Psalm 34

Ps34-iPhone
I read Psalm 34 yesterday, today I was to read Psalm 35…which was also good, but let’s just say that I re-read Psalm 34.  I know…my fellow OCD brethren are twitching right now…I didn’t stick to the plan.  Just another theological tension point – God’s plans vs. my OCD.

I will bless the LORD at all times;  (All? Surely not ‘all times’…)
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (not grumbling?)
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; (not boasting in me?)
let the humble hear and be glad. (not the proud?)
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me (actively seeking…)
and delivered me from all my fears. (Put off our fears…)
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. (Put on fear of God)
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, (More fearing of God)
for those who fear him have no lack! (and yet more fearing of God…)
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (God doesn’t withhold good..Ps 84:11)
(Psalm 34:1-10 ESV)

The writers of Psalms didn’t have a bold font like I do, so when they want to emphasize something – they repeat is.  ‘Fear’ is repeated a lot in this passage – first our fears, and we all have them.  Who delivers them?  God.

Then note how much the ‘fear’ of God is repeated.  To fear God means to revere, honor him, hold him above everything else in your life.  Those who do this well, will most likely see their own fears (self-oriented) dissipate in view of the greatness of our God.  We all fear, don’t let our feelings inform us — inform your feelings from the Word of God.  (For more on feelings, see a previous post.) Bottom line:  Don’t fear – fear God.

This is a turning, repenting – a putting off/renewing/putting on – just like our passage says in v14:

Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
(Psalm 34:14 ESV)

 

Do Not Fear

black-bear-1I love it when the readings in various parts of the Bible display common themes. In Psalm 27, we read several references to not fearing.

27:1 – “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

27:3 – “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.”

Then the reading in Mark 6:45-52 with Jesus walking on the water, the disciples saw that and were terrified and what does Jesus say to them in v50? Yup – “Do not be afraid.

There is part of fear that is a natural reaction to keep us from danger.  If I go out to the woodpile in the darkness and run into an 800lb mama bear and her cubs and she stands up on her hind legs and growls at me, yeah…I’m afraid. And that’s normal – there is danger.

Feelings are flags that need to be investigated as to why they are there – why am I feeling afraid?  Two things to consider:

(1) Fear itself is not necessarily sinful, we need to investigate the feelings flag. It is the “fear-spiral” that is sinful.  Do you allow your fears to run unchecked and ending in panic?  (Adams, CCM)

(2) What is important is to whom we turn to when we are afraid (Thanks Ed Welch in “Running Scared”)

Fear heads the list of a host of many “disorders” that are diagnosed today – worry, anxiety, panic, OCD, Squirphobia (fear of Squirrels) – the list goes on and on and gets longer every year.  Fear, anxiety, and worry control so many lives.  No wonder Jesus says “Do not fear” so many times.

Our courage needs to be found in our God – who is in control of all – we should say like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”  Fear essentially is a lack of faith in who God is, at that moment he is still there on his throne.  Let us turn to God when we fear, not turn inward to ourselves.

Fear response – make more idols?

In Isaiah 41 we read God reminding Israel of his position as sovereign creator. This is meant to reassure them as they are fearful. What do they do when fearful? Well, verse 7 tells us they literally construct more idols, instead of turning in comfort to the God who made them and is in control of everything.

Sound familiar? What do we do when we are faced with anxiety and fear? Do we turn immediately to God or to something else? Hmmm. What idols are our “go to” idols?

God reminds them again in verse 10 who is with them:
“Fear not for I AM with you, be not dismayed for I AM your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with MY righteous right hand.”

God is to be our strength, our help, our righteousness in Jesus. “I AM” – reminds us of YAHWEH, the LORD, the almighty eternally existing, sovereign, Creator God of all – that God, who lacks nothing, loves us and has offered us reconciliation in Jesus.

Why then fear? Why then turning to idols when you have the great I AM?