Psalm 27: Itinerary Flexible, Destination Clear

Compass and roadmap | Photo by Cherise Evertz on Unsplash

“One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.”
(Psalm 27:4)

I start off for work the route I always take and suddenly remember that I’m not going to work, I have a dentist appointment. I’m going south when I need to go west. I knew, but I was not mindful of where I was going. I forgot my destination. 

That’s a parable of life. Like Martha in the Gospel, I get busy about so many things that I neglect really important relationships with God, family and friends. 

It is easy to be sidetracked by the cares and worries of life. When we lose a job, a friend, our health, a marriage, we may also lose our way. Worries may preoccupy us so we are distracted, thrown off track, diverted from our real destination. But in my deepest, wisest self, my destination is clear. Psalm 27 expresses it well. 

First the Sorrow 

The psalmist was sidetracked and discouraged by “enemies on every side” (verse 6). “False witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence” (verse 12). But he believed that “I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living” (verse 13). 

The psalmist’s heart turned to the Temple where he had experienced God. Our hearts turn to God who makes the whole world his temple: “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). In the heavenly temple we will see God face-to-face. 

My deepest longing is to be with God. “Never let me be separated from you,” the priest prays privately before Communion. “Hide not your face from me. Forsake me not, O God my savior,” David pleads in verse 9. Hell is being separated from God. 

Then the Joy

We long “to dwell in the house of the Lord.” This isn’t selfishly limiting our vision to just God and me. When I am with God, I am with all my sisters and brothers. We are at the great banquet table together. 

Don’t we long to be with those we love and who love us, with our family or close friends? Among my life’s greatest joys are to be with my Franciscan brothers and to be with fellow believers at the Eucharist. We all dread being separated from those we love. Our hearts go out to families when a parent or spouse is serving in Iraq. We shudder when we remember horror stories of parents and children being separated in the Holocaust or hear the experience of today’s refugees in Darfur. 

Jesus is with us now and assures us he will not leave us orphans. “I go and prepare a place for you…that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3). Our human gatherings can be marred by misunderstandings or hurts. But in heaven we will have been purified of anger, envy, selfishness—all that keeps us from loving and being loved. 

St. Bonaventure urges us to desire heaven, to long to be with God because that opens our hearts wider and helps us keep our final destination in focus. As the psalmist begins, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom should I fear?” 

Understanding Psalm 27

Psalm 27 combines lament and trust. The psalmist laments before slander (“devour my flesh” in verse 2) and lying witnesses (verse 12). Falsehood is not an acceptable form of speech.

Trust is expressed in various ways: to dwell in the house, the temple, the tent of the Lord, to see God’s beauty (verses 4-5); to enjoy the Lord in the “land of the living” (verse 13). These all refer to the Jerusalem temple where God’s life-giving presence was most fully experienced. Happiness is not freedom from trouble but being solidly grounded in faith; the opposite of faith is not doubt, but fear.

Next Month: Psalm 104

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7 thoughts on “Psalm 27: Itinerary Flexible, Destination Clear”

  1. “Our human gatherings can be marred by misunderstandings or hurts. But in heaven we will have been purified of anger, envy, selfishness—all that keeps us from loving and being loved. ”

    I feel the above in life grieving my way out of loss and troubling memories but worse than feeling that burden is to feel manipulated, Accused and too disheartened working at relationships that are exhausting ..
    My habit of distancing to live simply and not feel resentments that may need to be prayed about in isolation not shamed by others who have not walked in my shoes. More comfort in the suffering not trusting fun.
    I love at a distance and that is met with accusations of estrangement. Pride sets in and inner turmoil shifts from knowing God’s Peace to Humiliation and even distrust As I am not striving for wealth, power, honor as I have witnessed the suffering and death of my parents my whole life is wrought with poor charity. I do not want to work at it alone or with anyone anymore. I am not idle just bitterness can not set in as I am just not feeling the love and forgiveness, confidence is a slippery slope based on circumstances pulling on my surviving each day. My guard is up too much out of ammunition and other arrows aimed at my soul .
    I do not like the pressure of working at relationships with others.
    I am praying for purpose and wellbeing in just existing and hoping to find peace in me. I missed my mark as a believer to fit into lifestyles of those I loved and lost and start over each day wanting to find a way to care without denying my awareness of my boundries. I feel pressured to fit into a world I do not trust I can survive in my fragile spirit. Feel safe in a cloister of my own making. Looking for a charism that can envelpoe me with a purpose to find an escape that I can serve and keep balance and find courage to be alone with decernment that being still is not letting the life I am living be in vain.

    1. Grace, I pray that you find a spiritual director. Pray that the Holy Spirit lead you to a charism. A calling. Have faith and Trust in Jesus. The Divine Chaplet resounds in trust and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wish you peace.

    2. Grace, what a beautiful name you have. I am reminded once again that God’s grace is sufficient. Grace, you are loved. My prayers are with you.

    3. Grace, it sounds like you have some type of dysfunctional family situation. To that I say, “Welcome to the club.” Many families today are not healthy for whatever reason. That is the time period we are living in, I guess. It’s fairly common nowadays. So, in that respect, don’t think you’re all that unusual. It sounds like you still have your faith and that’s the important thing. Just keep praying and I think you’ll be alright. At least you have a relationship with the Lord/Jesus. Some people don’t think they even have that, they are so forlorn and despairing. Whether it’s their own fault or not, I can’t say.

    4. Dear One, may the Lord hold you closer each & everyday. May I suggest you read the lives of some saints (Diary of Sr. M. Faustina Kowalska is very inspiring), there are hundreds, just google Catholic saints and the cause you need help with. I know books can be expensive, yet there are two ‘used’ book stores online (Abe Books & Thriftbooks). There is nothing like sitting alone and reading about their lives, seeing how loving God is & can make our lives seem more meaningful. I will remember you in my evening prayers. God loves you – don’t forget that ever. Linda

  2. May the good Lord Jesus smile upon you with His everloving Presence and help you realize we are all loved no matter what our circumstances ❤️
    Just keep faithful and live life because each day is a present ???? just have to remember if we don’t realize we’re walking with God it’s probably because He’s carrying us out of love ❤️ ????
    Don’t ever give up because He never gives up on us!!!

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