To Calm Our Fears
The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear?The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me,My heart will not fear;Though war arise against me,Even in this I am confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek:That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life,To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the LordAnd to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter;In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,In His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy;I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;Be gracious and compassionate to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You,“Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].” Do not hide Your face from me,Do not turn Your servant away in anger;You have been my help;Do not abandon me nor leave me,O God of my salvation! Although my father and my mother have abandoned me,Yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. Teach me Your way, O Lord,And lead me on a level pathBecause of my enemies [who lie in wait]. Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,For false witnesses have come against me;They breathe out violence. I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the LordIn the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;Be strong and let your heart take courage;Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.
I remember the first time we took our children to Disneyland. Our youngest, then three-year old George Paul, enjoyed himself until we took the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
The minute our boat embarked from the dock and entered an artificial moonlit lagoon with pirate ships and cannon shots plopping into the water, he became afraid. His fear worsened as we ,sailed through make-believe pirate infested caver sand a shoot-‘em-up village. When we came to the final moments of the ride, hurtling down the rapids within a dark tunnel, his terror knew no bounds. He clung to me like a drowning cat, fingers dug into my nest and arms, screaming.
For years there was no way I could talk him into going on the ride again.in his mind, the events he had witnessed were real and life threatening. He wanted no further part of them.
David experiences his own Pirates of the Caribbean ride through the circumstances of Psalm 27, although his life situation is not make-believe. Twice in the first verse he reacts to danger about him with questions: “Whom shall I fear?” and “Of whom shall I be afraid?”
His psalm gives us words to pray when we feel too vulnerable and exposed to harm.
Fear is a common human factor usually stemming from situations that we feel we have little or no control over. If there are things in your life today that have produced a sense of fear in you there are two things you need to know: first you’re not alone or the only one who is feeling this way, and second, there is hope. In spite of the dreary and disturbing news, we are not all doomed and there is hope and help if we choose to seek it.
Throughout the Bible, most of the encounters between God and man have stemmed from places of fear- some of man’s own making and some from circumstances created by outside forces. We don’t need to spend time trying to figure out the source of fear for even if we could identify the source that doesn’t give us the power to overcome it.
The day that Adam and Eve sinned, their fear caused them to hid from God. I’m sure that they felt that it was a normal response to their failure. Unfortunately that same response occurs in us far too often. When we fail, our first impulse is to run away and hid until it blows over. Psalm 27 provides an avenue to confront and conqueror our fears.
As David is writing Psalm 27, his danger stemmed from the actions of other people. Our fears may come from the darker enemies of nonfulfillment, emptiness, dysfunction, unhappiness, futility, insecurity, or desperate loneliness. Whether our fears are internal or external, Psalm 27:1 declares that the Lord has given us three things against our fears:
Light. He illuminates us through His Word and the Spirit in the midst of the darkness within and without.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
Salvation. God not only turns on the light to show us the way; He gets us out of captivity.
“She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.”
Stronghold. In Him we gain the position of height, advantage, defensibility, perspective, and security against our foes.
“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” For He will save you from the trap of the fowler, And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.”
Psalm 91: 2-4
In this psalm, David answers the question he poses in verse one with verses two and three. In response to his question of how he will withstand all that is pressing in on him, he declares his confidence through the things that God has given.
Probably David wrote Psalm 27 when he was far from sanctuary- hiding in the rocks and caves of Judea. While the physical temple had not yet been built, he was already envisioning it and expressing his one desire to be safe in it where he could gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Although church buildings may represent a meeting place with God, without the presence of God they are only empty buildings. David understood that it wasn’t a physical place as much as it was a presence. When we’re in a storm, the church ought to be the place we run to but the church ought to be the place where we find God’s presence. What’s your desire when you’re in the storm?
The tone of the psalm changes in verse seven. The first six verses have expressed a intense trust in God but that certainty begins to waver in verses 7 to 14.
George Wood says, “This psalm is so much like our spiritual pilgrimage: three steps forward, two steps back. One moment David longs to look into the Lord’s face, and the next moment doubt enters: Will the Lord hide His face? Will He turn away in anger? Will He reject or forsake? But the assurance returns. There is constancy in God. He does not abandon or betray us. When you have had the experience of being “left” you can fully appreciate the contrast in God’s love, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
This place of being held tightly by God moves David to invite the Lord to teach him, to lead him, and to protect his life. Bracketing his questions and struggles, David closes the psalm in the confidence which it begins. He declares that the goodness of the Lord will not just be seen in the hereafter but now “in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27 speaks to the extremes in the journey of life; not just the imaginary wild rides but the real ones as well. God always holds tightly to those who trust Him. Peter learned that in the storm as Jesus grasped his hand and lifted him above the waves. Paul experienced the protection of God when the boat he was in was being driven across the Mediterranean. We can know that place of safety and security too.
Someone has said that God is going to pull us through if we can stand the pull. As we trust Him in the most desperate moments, we will discover His faithfulness toward us.
As he travels on this journey of life, David calls out to fellow travelers: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” I know that sometimes it’s hard to wait a day. Sometimes it’s hard to wait an hour. At other times even minutes or seconds seem to barely move as we watch the hands of the clock. In those moments, could I suggest that as you wait, you fill that time with remembering the goodness and the promises of God. Rehearse them over and over in your mind. Let them speak to the doubts and wind of despair. Let them become the light in your place of darkness. Learn that you don’t have to be strong or to stand when you’re being held by a loving Father. Peter learned that it wasn’t his faith or strength that saved him in the storm. It was the presence and the help and the holding of Christ. If you’re in a storm, seek His presence.
Dr. John Thompson