE AS NOTHING!

And this is not a one time thing.  Look at Psalm 36, another prayer of David.

David knows the wicked very well.  Intimately even.

And so he describes them

  • No fear of God

  • Thinks his sins will not be found out

  • Creates trouble and deceit with his speech

  • Plots trouble

  • Embraces and does not reject evil

BUT GOD is not like this.  And GOD is the one on my side.


And just who is this God?


  • He is the one whose steadfast love extends to the heavens.  His faithfulness to the clouds.

  • He is the one whose righteousness is like the mountains, whose judgements are like the deeps of the ocean.

  • His steadfast love is precious

  • His children take refuge in the shadow of His wings

  • He is the fountain of life

  • And in His light do we see light

Can anything be more comforting?  Can anything be more beautiful?  This is how we must pray.  This is what I see around me, but this is who you are O God.  You are light…and in your light I too see light, even when it seems that all is darkness.  How comforting and beautiful is God’s light, if we only have eyes to see it.  Our second point.

In your light do we see light

Do we understand this?

It is so beautiful, so profound, so poetic, so simple…we had the opportunity to sing it together earlier in the service…but do we understand this?  Or is this another “crenelle” or “sabaoth” situation?


In your light do we see light.

It seems clear…until we are forced to define it.  Just like created light in this world.

Oh I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS, I just can’t describe it.

Then…you don’t fully know what it means, do you?


So what does this mean?  What does it mean that God is our light in Psalm 27, what does it mean that God IS light in 1 John 1?

Just as when it comes to physical, natural light, we could say: “Light is the electromagnetic radiance of the sun.”  And the same can be applied to divine light.

Natural light is the electromagnetic radiance of the sun

Divine light is the glorious radiance of God’s glory

GOD IS LIGHT.  These three words should impact us deeply and profoundly.  They should bring to mind, not only what we heard from St. Bernard in the introduction - that God is the one who enlightens our steps, who enlightens our minds and purifies our souls…a wonderful and personal application of GOD AS LIGHT…but in fact, we should have a more cosmic picture.

When we pray, we must step outside of ourselves, of our lives, and see the bigger picture.  What is happening, not just in my life, my city, my country, but what is God doing with His people all throughout the world?

What is our cosmic picture of God?

Well, just as the sun is this unapproachable ball of shining light, with rays that travel far and wide across the solar system, so too our God.  His glory emanates from Him like rays of light.  The beauty, the power, the greatness, the GLORY of God spreads out from Him in rippling waves.

Light shining in and through the darkness, coming near to us.  Wrapping us in the light and the heat, dispelling the darkness, giving us peace.  This is what happens in prayer - even when we do not feel it, this is what is happening.  Light is encircling us.

And for good reason - evil cannot live in the light.  Sin will die when it is exposed to the light.  Our enemy loves to work in the cover of darkness.  The darkness covers the shame, and softens the sharp edges.  Darkness seeks to confuse us, it seeks to convince us that no-one can see, that there will be no consequences to our actions, that what we are doing isn’t really that bad.

But it is the light that reveals our sins for the foolish, empty, and ugly things that they really are.

Light is difficult. In some ways, darkness is easier.  But darkness is not forever.  Darkness will not win the day, and one day, each and every thing will come into the light.  You do not have the power to get away with ANYTHING.  EVER.  Darkness seeks to twist the fabric of reality, but it will snap back on you.

And so, while you have the chance, while you have the choice…before you are dragged, kicking and screaming into the light against your will…live in the light RIGHT NOW.  Live in the light.  Bask in the light.  See it for the beautiful thing that it is.

The best way to combat our sin is on our knees.  Praying for God’s presence, praying for His light, that we may always dwell in it.

And this is what David longs for in our psalm.

Returning there, Psalm 27, verse 4

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the  LORD and to inquire in His temple.

Remember the context here, beloved?

David was in trouble.  He would have been in distress, if not for His rock-solid confidence in the LORD.

My light

My salvation

The stronghold of my life

But what does he ask for?  What is the one cry of his heart?  If He could only have one petition in his prayer, what would it be

Note that it is not what we would think.  It’s not what we would ask for when we pray.

David does not ask here for deliverance from his enemies.

Now, it isn’t bad, it isn’t sinful to ask for this…

David does get around to asking God for this in this very same psalm - verse 12 - Give me not up to the will of my adversaries.  Praying for deliverance from evil men is a good prayer.  It is something that we can and we should pray.

But it cannot be our primary objective.

You see, if our prayers are exclusively that of PETITIONS and we forget the PRAISE…then what we have done is we have fundamentally misunderstood Christianity.  We have fundamentally misunderstood God.

