Psalm 27

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Psalm 27
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"
The beginning with initial 'D' in the Luttrell Psalter
Other name
  • Psalm 26 (Vulgate)
  • "Dominus illuminatio mea"
LanguageHebrew (original)
Psalm 27
BookBook of Psalms
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part1
CategorySifrei Emet
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part19

Psalm 27 is the 27th psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?". The Book of Psalms is part of the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate translations of the Bible, this psalm is Psalm 26. In Latin, it is known as "Dominus illuminatio mea".[1]

The psalm forms a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Nonconformist Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Frances Allitsen among others.



The following table shows the Hebrew text[2][3] of the Psalm with vowels alongside an English translation based upon the JPS 1917 translation (now in the public domain).

Verse Hebrew English translation (JPS 1917)
1 לְדָוִ֨ד ׀ יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ אוֹרִ֣י וְ֭יִשְׁעִי מִמִּ֣י אִירָ֑א יְהֹוָ֥ה מָעוֹז־חַ֝יַּ֗י מִמִּ֥י אֶפְחָֽד׃ [A Psalm] of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 בִּקְרֹב עָלַי מְרֵעִים לֶאֱכֹל אֶת־בְּשָׂרִי צָרַי וְאֹיְבַי לִי הֵמָּה כָשְׁלוּ וְנָפָלוּ׃ When evil-doers came upon me to eat up my flesh, even mine adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell.
3 אִם־תַּחֲנֶה עָלַי מַחֲנֶה לֹא־יִירָא לִבִּי אִם־תָּקוּם עָלַי מִלְחָמָה בְּזֹאת אֲנִי בוֹטֵחַ׃ Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident.
4 אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת־יְהוָה אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית־יְהוָה כָּל־יְמֵי חַיַּי לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם־יְהוָה וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ׃ 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 behold the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in His temple.
5 כִּי יִצְפְּנֵנִי בְּסֻכֹּה בְּיוֹם רָעָה יַסְתִּרֵנִי בְּסֵתֶר אָהֳלוֹ בְּצוּר יְרוֹמְמֵנִי׃ For He concealeth me in His pavilion in the day of evil; he hideth me in the covert of His tent; he lifteth me up upon a rock.
6 וְעַתָּה יָרוּם רֹאשִׁי עַל אֹיְבַי סְבִיבוֹתַי וְאֶזְבְּחָה בְאָהֳלוֹ זִבְחֵי תְרוּעָה אָשִׁירָה וַאֲזַמְּרָה לַיהוָה׃ And now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me; and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices with trumpet-sound; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.
7 שְׁמַע־יְהוָה קוֹלִי אֶקְרָא וְחָנֵּנִי וַעֲנֵנִי׃ Hear, O Lord, when I call with my voice, and be gracious unto me, and answer me.
8 לְךָ אָמַר לִבִּי בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ יְהוָה אֲבַקֵּשׁ׃ In Thy behalf my heart hath said: 'Seek ye My face'; thy face, Lord, will I seek.
9 אַל־תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי אַל־תַּט־בְּאַף עַבְדֶּךָ עֶזְרָתִי הָיִיתָ אַל־תִּטְּשֵׁנִי וְאַל־תַּעַזְבֵנִי אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעִי׃ Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger; Thou hast been my help; cast me not off, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 כִּי־אָבִי וְאִמִּי עֲזָבוּנִי וַיהוָה יַאַסְפֵנִי׃ For though my father and my mother have forsaken me, the Lord will take me up.
11 הוֹרֵנִי יְהוָה דַּרְכֶּךָ וּנְחֵנִי בְּאֹרַח מִישׁוֹר לְמַעַן שׁוֹרְרָי׃ Teach me Thy way, O Lord; and lead me in an even path, because of them that lie in wait for me.
12 אַל־תִּתְּנֵנִי בְּנֶפֶשׁ צָרָי כִּי קָמוּ־בִי עֵדֵי־שֶׁקֶר וִיפֵחַ חָמָס׃ Deliver me not over unto the will of mine adversaries; for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out violence.
13 לוּלֵא הֶאֱמַנְתִּי לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב־יְהוָה בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים׃ If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!—
14 קַוֵּה אֶל־יְהוָה חֲזַק וְיַאֲמֵץ לִבֶּךָ וְקַוֵּה אֶל־יְהוָה׃ Wait on the Lord; be strong, and let thy heart take courage; yea, wait thou for the Lord.

English translation (King James Version)[edit]

  1. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  2. When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
  3. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
  4. One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
  5. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
  6. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
  7. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
  8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
  9. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
  10. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
  11. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
  12. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
  13. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
  14. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.


Tradition attributes Psalm 27 to King David.[4] Some commentators claim that it is a composite work by at least two authors brought together by an editor.[5][6][7] Protestant Christians have traditionally thought of it as written early in David's life, during his flight from King Saul,[8] with Charles Spurgeon suggesting specifically the incident with Doeg the Edomite (1 Samuel 21–22).[9]


Coat of arms at Oxford University showing first verse of Psalm 27

Traditionally this Psalm is divided into two sections, verses 1–6 and 7–14. The first section declares the power of God and a boundless hope that God will bring rescue and protection from all enemies.[10] The second portion has a clear shift in tone with the declaration "I believe".[11] The New American Bible, Revised Edition, describes each part as "complete in itself".[12] Some scholarship contends that it may have originally been two separate psalms.[13][14]

In Hebrew the first three verses increase numerically: Two parallel phrases of five words each, then six, then seven (hinting at completion in Jewish numerology).[13]

The Psalm is a cry for help,[15] and ultimately a declaration of belief in the greatness of God and trust in the protection God provides. It may be a sequel to the preceding psalm.


Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 92v - Psalm XXVI the Musée Condé, Chantilly. Psalm 27 in the Hebrew Bible (and most modern translations).


  • Many Sephardic communities recite this Psalm every weekday at the end of Shacharit.
  • In most Ashkenazic communities, it recited twice daily (in Shacharit, and either Mincha or Maariv) from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Shemini Atzeret (in Israel, until Hoshana Rabbah), a period of repentance based in the Midrash.[16] This custom does not seem to be older than the 17th century, and in some communities it was never accepted, and some communities recite it in Shacharit only.
  • Verse 7 is found in the repetition of the Shacharit Amidah during Rosh Hashanah.[17]
  • Verse 13 is found in the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah.[18]
  • Verse 14 is the opening of verses recited by some before Ein Keloheinu.[19]


In the Roman Rite liturgy, this Psalm is recited, divided into its two parts, at Vespers on Wednesday of the first week of the four-week cycle,[20] as well as being used often as a responsorial psalm at Mass.

A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture[21] says the first poem of which Psalm 27 is composed is an expression of confidence that God will bring help and of devotion to the Temple, and the second is a cry for help. Mary Kathleen Glavich's The Catholic Companion to the Psalms recounts how a woman wrote the first verses of Psalm 27 (boundless hope that God will bring rescue) on the wall of the brothel room where she was confined against her will.[22] Pope John Paul II also spoke of the first part of the psalm as "marked by a deep tranquillity, based on trust in God on the dark day of the evildoers' assault". In the second part too, he said, "the decisive element is the trust of the person of prayer in the Lord", whose face the person seeks, an expression of "the mystical need of divine intimacy through prayer", an intimacy made possible even in this life through Christ.[23]


Matthew Henry similarly saw the Psalm as a metaphor for the Christian life, that "whatever the Christian is as to this life, he considers the favour and service of God as the one thing needful..."[24] while Spurgeon sees the Psalm as at once the language of David, but also descriptive of the Church, and Jesus. Calvin saw it more as a prayer of thankfulness and composure.[25]

The late Dr Helen Roseveare, a medical missionary to the Congo, doctor and author, used Psalm 27:3 and seeking the beauty of God in her exhortation to persevere as part of her advice: "Here's one thing you should know, one thing you should do and one thing we should ask for to keep on keeping on" and considered it akin to Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven and his righteousness".[26]

Book of Common Prayer[edit]

In the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, this psalm, entitled Dominus illuminatio, is appointed to be read on the evening of the fifth day of the month.[27]

Musical settings[edit]

Heinrich Schütz wrote a setting of a metric paraphrase of Psalm 27 in German, "Mein Licht und Heil ist Gott der Herr", SWV 124, for the Becker Psalter, published first in 1628. Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed "Dominus illuminatio mea", H.229 in 1699 for soloists, chorus, strings and continuo.

Frances Allitsen composed a musical setting based on Psalm 27 for voice and piano called "The Lord is My Light," published in 1897.

Alan Hovhaness set portions of this psalm and Psalm 117 for his 1935 work The God of Glory Thundereth.[28]

In popular culture[edit]

The psalm is featured in the 2017 Western film Hostiles.


  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 26 (27) Archived 10 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Psalms – Chapter 27". Mechon Mamre.
  3. ^ "Psalms 27 - JPS 1917".
  4. ^ "Psalm 27 (New International Version)". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  5. ^ Artur Weiser (1 October 2000). The Psalms: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-664-22297-0.
  6. ^ "Psalm 27:1". Bible Hub. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  7. ^ Haydock, George Leo. "Psalm 26 (27 in modern numbering)". Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  8. ^ Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on the Whole Bible – Psalms 27". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  9. ^ Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David Archived 2014-12-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Psalm 27:4–6.
  11. ^ Psalm 27:7–12.
  12. ^ Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. (1970), Footnote a to Psalm 27
  13. ^ a b Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal Psalm 27.
  14. ^ Herman Nicolaas Ridderbos, Die Psalmen: Stilistische Verfahren und Aufbau mit besonderer Berücksichtigung von Psalm 1-41, (Berlin 1972), p211.
  15. ^ Pearson, A., Psalm 27, Fairhope United Methodist Church, Alabama, published 29 June 2020, accessed 7 March 2021
  16. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 170
  17. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 349
  18. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 465
  19. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 477
  20. ^ The main cycle of liturgical prayers takes place over four weeks.
  21. ^ Reginald C. Fuller, Leonard Johnston, Conleth Kearns (editors), A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (Nelson 1969)
  22. ^ Mary Kathleen Glavich, The Catholic Companion to the Psalms (ACTA Publications 2008 ISBN 978-0-87946364-9), p. 25
  23. ^ Pope John Paul II General Audience, Wednesday, 28 April 2004.
  24. ^ Matthew Henry, Psalm 27.
  25. ^ Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms, Part I, translated by John King, [1847-50], at
  26. ^ Piper, J. et al. (2008), Stand, A Call for the Endurance of the Saints
  27. ^ Church of England, Book of Common Prayer: The Psalter as printed by John Baskerville in 1762, pp. 196ff
  28. ^ "Alan Hovhaness List of Works by Opus Number". Retrieved 2022-10-30.

External links[edit]