Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid Part1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid
First message in a series called “The Overcoming Life.”
What makes you afraid? Darkness? But the Lord is your light. Danger? He is also your salvation. Lack of a basic need? He is your strength. Then why be afraid? Just think about all He does for you. We all deal with fear, and in the time in which we are now living, fear is multiplied over and over. The warning to “fear not” is frequently repeated in Scripture. Fear is described as bondage in Romans 8:15, torment in 1 John 4:18, and a snare in Proverbs 29:25.
Scripture offers a long list of things about which we are not to worry: provision in Matthew 6:25, enemies in Deuteronomy 1:21, other gods in 2 Kings 17:35, death in Psalms 23:4, armies and wars in Psalms 27:3, our reputation in Psalms 71:24, evil days in Psalms 49:5, children in Psalms 127:3, the future in Psalms 139:1–6, sudden terror in Proverbs 3:25 and 26, safety in Matthew 10:28, events beyond our control in Matthew 8:26, health in 2 Corinthians 12:7–10, fearful thoughts in Philippians 4:6 and 7, words of others in1 Peter 3:14, and suffering in Revelations 2:10. Reasons are also given for not fearing: you are His creation according to Isaiah 44:2; He fights for you according to Exodus 14:13; you are loved according to 1 John 4:9; He is your helper according to Hebrews 13:6; and you are more valuable than the sparrows according to Luke 12:7.
But, the reason given most often is God’s presence. Romans 8:15 states, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” You do not need to ask for God’s presence—He is with you; you have His word on it. But, you often need to ask for an awareness of His presence. Isaiah 41:10 and 13, says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”…For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” This awareness is most often prompted by remembering His faithfulness in the past. Just think about everything He has already done for you—He can do it again.
Well, we know what fear is, and we know we shouldn’t fear, but what’s the cure for fear? The only medicine that deals with fear is faith. I would like to suggest three steps for dealing with fear and cultivating your faith:
1. Faith is a choice (vv. 1-3).
2. Faith is cultivated through an intimate relationship with God (vv. 4-6).
3. Faith is strengthened through prayer (vv. 7-12).
Our text is Psalm 27, all 14 verses. I’ll read the psalm from the New King James Bible.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident.
4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell 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.
5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
The first step for dealing with fear is found in verses 1-3. There we are told that—
Faith is a choice. The poet declared his confident faith by acknowledging the Lord as his “light,” “salvation,” and “strength.” God’s presence provides the inner resources that we need to overcome fear when we experience difficult circumstances. The writer expressed his one overwhelming desire in verse 4―”One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell 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.”
God’s love even surpasses the love parents have for their children according to verse 10. “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.” We can commit ourselves to utter dependence on Him, because He cares for us. He loved us before we ever knew Him.
The phrase, “Whom shall I fear” (1) has its New Testament counterpart in the verse, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). The Spirit of God makes the love of God real to us. The Father is for us, the Son is for us, and the Spirit is for us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Is there any reason why we should not be “more than conquerors”?
Psalm 27 is beautiful, but it takes on a special attraction if we think of it as expressing our Lord’s innermost thoughts, during those fateful hours immediately preceding Calvary. For example, when the chief priests, the captains of the temple guard, and the elders came to the Garden of Gethsemane to capture Christ, He said to them, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). But at this very moment, He may have been reassuring Himself with the thought: The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
God was His light as the darkness of the inevitable coming of the cross settled in. God was His salvation, that is, His Deliverer from earthly enemies. God was the stronghold of His life, a refuge in the time of storm. With such protection, He did not need to be afraid of anyone!
When men came to arrest the Lord Jesus, He asked them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” As soon as He said, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. At that moment, Christ could well have been meditating on these words:
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
They pounced on Him like birds of prey, but the glory of His deity as the Great I AM shone through His garb of human flesh, and His captors were knocked to the ground.
John tells us that the gang who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden consisted of a detachment of troops, several officers from the chief priests, and numerous Pharisees. They came with lanterns, torches, and weapons. As He watched them approaching, He could say with perfect composure:
Though an army should encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
In verses 4-6 we are told how our faith grows. And how does it grow? Faith is cultivated through an intimate relationship with God.
Poor Peter tried to defend his Master by cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” His one desire was to dwell with God, and since the pathway to glory led first to the cross, He was prepared to endure its suffering and shame. His language may have been similar to this psalm:
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell 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.
There is something invincible about “one-thing” people. They know what they want and they are determined to get it. Nothing can stand in their way.
Finally, the band of soldiers with their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and tied Him up. To the onlookers, it must have seemed like a lost cause for the Lord Jesus. But at this very moment He may well have been saying:
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me,
He shall set me high upon a rock.
His heart was resting on the protection which God has promised to all those who love Him.
The soldiers took Christ to Caiaphas, the High Priest. It was Caiaphas, who had previously suggested to the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die for the people. Though Christ’s enemies planned to have Him lifted up on a cross between heaven and earth, our Lord Himself was anticipating another kind of lifting up:
And now my head shall be lifted up
Above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
This sounds like a strange kind optimism; for a Man on trial for His life and who knew that the outcome would be His execution! Yet even now He was delighting Himself with the anticipations of glory; for you see, when He left heaven He retained His deity, but not His glory. He was referring to His glory when He said to Caiaphas, “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64)?