Freedom from Fear
(H) (A psalm) of David. (1) Yahweh (is) my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Yahweh (is) the stronghold of my life. Whom shall I dread? (2) When evildoers approach me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and enemies, they stumble and fall. (3) Even though an army should encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Even though war should rise against me, in this will I trust. (4) One thing have I asked of Yahweh that I will pursue: to dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of Yahweh, to seek (him) in his temple, (5) for he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble. He will conceal me under the cover of his tabernacle. He will lift me high upon a rock. (6) And now my head will be lifted high above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifice of joy. I will sing and make music (in praise of) Yahweh.
The repetitions and synonyms in this segment clearly set forth its message. David opens with two parallel questions: “Whom shall I fear?” and “Whom shall I dread?” (vs. 1). “Fear” is repeated in the third verse. In these same three verses, David employs five terms to describe what should make any of us fear: “evildoers...adversaries...enemies...an army...war” (vss. 1-3). Note that David repeats “enemies” for emphasis (vs. 6).
In the second part of the segment, David uses several terms to describe Yahweh’s dwelling place where he can find refuge from his fears: the “house of Yahweh” (vs. 4), “his temple” (vs. 4), “his shelter” (vs. 5), and “his tabernacle” (found twice in vss. 5 & 6). In Yahweh’s presence, those who delight in Yahweh are protected from all adversity.
I. By trusting in Yahweh, I overcome fear of my enemies. (1-3)
II. By sheltering in Yahweh’s presence, I triumph over my foes. (4-6)
Freedom from the fear of my foes is found in Yahweh’s presence.
The word “carefree” often carries a negative connotation of irresponsibility. Even more, the word “careless” usually describes someone who is foolish and negligent. However, if we were to limit the meaning of these words to describe someone who is “free of care or worry,” we could then use them quite positively. The Apostle Peter tells us, “Cast all your anxiety (cares) upon him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). If we as believers were to take this admonition to heart, we would be carefree and even careless in the best sense, freed from all our cares. This state of being carefree is what David describes in the opening half of this psalm. When he enters into Yahweh’s dwelling place, he leaves all his fears outside. No enemy will threaten him, no adversary can touch him as long as he remains in the place of refuge. God’s presence assures him that he is truly secure.
All of us yearn for such a place where every burden is removed and where we can be free of all our concerns and worries. Cleland McAfee wrote the words to a hymn in 1903 that over a century later still provides us with encouragement: “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God, / a place where fear cannot molest near to the heart of God; / O Jesus, blest redeemer, sent from the heart of God, / hold us who wait before thee near to the heart of God.” Let us seek to enter that place of quiet rest close to God’s heart as we pray today.