The Fear That Ends All Fear

frightened girl

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into Psalm 34:4, 7

How can fear do away with fear?? It’s a matter of what you mean by “fear.” This song by David, the fugitive, includes two very different kinds of fear:

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears. . . . 
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them (Psalm 34:4, 7 NIV).

The word “fears” in verse 4 comes from a Hebrew word (megowrah) that can mean the feeling of fear or can mean a situation that is fearful.* It’s what we normally mean when we say “fear.” It’s the kind of fear David experienced just before he wrote this psalm.

But David’s fears ended because the Lord delivered, or rescued, him. In fact, his angel had been camping around David all along, ready to deliver him from any danger that cropped up. How did David rate 24/7 angelic protection? Because he feared the Lord (verse 7).

Awed boyHuh! It doesn’t seem as if a person would be afraid of a God who is so gracious and caring. Well, this word “fear” isn’t what we usually think of as fear. It comes from a Hebrew word (yare’) which means to stand in awe of, be awed, to fear, reverence, honor, respect.* 

Perhaps you have always vaguely understood that “the fear of the Lord” meant awe and respect for Him. But you may still have trouble seeing how fear fits into that equation.

Years ago, I stumbled upon my first experience of it. Life was a blur of pain because of a betrayal, and I needed to talk to someone. I had all kinds of choices, but I had a deep sense I had better speak with my pastor only. I recognized that if I did not stick to the Lord’s way of behaving, things would not turn out well for me. Because I respected His wisdom above all others, I feared to depart from His ways.

Shortly after that, I encountered this respect and fear again. I was president of a local teachers’ association, and we were deep into rocky negotiations with the school board. The Lord made it clear that he expected me to refrain from criticizing or accusing the superintendent and school board members–and that, if I did that, he would help us gain what we truly needed. It was rather counterintuitive for me, but–who can refuse God, especially when he cares enough to intervene personally in your life?

One night, my vice president called to tell me of the talk going around the community concerning us teachers. I went to the basement to pray. I asked for some things–like wisdom and protection–but mostly I marveled at how sure I was that everything was going to be alright. That’s when I found out it’s true–if you fear the Lord and obey him, that puts an end to all other fears.

________

*Based on definitions from the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, which is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.”

 

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The 5 W’s & H in Bible Study

Man Scratching Head

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into the Bible

Journalists, move over. The 5 W’s and H work as amazingly in bible study as they do in newspaper reporting–actually more so.

Journalists find out the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of events. They can then give a thorough report for their readers. Bible students ask those same questions about a passage of Scripture–for a different reason. They are not just pin-pointing information about the Bible to report to others. They are breaking down scriptures so that the meaning can shine forth.

FOR EXAMPLE, here are some rich insights from Psalm 5.

Psa. 5:3

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

When I read this verse, I made up some Who? What? . . .  questions. The one that helped me see something helpful was HOW did David pray? 

That question made me notice that David

  1. laid his requests before the Lord
  2. spent his waiting time expecting 

Now I have asked the Lord for something and then . . . wondered how long I would have to wait. It appears that David was more active. He looked forward to God’s answer. He probably told people it was coming. No doubt he thanked God in advance for taking care of him. (He did that often in the Psalms.) In short, he kept himself happy and full of faith by actively expecting, instead of passively watching the days go by.

I have started actively expecting. Know what? The time passes joyfully, and my faith grows and grows.

HERE ARE A COUPLE OTHER INSIGHTS from verses 11 and 12:

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

When I first read these verses, about all I got from them was a glad feeling. Then I started asking questions.

WHAT are some things David felt he could expect, if he asked for them? 

  1. joy (and “be glad” and “rejoice”)
  2. protection
  3. blessing
  4. favor

Cool! I thought. Great stuff.

Then I asked another question and found out how to receive these good things.

WHO will receive these blessings? Those who

  1. take refuge in God
  2. love his name
  3. are righteous

. . . Made me realize that David did not take a random or half-hearted approach to God. He had a radical relationship with him. Radical and appealing. I also realized that his closeness to God was the reason he prayed so confidently.

 I can’t wait for you to dig into scriptures with the 5 W’s & H!

Bet the Bible will come to life for you.