If our prayers are a laundry list of what we want God to do for us…then we have the wrong priorities.  If we only worship God because of WHAT HE CAN DO FOR US instead of WHO HE IS TO US…then this is not worship.  This is manipulation.

I will love you if that means you spend time with me.

I will love you if that means that you will blindly support anything that I do.

And the list goes on.

But THAT’S NOT LOVE!  True love is unconditional.  I will love you, even if you don’t give me exactly what I want.

True love is unconditional, and true love, and by extension, true worship, is not something to be used to get something else.

Love and worship are not currency, used to get what we really want.  No.  Love and worship are not a means to an end, but they are an end in and of themselves.

Let me say that again.  Love and worship are not a means to an end, but they are an end in and of themselves.

This was what Job knew, and prayed, even in his trials and tribulations - though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.

This the prayer with which Habakkuk concludes his book - the mighty struggle of God’s prophet - Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation

This is the bold response of the 3 young men, standing 5 feet away from a fiery furnace of death - O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.

All these men had their priorities right.  I will not serve God to get something from Him.  I will serve Him because of WHO HE IS.

  • Even if He slays me - Job

  • Even if there are no blessings - Habakkuk

  • Even if He doesn’t save us from death - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

This is how the mighty men of old prayed.

ONE THING I ASK.  If you had only one wish, only one opportunity to present your request to God, what would you say?

One thing have I asked of the LORD,

That will I seek after:

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD

All the days of my life,

To gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

And to inquire in His temple

It is the beauty of the LORD, not the beauty of the temple - for, remember, that Solomon’s glorious temple was still decades away from being built.  David’s desire had nothing to do with the great and costly stones, or the cedar of Lebanon, or the gold or silver.

David’s desire was solely fixed on the LORD HIMSELF.  The beauty of YAHWEH.

Now what exactly does this mean?  What is the beauty of Yahweh?

We heard in our call to worship that our God dwells in unapproachable light.  That no one has seen Him or can see Him.

When Moses asked to see God, He was given a DECLARATION rather than a vision - The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.

So our God is beautiful in a different way than a sunset is beautiful, right?  He isn’t beautiful in the same way, right?

Well, not exactly.

In some ways these two beauties are exactly the same.  We can say that a sunset is beautiful BECAUSE God is beautiful.  His creation, especially the sky, proclaim His glory.  They are reflections of Him.  And so the beauty of a sunset is the beauty of God - we just take it in in a different way.

So what exactly does it mean that God is beautiful?

Well, without getting too deep into the philosophy of it all, objective beauty has to do with the fittingness of a particular thing.  Whether it is delicate or bold, strong or fragile, there can be beauty in all these things, but in the RIGHT CONTEXT.  The fittingness of something has a direct impact on its beauty.

Beauty is something that pleases the mind by its fittingness.

Beauty is something that is fitting.  It is satisfying.  It is delightful.

And what better description of God can there be?

How many times have we seen that God is exactly what His people need?

The people crying out for deliverance in Egypt, what did they need?  They needed salvation.  But not just breaking the chains and sneaking off in the middle of the night, they needed salvation and to be introduced to their God - it had been 20 generations!  Introduced to a God who was more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians.  A God who loved His people enough to use that power for their freedom.  They needed to know which way to go, and so He led them.  They needed to know that He would not abandon them, and so He showed up, every day in a pillar of cloud, every night in a pillar of fire.  For 14 600 days.

And then what about our ultimate salvation?  We have seen as we go through the catechism together, the EXACT SAVIOUR WE NEEDED, and that He was the EXACT SAVIOUR WE RECEIVED.

  • True man

  • Righteous man

  • True God

  • Born perfectly

  • Lived perfectly

  • Died perfectly

  • Raised to life, defeating death

  • Rose to heaven where He sits, interceding for us

  • Sent His Spirit to dwell in our hearts sanctifying and comforting us.

Each and every one of our needs…PERFECTLY MET.  When we petition our God, He responds, not always in the way that we WANT, but always in the way that we need.  This demonstrates His beauty to us.

True divine beauty has to do with fittingness.  It has to do with satisfaction and delight.

And this is what David longed for in the house of the LORD.  He wanted to DWELL THERE with God.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

And to inquire in His temple.

We see that, after saying that he wants ONE THING, what David actually requests is THREE THINGS

  • To dwell

  • To gaze upon

  • To inquire

But, you see, for David, these things were all one and the same.

