Psalm 27: Good news about our fears

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“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

By Dennis Fast

In the early days of my ministry an elderly gentleman taught me to love Psalm 27. Every time I called for a Scripture at our Prayer and Bible Study he offered Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”

I don’t recall Marvin ever quoting another Scripture, and while that frustrated me at the time, I now turn to Psalm 27 often. I have memorized it and meditate on it frequently when I lie down, rise up or lay awake during the night.

Well-known columnist Ann Landers learned from thousands of requests for advice that the #1 problem people face is fear. Google “phobias” and check out A List From A to Z. You’ll be amazed at the fears that plague people. If you have a phobia it’s not funny; if you don’t, it may be difficult to understand those who do. There’s even one called phobophobia—the fear of fear!

In Psalm 27 I’m drawn to the “bookends” that frame our hope in God’s goodness. It opens with great thoughts about God (vv. 1-2) and closes with more confidence in God’s willingness to meet us in life’s dilemmas (vs. 13-14). Woven between those ideas are multiple reasons for fear and concern (vv. 3-12).

Amazingly this psalm offers two very different moods. In verses 1-6 David exudes confidence in God’s great care—he felt untouchable and invincible with God by his side. But in verses 7-14 the tone shifts dramatically as David cries out for God’s help, pleading to not be forsaken. Obviously David faced spiritual battles as well as the physical ones described in 1 and 2 Samuel.

We relate to Psalm 27 because we know those feelings—the ups and downs of walking in this world; the forward and backward steps of walking with God. Sometimes we are hesitant to put words to our fears or express our feelings when God seems more distant. Not the psalmists. They let it all out.

When I shared Psalm 27 with our congregation recently it resonated with many. As we identified our fears, a range of topics immediately surfaced. If we try to name our fears we don’t have far to look. Watch the news, read your email, sit by the phone and wait for a child to call or go to work and face an unreasonable boss. Wherever we turn there is cause for fear.

Psalm 27 offers good news regarding our fears. Certainly there is a time to look for professional help—the source of some fears needs to be identified, prayed through and prayed out. But I am convinced that Psalm 27, and others like it, can lead us to a place where we rise above our fears. It points us to God, our great source of confidence.

Dennis Fast is lead pastor at Reedley (Calif.) MB Church.

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