In the Land of the Living

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about Psalm 27, in particular the last two verses:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! –Psalm 27:13-14

Taken out of context, this statement seems almost cliché, like David is telling us that everything’s going to be okay. Just believe, and God will take care of it all. We’ve probably all heard something like this before—heard it so many times, in fact, that we probably don’t believe it anymore. Sure, we may agree in passing that God will provide good things, but it isn’t a statement that drives the way we live; it’s a statement that, frankly, no longer impacts us.

I think this is a problem more with us than with the soundness of what David says. That God provides good things is just as true now as it was when David wrote his psalm. The difference, I think, is that we either fail to see it or we’re looking for the wrong thing. I think David can help us with this.

What David is saying is actually pretty radical. He says that he believes he will see God’s goodness in the land of the living—in this life, here, now. How can David be justified in saying this? Isn’t he the one who was hunted by Saul, who committed adultery, who basically saw the ruin of his family? David certainly had his share of blessings, but in light of all the sin and suffering he went through, how can he be sure that he will still see God’s goodness? In the same way, we may be quite blessed at the moment, but what assurance do we have that these blessings will last? Or, if we are experiencing suffering, how do we know that it will all be good in the end?

David’s answers to these problems may actually come as a surprise. For him, the “goodness of the LORD” is not primarily material blessing, nor even a spiritual blessing in the sense of encouragement. Any encouragement or spiritual assurance is incidental to the true “goodness of the LORD” that David believes he will see. The idea of beholding, seeing, or seeking is central in this psalm. In verse 4, David says that he seeks to “gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.” Verse 8 records David’s response to God’s command to seek Him: “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”It is only after all this that David concludes, “I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!”

It’s clear by now that the goodness of God is not primarily a material or spiritual blessing. The goodness of God—the goodness that David seeks and believes he will see—is God Himself. This is why he says with confidence that he believes he will see God’s goodness. God’s goodness is not based on material things or spiritual feelings, both of which are liable to come and go; His goodness is based upon Himself.

In the end, it all comes back to the basics. Because of Jesus Christ, we have the chance to experience God and His goodness. If Christ is in us, God’s goodness is something that’s happening already, here, now. He has given us Himself, and that is all we need. We can have assurance, because nothing is surer than God. We can be encouraged, because God is with us and He is good. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

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