Faith and Fear
Faith and Fear (Psalm 27:1-6)
Psychology Today asked 1,000 respondents what they most feared. The answers in order of frequency were: death of a loved one, serious personal illness, financial worries, nuclear war, being a crime victim, spiders, loss of a job, natural disaster, the dark, loneliness, and being unloved. Probably some of your fears are on this list.
The psalmist faced the choice of faith or fear. Psalm 27 expresses a tried faith that triumphed in spite of very real fears. Your personal faith can overcome fear when communion with God dominates your life.
Only a Personal Faith Overcomes Fear
Faith overcomes fear when God is first. You must begin with faith or fear will flourish. The psalmist begins the day with an affirmation of Jehovah God as light, salvation, and safety. Because of the priority of his praise, fear can find no place, Before fear can raise its head, the psalmist affirms that God is the light that dispels darkness and leads the way out. God is rescue in the face of all that chases him and a stronghold in view of all that endangers him. This dependence is exclusively on God. He has given up any dependence on other men or himself.
Faith overcomes fear when faith is personal. The psalmist uses five personal pronouns in verse 1. His faith is intensely personal. He did not overcome fear through understanding theology or remembering only what God had done for Abraham and Moses. God is a triple shield to him only in the personal character of his faith. Faith that is personal overcomes fear.
Faith overcomes fear when we remember past experiences. In the past your faith has overcome fear. Remember? In verse 2 the psalmist remembered that his faith had triumphed over actual threats, not paper tigers or imagined enemies. People with intense personal ill will had tried to devour him with vicious speech. In each instance they had stumbled and fallen. Most of the bad things you thought would happen did not happen, did they?
Fearless Faith Roots in a Single Desire
Are you a "one thing" person? The fearlessness of your faith will depend on the singleness of your desire. The psalmist can look into the future as well as the past and say with confidence that one thing pervades his life—a desire to commune with God. This singleness of heart provides peacefulness of heart.
Fearless faith desires communion with God: "that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (v. 4a). Physically, the psalmist desired to be in God's house. David was often compelled to wander far from the tabernacle where God's physical presence dwelt. He longed to be in the house of God always. This means spiritually that he desired an intimate, inward fellowship with God. Such constant communion renews fearless faith. For us this is both localized and spiritualized. It does mean to be in the place where God's people meet when they meet. It also means that when we are away, we commune with God.
Fearless faith practices the contemplation of God. David desires an extraordinary experience of God. He desires to "behold the beauty of the Lord" (v. 4b, KJV). The phrase suggests a clinging, lingering, entranced gazing at God. How do you gaze at God? The psalmist wanted to see through all of the acts of worship to the reality behind them in the face of God. He earnestly marked everything in the worship service for what it revealed about God Himself. His faith became fearless in the communion and contemplation of God.
Fearless Faith Realizes God's Protection
God habitually hides from enemies or elevates above difficulty those whose faith is personal.
Personal faith gives a hiding place. Everyone has to retreat in order to survive, even the Lord Jesus. The psalmist speaks of hiding in God's house, sanctuary, tabernacle, and tent. These images speak of God as our host and protector. Psalm 23:5 expresses the same reality: "You [spread] a table [for] me in the presence of my enemies."
Personal faith elevates us above the difficulty: "He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies." (27:5-6, NKJV). The psalmist describes a sheltering asylum on a hill where God makes him inaccessible to dangers which are far beneath him. Fearless faith can elevate you above the fray.
This is but an echo of that great shout of Romans 8:37: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." It will either be faith or fear.