To dwell in the house of the LORD forever was for the purpose of gazing upon His beauty, and was for the purpose of inquiring in His temple.  For David, dwelling and worship were one and the same.  To be with God forever.

And why THE TEMPLE - which, as we heard before was the Tabernacle at this time - why the TEMPLE?  Surely David knew that God was everywhere!

And yes, of course, Psalm 139, also written by David, confesses that God is everywhere - where can I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

So why this specific location?

It was because there was an altar in the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle was the place where sacrifices were made.  The Tabernacle was the place where PEACE WAS ACCOMPLISHED.

For David knew that, in and of himself, he did not DESERVE to dwell with God.  He didn’t even deserve a visit or a sojourn.  All that David deserved, just like all of us…if we’re going to talk about what we DESERVE…is condemnation.  We DESERVE an eternity away from God.

Because we are not light as He is light.

We are not holy as He is holy

We are not beautiful as He is beautiful

And this is exactly why the Tabernacle, the Temple, was needed.  For the sacrifice to be made, for peace to be restored.  So that sin was paid for and covered over.  So that David could, without fear of unworthiness, enter in before God.  Because of that altar, David could be welcomed in, and proclaim - My father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.  The LORD will take me in.  Of all these promises, of all these beauties and perfections, light, life, salvation…this is perhaps the best.  Our final point.

My father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

What does this mean?

It means, quite simply, that our eternal salvation is secure.

It was secure for David…He knew that his salvation depended, not on his own strength, his own holiness, his own character, but rather on the character of God.  And who is this God?  He is BEAUTIFUL.  He is LIGHT.  He is LIFE.  He is SALVATION.  He is Yahweh - the great I AM.

And Yahweh saw David when he was just a little shepherd boy, despised by his older brothers, forgotten by his father.

Yahweh gave David strength to defeat Goliath, not by sword or spear, but in the name of the Lord of hosts - Yahweh Sabaoth.

Yahweh protected and preserved, guided and guarded this boy until he grew up to be a man after God’s own heart.  The king who ushered in the golden age of Israel.

Even when David foolishly and pridefully took a census of all the fighting men…Yahweh was still there. He was there to discipline and correct, but He was there.

Even when David arrogantly, cruelly, and lustfully, took another man’s wife…Yahweh was still there.  He came with harsh discipline, but He did not leave David.

And so David - whenever he prayed these words…maybe at the beginning of his life looking forwards, or the end of his life looking backwards…David knew that Yahweh would take him in.

He knew what was waiting for him after his life on this earth was over.  David knew because he had seen God’s salvation in his life.  He knew because he could depend on the sacrificial system to take away his sins.

And how much more for us, beloved?

When we encounter all the difficulties of this life, when we find it hard to pray like this, struggling with the truth that Yahweh is my light and my salvation…struggling with the fearlessness that we should have as His people…what do WE depend on?

Where should WE long to dwell?

We should also long to dwell with God - to gaze upon His beauty all the days of our lives.

But for us, the altar has been fulfilled by the cross.

The sacrifices of bulls and goats which could only COVER sin but not take it away, have been fulfilled by the one sacrifice of the cross.  Where the light of the world was seemingly extinguished by the darkness, only to, on the third day, burst forth victorious.

What we should long for is to dwell at the foot of the cross.  To gaze up at our God, to gaze up at our Saviour, to cling to His cross with all our might and to marvel at His beauty.

To look up at His wounds, wounds inflicted because of your sin and my sin, to see His blood drip, hear His groans uttered, and know that BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS the LORD will take us in.

The LORD will take me in - He will not forsake me.

  • He will not forsake me because of my sin - for He has borne that sin in His body.

  • He will not forsake me because of my weakness - for when I am weak, He is shown to be strong

  • He will not forsake me because I am wounded - for He is the great Healer

  • He will not forsake me because He has already forsaken Christ on my behalf.  On the cross, He was forsaken so that we might be welcomed in forever.

We must spend our lives clinging to the cross of Christ - depending on Him and Him alone for our salvation.  We must bask in His presence, speaking to Him and singing to Him - pouring out our heart & pouring out God's truth, even when we don't feel it to be true.

Coming to Him in prayer with every single one of our PETITIONS.... but not just with our petitions, also with our boundless thankfulness and PRAISE.  Speaking to Him, often and passionately about our weaknesses and His strengths.  About our needs and His provision.  About our darkness and His light.

We must live in the light - already now.  We must live in the light as He is in the light.  As He IS the light.

We must cling to the cross until that final day comes when, washed pure by His blood, sanctified by His Spirit, we will be raised up, and dwell forever with Him, in a world where there is no more night, but all is His glorious light.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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