Psalm 27: 1-3
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?
When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
Notice how in just a few verses, David talks about fear 3 times:
- Whom shall I fear?
- Of whom shall I be afraid?
- My heart will not fear.
The first and the third words are the typical Hebrew word for fear – yarah
However the one on the middle is the word – pachad – meaning dread or terror. It’s a much stronger word where fear becomes all consuming. Fear becomes overwhelming. You actually become paralysed by fear and dread of what lies or might lie ahead.
We all have fears in life. What’s your greatest fear? Have you any phobias? Heights, spiders, dogs, flying? Here's some more unusual fears:
- Ablutophobia – fear of bathing
- Ergophobia – fear of having to work
- Nomophobia – fear of not having your mobile phone
- Turophobia – fear of cheese
- Xanthophobia – fear of the colour yellow
- Phobophobia – fear of having a phobia
The thing about fears is that often we know they are irrational, but we can’t control them. They control us. People can try to tell us not to be so silly, they can give us facts designed to stop us being afraid – but it doesn’t do any good.
That’s the ordinary fears and phobias we have. Things like claustrophobia and fear of flying. But then there the fears which are much stronger – the things we dread, the fears which consume us, that overwhelm us and paralyse us.
Most of our greatest fears are – "what if…" fears. They are things that might happen, that could happen, that we have maybe seen happen to others.
These fears prevents us living life to the full, they immobilize us into passive lives where the greatest goal is to avoid certain things, not enjoy life.
I read the story of a tourist who was driving through the countryside when he saw an old farmer sitting in a rocking chair on his porch. Behind his farmhouse was seventy-five hectares of land.
The tourist asked, 'Is that your land?'
'Yep,' he replied.
'Well, what are you doing with it? Are you thinking of growing cotton?' the tourist asked.
'Nope, I'm afraid the boll weevils will get it,' said the farmer.
'What about corn?' the tourist asked.
'No, I'm afraid the locusts will eat it,' he replied.
'Well,' the tourist asked, 'What about raising cattle?'
The farmer said, 'I'm afraid the price of beef might go down.'
'So, what are you going to do with all that prime farmland?' the tourist asked.
'Nothing. I'm just going to play it safe.'
Fear causes us to play life safe, to never take risks, to live restricted, inhibited lives. It affects our health, our relationships, our jobs, our families, our relationship with God.
When it controls us it can lead to psychological disorders like compulsive disorders, habits like picking skin and biting nails, panic attacks, irrational thinking, and it can damage our ability to live a normal life and have normal healthy relationships.
Neil Anderson says this:
“Fear is a thief. It erodes our faith, plunders our hope, steals our freedom and takes away our joy of living the abundant life in Christ.”
Fear wants to be the boss. It wants to control us.
Many people live like Charlie Brown who said this: “I have a new philosophy. I only dread one day at time.”
If that is you – what do you do? If you are consumed by fear – where do you go with it? How do you deal with it?
Some people turn to food or alcohol or pills. Some go to a psychiatrist. Some go shopping to self-medicate. Some become workaholics. Some escape to the computer, to watching TV, to social media. A world of escapism. Look at how David deals with his fear.
“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?” (v. 1)
GOD IS GREATER THAN YOUR FEAR
Notice which comes first in David’s mind: The Lord - and then fear. He chooses to fix his mind on the character of God. He chooses to consciously think about the nature of Yahweh.
How does he describe God?
First of all – God is His LIGHT.
Darkness and fear are very closely linked. For many of us as children, we learned that most bad things happen in the dark. That’s why so many children want a little night light left on. It makes them feel safe and secure.
When we talk about darkness it often represents something negative: 'I’m going through a dark time in my life right now'; 'It feels like there’s a dark cloud hanging over me'; 'I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something dark about that person.'
David here knows what it’s like to be surrounded by darkness. And yet he’s not afraid. Because the Lord is his light and light always dispels darkness. Light always overcomes darkness. Even the greatest darkness can never consume the smallest light.
1 John 1: 5 says this: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
God is perfect light, the brightest light, the strongest light – and no darkness can stand against Him.
Light removes the fear that comes with the unknown. Light reveals the location of our enemies. Light exposes secret plots. Light leads us to a way of escape. Light speaks of David’s boldness. He wasn’t going to hide in the darkness.
As well as being light – look at what else David says – The Lord is my SALVATION.
Do you know what the Hebrew word for salvation is that David uses here? It’s the word – Yeshua. It’s the Hebrew name for Jesus. Yeshua means saviour, rescuer, deliverer. It speaks of victory over our enemies.
Even before he’s won the battle, David is declaring victory. He knows he’s on the winning team. He knows that God will save him. It a done deal.
Finally he says the Lord is his STRONGHOLD
It means fortress or refuge. It’s a safe, strong place to go where you know you can’t be harmed. You are completely protected. You can relax, you can feel secure, you can rest.
To live an unshakeable life we need to know the character and nature of God. We need to understand what our God is like. How strong He is. How mighty He is. How awesome He is. How powerful He is. We need to know it not as objective information in our heads – but experientially, personally, deep in our hearts and souls.
Notice David doesn’t say – The Lord is a light, a stronghold. He says: The Lord is MY Light, MY Salvation, MY Stronghold. It’s personal. He knows God’s character first hand. Not just through what he’s been told – He has got these truths deep down through the experiences of God he has had in his life.
Many people know a lot about God. Or maybe they think they do. To be unshakeable we need to know God personally, to meditate on God’s Word the truth of who He is, of His character.
AW Tozer wrote this:
“The Christian is strong or weak depending on how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.”
Because of who God is, David shrugs his shoulders at all the enemies and evil that are coming against him.
He says – who shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid? The answer is nothing or no one.
If God is your light, your salvation and your stronghold, be assured today, no matter what comes against you - you have nothing to fear!