Psalm 27 does an odd thing, it has a number of high security phrases like, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life,” and “set me high upon a rock.” It appeals to the fortress mentality of our faith, as if to say that is the reason for religion. It being Lent, I was struck by the wilderness and the 'seeking God for God’s sake' quality of the Psalm. David is saying, I only want to seek the Lord’s face, nothing else matters. What David really found in the wilderness wasn’t security from madman Saul, but the mystery of God in the night. Jesus also retreated into the wilderness and into his all night prayer sessions, not because he found people threatening, but because the mystery of seeking to know God is fundamental to the human experience.
The common book of prayer does an apt thing in the responsive reading of Psalm 27:5, instead of speaking about God’s tabernacle, it says, “He shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling...” How important are the secrets of God to us? It is easy to get the wrong idea about our reason for practicing religion. It’s not like we go to church to buy an insurance policy. I know this doesn’t preach as easily as the fortress aspects of Psalm 27. Jesus wasn’t going for the easy message when he told Nicodemus that the spirit of God that allows us to be reborn is like the wind, blowing where you do not expect it (John 3:5-9).
It is not possible to do Lent without pausing for ecstasy. Young John and Jesus’ mother Mary were not just filled with grief as they watched Jesus die; they were transformed by the mystery of it all. This informs every word John uses to tell the story, from “we have beheld his glory” (John 1:14) to Revelation’s final amen. It is the reason for religion that Job found after all his troubles and seeking to see God. That old seer, melted away repenting in dust and ashes (Job 42:1-6). There are worse ways to do Lent.