“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Fear. It takes different forms. Sometimes love of the Lord is talked about as fear of the Lord, being in awe of the Lord and holding a reverent attitude. But I do not think that is what is meant by the psalmist here. Fear can also be quaking back in terror, as if someone is confronted by a wild beast or monster – think scary movie. But fear can also be inner fear, anxiety and panic. While the psalmist may not have had that type of fear in mind, it is the type of “fear” that comes to my mind.
And so I ask myself, why should I be fearful and panicky about anything? Why should anybody, if the Lord as the light and salvation and as a stronghold is there to banish fear. I shouldn’t fear than, should I? No one should. But fear is in the world. There are things we are afraid of.
It’s not that these fearful things are so much stronger and more powerful; but they are tangible, and the Lord – for all the Lordly power there – is transcendent. And when we rely only on our human sense, you can figure out what we are more aware of. That is why I appreciate the verses that follow.
“One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live 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 he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.” (Verses 4 – 5)
We world we live in has things that are fearful, and that we are afraid of. It is an unavoidable fact. But if we live with the Lord, abiding with the Lord’s presence, we can see the fearful things but not let them cause us fear. The Lord will protect us from the fearful things, so that the important essence of us cannot be harmed.
Now, that may be “pie in the sky by and by.” And I admit that if confronted by a wild thing or physical danger, I may still “shake in my boots.” And I also admit that anxiety and panic may still overtake me. But having the Lord within me and sustaining me, I think I may just survive.
“Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” (Verse 6)
And I really do not think the psalmist is immune to fear, but like me wraps around him belief in the Lord, and trust that the Lord will be a sustaining presence.
“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!” (Verses 7 – 9)
Is that what it feels like to be “in fear”? Feeling like the Lord has forsaken you? Let us not confuse then, fear for unbelief. One can believe in the Lord, and still be afraid of things. One can not believe in the Lord and have no fears. But to go through this world without belief in the Lord to sustain the heart and soul? That would be scary!