One of the most widely acknowledged effects of the fall of man is the universal and persistent experience of fear. Fear is an experience that is common to man, regardless of his geographic location or his status in life. It is that tightening of the stomach that happens when a threat, either real or imagined, rises up against us. It was in the Garden, when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, that fear, shame and death entered the world and we have been experiencing those effects ever since. Thus it is with great wonder that David writes in Psalm 34:4,
“I sought the LORD and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Is it possible that there is a way to escape my slavery to fear and to be delivered from it? Is it possible to be delivered from ALL my fears? Maybe David is writing hyperbolically. Maybe he is just exaggerating about this overcoming of fear for poetic effect. But maybe he is not. Let’s think about this.
Notice first that it is the LORD who delivered David from his fears. So the LORD is the one who delivers from fear. It is not by a man’s ingenuity or by his own positive thinking that he will escape from any one fear, let alone escape from ALL his fears. If a man fears poverty, no amount of money will ever be enough to remove that fear. If you fear being alone, then no amount of friends and acquaintances will give you security. If you fear failure, then you will be haunted by those fears no matter how successful you are. If you fear death, then everywhere you look you will see death and be reminded that the grave awaits. But here we read that, when we seek the LORD, He will answer us and He will deliver us from our fears. In the Bible, one of the most common phrases uttered by the LORD in the Old Testament and by Jesus Christ in the gospels is, “Fear not!” So the first KEY is that the LORD is the one who delivers from fear.
How does the LORD deliver me from ALL my fears? The Psalmist says that the LORD delivered him from ALL his fears. This means that David’s fears were not vanquished one at a time. That would take too long and by the time one fear was removed, another would come to take its place. David’s fears were all suddenly removed. One minute his fears were there and the next minute they were removed. How did this happen? The LORD delivered David from ALL his fears by replacing his fears with trust in the LORD.
And this is the same for any believer. When I feel fear, it means that I am not trusting the LORD. I am not believing the LORD’s promises and I am doubting that He is able to protect me and to direct my life for His glory. I am letting things that I see weigh more than the things in which I hope. I am letting the things of this world outweigh those of the world to come. Fear indicates to me that I do not believe that the LORD will really come through for me and I effectively doubt that He is able to deliver me or that He cares about me enough to come to my aid.
But this psalm says that the LORD “delivered me from ALL my fears.” How is this done? When we move from weak faith to full faith, we are delivered from ALL our fears. When our trust in the LORD is strong and complete, ALL our fears are overwhelmed. Great fears and small fears are vanquished together, because we have moved to the place of complete trust in the LORD.
So ALL fears are vanquished not by the LORD removing them one at a time, but my fears are vanquished and I am delivered from my fears when my faith and trust in the LORD is so strong that fear itself is overwhelmed.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
RMB 4/1/2015 #22