Question: "What does it mean that the Lord is the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1)?"
Answer: In Psalm 27:1, King David presents every believer with the remedy for fear: “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?” (Psalm 27:1, NKJV).
Against every threat, David raised three shields. The first was the Lord’s light—a metaphor for God’s darkness-dispelling holiness, truth, and guiding presence (Psalm 18:28; 36:9; 43:3). Second, David recognized that the Lord’s salvation preserved him from danger, harm, and destruction. And finally, David stood on this rock-solid defense: “The Lord is the strength of my life.”
The Hebrew word (ma’oz), translated as “strength” (NKJV) in Psalm 27:1, means “stronghold” (ESV, NIV, CSB) or “fortress” (NLT). It describes a safe refuge fortified with high rock walls. By saying, “The Lord is the strength of my life,” David underscores God’s unwavering protection to those who call on Him for help. He repeats the sentiment in Psalm 28:8: “The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king” (NLT). Again, David declares, “The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble” (Psalm 37:39, NLT; see also Psalm 31:2).
As a king and warrior, David understood God to be his safe retreat from the battles of life. David found healing, renewal, and restoration of strength when he spent time in God’s presence. As David’s stronghold, God also offered a secure shelter from which to launch a counterattack on the evil forces David was sure to encounter each day.
For the Lord to be the strength of our life, we must first accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Since we were powerless to save ourselves, God, in His mercy and grace, saved us through the sacrifice of His Son (Ephesians 2:5–9; see also James 4:12). Once we receive the strength of God’s salvation, we can begin to “understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19–20, NLT).
To every believer who places his or her trust in the Lord, His name becomes “a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). The name of the Lord expresses His essential nature, character, and authority. His name represents the Lord Himself. The Lord alone is the true refuge of His people: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea” (Psalm 46:1–2, NLT).
When we say, “The Lord is the strength of my life,” we mean God is our sure defense against every threat, fear, and enemy (Deuteronomy 33:27). The Lord safely guards those who call upon Him throughout all the days of their lives (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21; John 10:28–29). Rather than let anxiety consume us, the Bible instructs us to “pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NLT).
The apostle Paul trusted in the Lord to be the strength of his life (Ephesians 3:16; 6:10; Philippians 4:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17). He wrote of God’s fear-conquering love, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31, 38–39).
Believers can confidently say, “The Lord is the strength of my life,” when they relinquish control and place themselves wholly in God’s hands. Like young David, who found the courage and strength to confront the giant Goliath through profound dependence on the Lord (1 Samuel 17:45), we too must realize that only by God’s power can we “push back our enemies” and “trample our foes” (see Psalm 44:4–8). God alone “gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29–31, NLT).