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? (Psalm 27:1)
If anyone had a reason to fear, it was David. When he wasn’t at war with neighboring nations, he was being hunted by his own people. His life was almost always at risk. The Psalms are filled with the testimony of the terrors he faced day after day after day.
But even with evil on every side, he could say in Psalm 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?” Of whom shall he be afraid? How about Saul or foreign armies or traitors in his own ranks? The real question should be, of whom shall he not be afraid?
Somehow David was able to stare defeat and death in the face and not fear. He was seeing more than his circumstances — something beyond his circumstances — something that gave him comfort and confidence even when he was likely to lose everything. He saw through the threats to a God who promised to protect and deliver him.
What’s Your Greatest Fear?
To be a believer in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins is to be saved from God’s wrath and destruction. Safety is probably the most popular way of describing what God offers us through the gospel. After all, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
As eternally safe as we are in Jesus, fears in this life still cloud our sense of comfort and confidence in Christ. For sure, they are lesser fears, but that doesn’t make them any less real and tangible and imminent. We really feel them. We might disappoint others or be failed by them. What if something happened to my child or I don’t raise them the right way? We might lose our job and be unable to pay the bills. We’re afraid we’ll lose a spouse or, maybe worse, never have one. We fear death and all the variety of ways it comes. We are surrounded by reasons — real reasons — to fear.
“God’s promises can give us comfort and confidence even when we are likely to lose everything.”
What Should We Fear?
But the logic of Psalm 27:1 suggests that all of these threats are nothing in light of who God is for us. The greatest horror we can ever face is having our sin-filled lives held up before a holy God. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Through faith in Christ, though, that threat has been cast aside forever. For us as believers, the biggest, scariest, most intimidating, longest-lasting terror was turned away and destroyed. The crisis has been averted. The distress has passed. The guilt removed. The execution canceled. The God of the universe satisfied and vindicated. So we no longer need to fear.
An Illustration About Our Fear of Flying
An airline guarantees your protection during travel to a destination. Once you’ve bought your ticket, boarded their plane, and buckled your seatbelt, they’ve assumed responsibility for your safety. Now, a thousand things could still happen to you in flight. You could spill coffee on your pants and stain them. You could get a paper cut reading The Chronicles of Narnia. You could hurt yourself trying to fit in a lavatory. But those threats are nothing compared to being completely safe 30,000 feet in the air and traveling 2,000 miles in three hours safely and relatively unharmed. If we’re tempted to complain about the spilled coffee — and we all are — we’ve lost our wonder at the miracle of the security of air travel.
So it is with every fear in this life, even the most horrifying and excruciating ones. Those who have experienced overwhelming pain or loss might say it’s easy to say it, but hardly true in reality. But the Bible brings the good news that if we truly knew the depths of our desperation in sin and the heights of God’s delivering love for us through the cross, we’d never have to be afraid of anything. That is a solid, secure place to stand when your circumstances feel anything but safe.
Nothing to Fear
Whom shall we fear? No one. God has become our light and salvation. The one who has redeemed us will most certainly rescue and deliver us. What shall we fear? Nothing. We’ve been promised an everlasting life filled with ever-increasing happiness and purified from every sin and consequence of sin. We will endure awful things for a time in this broken world, but it’s only for a time. And we would trade any amount of groaning and suffering here to experience the fullness of what’s waiting for us there with him.
“If we knew the depths of our sin and the heights of God’s love for us, we’d never have to be afraid of anything.”
Desiring God partnered with Shane & Shane’s The Worship Initiative to write short meditations for more than one hundred popular worship songs and hymns. The Worship Initiative is an online platform devoted to training musicians for songwriting and worship-leading.
This meditation was written to accompany the song “Whom Shall I Fear,” which is included in The Worship Initiative, Volume 1. Other meditations from Desiring God include: