Fear of heights may stop some people from walking along this path. About a metre or so from where I took this photo there is a sheer drop of 100 + metres to the rocks and ocean below and this may be enough to turn some off and send them to check out, what they may consider, less dangerous attractions. Even though I’m not a great lover of heights I enjoyed walking these paths along the Kalbarri cliffs (in WA) recently. But there have been times in my life when fear has been an issue hindering me and I have had to remind myself that with God with me I need not fear.
In fact, “Fear not”, words often spoken by the Lord to his servants, seems to be a pretty common phrase in the Bible (at least 170 times)! And here in this great Psalm 27 David asked the questions in verse 1, “whom shall I fear?” and then “of whom shall I be afraid?” In verse 3 he then makes the statement, “my heart will not fear”! He recognizes that there was no one or nothing he needed to fear, basing such confidence in the Lord with him.
Consider again these amazing verses from this psalm:
The Passion Translation entitles Psalm 27 Fearless Faith!
1 The Lord is my revelation-light to guide me along the way; he’s the source of my salvation to defend me every day. I fear no one! I’ll never turn back and run from you, Lord; surround and protect me. 2 When evil ones come to destroy me, they will be the ones who turn back. 3 My heart will not be afraid even if an army rises to attack. I know that you are there for me, so I will not be shaken.
One commentary on this psalm says that it “is an example of the honest dialogue of faith characteristic of the psalmists in the face of opposition…Verses 1-3 establish the basis of the psalm in terms of trust…The first verse…puts before readers two alternatives for life – fear or faith. Fear, and not doubt is cast as the alternative to faith.”
I realize that fear is a normal human response to frightening situations in life and certain kinds of fear are healthy to prevent us from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual harm. But to remain in a state of fear, i.e. being “paralysed” by fear, and so not being able to do what is required of us, is not healthy.
I remember the time many years ago when my wife and I were planning to leave our home and move interstate for a couple of years of training to prepare for what we believed was God’s calling upon our lives, i.e. to eventually serve Him overseas in missions. At that stage we were blessed with the first 2 of our 4 children and they were only 3 ½ and 1 ½ years old. Unlike my wife, I had travelled very little in my life and so this was a new experience for me, and I naturally had some concerns about uprooting the family and moving them away from all that was familiar.
I expressed my fears to the Lord and as I read His Word He spoke the following words of comfort to my heart, enabling me to press on, in faith, without fear of the unknown.
“The Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11)
That day I knew, like David, that I could say, “my heart will not fear” as I considered my family and the Lord’s loving kindness towards us. And now, many years later I can look back and see the Lord’s hand upon us all through the good and difficult times. It’s true, he did “gently lead” us with our young family and cared for us all along the way. He is a good Father!
So, I wonder, what do you fear today? Maybe it involves a big step of faith like us? Maybe it’s trusting God for his provision in an uncertain future? Maybe it is related to illness? Maybe even the prospect of dying? Maybe you are just not sure if God can really be trusted if you make a certain decision? Whatever it is, learn from David’s experience of walking with God and do not fear.
The commentators mentioned above continue concerning these first 3 verses of Psalm 27:
“The two faith affirmations suggest why the poet chooses faith. The Lord is light that dispels darkness and the one who brings wholeness (salvation) to life. The second image of the divine is ‘stronghold’, refuge or defence. In spite of life-threatening opponents…trust is the order of the day…In the face of armies and war and the onslaught of evil, the psalmist embraces trust in the mighty fortress who is the saving and protecting God. God is worthy of trust.” (see references # 39)
And if this is not enough for you, then there is the powerful truth that Paul wrote centuries after David when he said:
“If God is for us, who can be against us…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…[nothing] in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
So, if the alternatives are fear or faith, choose faith in our good and loving God.
Father, what an incredible privilege it is to live life knowing you. There is so much around us that could drive us to a place of being “paralysed with fear” – wars, terrorism, poverty, injustice, corrupt politics, faltering economies, our own weaknesses – but you are our light and our salvation, the stronghold of our lives and in you we will trust. Amen.