Psalm 27:3 is a statement missing its reference. David says “in this I will trust,” but what is the this?
בזאת אני בוטח
B’zot ani botei’ach
In this I will trust
Some translations smooth over it: “still I will be confident” (NJPS) and “yet I will be confident” (RSV).
When enemies come to devour his flesh, when foes and tormentors harass, even if a war is launched against him, what will David trust in?
Rashi and Radak (David Kimchi) say the this refers to verse 1: “The Lord is my light and my rescue.”
Ibn Ezra and Sforno say the this is the principle in the next verse: “One thing I ask of the Lord, only that do I seek: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, to frequent His temple.” That is to say, David trusts in the fact of his righteousness, that he has unselfish righteousness.
Both interpretations have merit. Yet the opinion of Rashi and Radak seems the better choice. Why? Because “in this I will trust” is part of the first section of the Psalm, vss. 1-3, and in vs. 4, it seems clear a new section begins. It is more likely the “this” refers to its own section and not the next one.
If this is so, David’s trust, even when foes make war with him, is the character of God, that God “is my light and my rescue.” Later, the Psalm will explore the tension between reality, in which there is real peril and real suffering, and the trusted fact of God’s character, that he is light and rescue. For now, in this part, it is a trustworthy saying worthy of confronting life with. And when things look treacherous, it is a truth to hold on to.