Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Augustine sees Psalm 27 as something spoken by “Christ’s young soldier, on his coming to the faith” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320775). Verse one emphasizes his fearlessness. There is nobody to be feared. The Lord protects His people. The enemies of the righteous, in verse two, are “the guilty.” They may consume my “flesh” which Augustine takes as “fleshly desires” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320775), but they are not able to bring harm. Rather, they drive us to depend on God.
The desire of the Psalmist, then, in verse four, is to dwell in God’s house. Augustine sums it up “That as long as I am in this life, no adversities may exclude me from the number of them who hold the unity and the truth of the Lord’s faith throughout the world” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320783). The Christian is thus given immortality, as part of God’s temple, In verse five, Augustine sees an important variation in the vocabulary. Rather than speaking of the temple, here God hides his people in “His tabernacle.” Augustine comments that “He hath hidden me in the dispensation of His Incarnate Word in the time of temptations, to which my mortal life is exposed” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320790). The tabernacle, then, is Jesus, God the Son. Likewise, in verse six, the Christian is built “on a rock,” the rock of salvation, Christ, who makes us glad.
There remain trials, as Augustine notes in verse seven. The Psalmist does cry out to God for mercy, a mercy found in the face of God (verse 8) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320798). Verse nine asks God not to turn his face away, which Augustine finds as a looking away in anger, rather than looking to the Psalmist in love. Even family may abandon us, as in verse ten, but God, in his perfect love, can direct us in the right path, one of safety (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320812). Therefore, the Psalmist asks that God would not deliver him to those who have attacked him. He does not seek their earthly glory and honor. Rather, he looks for the good of the Lord, which Augustine notes is always true (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320819). This alone will prevent all despair.