Fear has caused people to miss more of life than probably any other aspect of life. It captures our imaginations and will not let go, as it focuses our hearts and minds on all of the negative possibilities of our actions. Fear paralyzes and cripples us. It is when we become fearless that we truly begin to live. Yes, there is the good fear that warns us of impending dangers, and certainly we need it. But, I am writing about the fear that holds us as prisoners of the what-ifs, causing us to miss out on so much of what life has to offer us.
In this Psalm Wednesday entry, David declared that he had a fearless life, made so by his trust in God. Psalm 27 has always been a favorite of mine, proclaiming that because God never leaves us or forsakes us, we have no reason to fear anyone or anything. Indeed, as I read this psalm, I was reminded of Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This psalm demonstrates that David knew who to fear and who not to fear.
Psalm 27:1-3 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? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
David began this psalm by proclaiming that God was his light, his salvation, and his strength. Therefore, he did not feel that he had to fear anyone or anything, including war. In the stories of David’s life found in 1 and 2 Samuel, he had many enemies, including King Saul; Absalom, his own son; and Sheba, among others. All of his enemies eventually died, while David lived on. Indeed, Sheba lost his head (2 Samuel 20)! David did not fear war, for he knew that his salvation was in the Lord, for he repeats in Psalm 56:34, “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
Today, Jesus is the light, salvation, and strength of our lives. Walking in His power helps guide us through the tough times. Salvation denotes the need for deliverance from something or someone that hinders us physically, mentally, or spiritually. Light filters out the darkness that can be manifested in depression and other forms of mental challenges including addictions. But, light overcomes the darkness, drawing us into the presence of Almighty God, El Shaddai, who brings us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
Strength denotes the possibility of being weak, especially in our faith, and the need to remember that the battle is always the Lord’s, not ours, and the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). God promises to save us from our sins and our adversaries, and He gives us strength to endure the hardships that inevitably come our way. If you have not had any trials, then just keep on living!
Because we know that Jesus is with us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we should have fewer fears than unbelievers. Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” We walk in the assurance that we are never alone. But, also we know that 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Psalm 27:4-6 One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle he shall hide me; he shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore, I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
David understood that one of the places in which we stay connected to the Lord is in His house, where the glory of God and the beauty of His holiness should be found in ways that encourage us to learn of Him, a place where we have our questions, doubts, and, yes, unbelief answered and explained truthfully, as teachers and preachers rightly divide the Truth for us.
In David’s day, there was the tabernacle tent where the Jews worshiped, and there David found a hiding place from his troubles in the presence of God. The lifting up of his head over his enemies helped him to survive every trial. In Psalm 32:7-9, David presented a dialog between him and the Lord. It states, “For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” In response to God’s goodness, David would sing the praises to God. Some of those psalms today still refresh our souls and renew our faith.
Douglas told me that while he was in jail for five months for contempt of court, having angered the judge during a very contentious divorce, he had to learn to mentally and spiritually leave the jail and dwell with God, and that God would hide him in His secret place, setting him high on a rock where the other inmates could not drag him to their level. God kept him safe from his enemies, who were mainly guys who did not like him evangelizing to the other inmates.
Still, Douglas created Bible studies and led many of the men whom he saw as hurting and lost individuals to the Lord. In fact, one of the most vocal of the inmates against Douglas eventually started coming to the Bible study. He did not accept salvation, but the seed was planted. God kept Douglas safe during times when he would step in when inmates fought, reasoning with them, trying to keep them out of solitary confinement. God seemed to confound the people who would have tried to hurt him. He was assaulted a couple of time but did not get hurt as much as he could have, but he kept on working for the Lord. He believes that God put his head above the enemy, and he praised God for His protection and care.
Today, God is still our hiding place, a very present help in times of trouble. He still watches over His children, being just where He is needed. As He told Joshua, so it is with us: Be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).
Psalm 27: 7-10 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice. Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger; you have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”
Now that David had made his declaration of trust, he began a prayer to God, asking God for mercy, attention to his cries, and answers. He reminded God that he had obeyed His command to seek Him, and he asked God not to hide from him or be angry with him. David knew that he needed the presence and care of God with him always, even more than the presence and care of his mother and father.
We pray also that God will hear our prayers, inclining His ears to us, and granting us peace. God calls for us to seek Him just as David did. In Jeremiah 29:12-14a, it states, “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord.” Let us pray like David with the calm assurance that God hears and will answer our prayers, in His own ways and in His own time.
Even before my parents died over 30 years ago, I learned to put my trust in God. They were individuals with their own demons to fight, so they had no time for their children, leaving us struggling with the world alone. Yet, I knew that my Father in heaven was listening to my cries and seeing my tears, so everything would be alright, if I were patient and kept believing. Jesus kept His promise to all of us, for after He ascended to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit, known as our Comforter, Advocate, Helper, and Counselor, so we cease to be orphans and remain children of God, who never will neglect or abandon us.
Psalm 27: 11-14 Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!
David prayed for God’s guidance and leading, realizing that his enemies were violent and told lies about him, so he needed the strength and presence of God to be victorious against them. He stated that he would have felt hopeless and fainted with all of his enemies around, if he had not believed that God was faithful and would show him goodness while he was still living, rescuing him from his enemies. He ended this psalm by giving his readers two very good suggestions regarding how to live a fearless life: wait on the Lord and be courageous.
Those are still great pieces of advice for people today, for people telling lies on us or trying to hurt our reputations did not end with David’s generation. So, it is still the case that when we pray, we must ask God to lead us and guide us every step of the way. We must be patient and wait for God to move in His own time and way, recognizing that He is always going ahead of us to work things out for our good. Remember, too, that enemies are all around, especially if we are doing God’s work.
Ephesian 6:10-13 states, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
This psalm reminds us that if we are to lead fearless lives, meaning lives absent anxiety and stress in our situation, then our trust and confident hope must be in the Lord, and in Him only. We cannot put our trust and hopes in politicians, no matter the party affiliation, and we cannot place our trust and confident hope in the material things around us, including our jobs. Humans and material things are too fickle for us to place our trust and hope in them. It is like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand (Isaiah 36:6).
We must continue to lean and depend on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Great is His faithfulness to us. Seek him while He may be found, and let us invite God to let His glory fill our hearts, our spirits, our homes, and our places of worship, so we can behold Him in the beauty of His holiness. Let us also work while it is still day, helping others to seek Him and know Him, for that is His command to us.
Dear Holy Father,
We come to You in thanksgiving and love, so appreciative that You are always present in our lives. It is so comforting to know that nothing can separate us from Your love, and that our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. You have made us clean and justified through the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you for the sacrifice of Your only Son. What love is this that is so amazing and faithful! Hear our cries, O Lord, and let our prayers rise up like incense, captured by You, heard and answered. Praise to You, Almighty God, for keeping us safe from enemies seen and unseen. Bless Your holy name. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.