Have you ever been afraid? Fear is a normal human emotion when faced by things we don't understand or by things that appear to threaten us. But fear can also be provoked by our imagination. We can fear sounds and shadows when there is nothing of substance. We can fear the "maybe's" and possibilities of life. We can fear our tomorrows causing us to be paralyzed in our today. This is what I sense David talking about in Psalm 23:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (v. 4)
It is a shadow, a thing of no substance, a threat with no teeth. Actually, all fear is like that for a Christian. Fear has no teeth for us and is only the shadow of things that would like to harm us if it could but it can't because Jesus is with us. That is why David continued:
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me. (v. 4)
What can separate us from the love of Jesus? Absolutely nothing. When we turn to him in all situations we find comfort, especially as we turn to his Word. Shadows disappear in the light of his presence and Word:
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (v. 4)
If fear is paralyzing and overwhelming us it is because we are not relying on Jesus for strength and comfort. Fear may be a natural human reaction but we are no longer controlled by our emotions; we are a new creation, filled by the Holy Spirit, walking in the presence of our God.
We can find an example of someone who understood this long before Jesus gave us the Spirit. King Jehoshaphat was an awesome king and had developed a strong relationship with the Lord. News had suddenly come to him about a combined army that was coming to destroy Jerusalem. This army was massive and did not appear to be a "shadow" threat but something of real substance. Maybe under any other king Jerusalem would have been destroyed but Jehoshaphat knew Yahweh and he knew the promises. In other words, he knew the Word. He reminded Yahweh of a few things (2 Chronicles 20):
First, that Yahweh was the ruler over all kingdoms and that no one could come against him.
Second, that Yahweh had given them this land.
Third, that Yahweh had made a promise that if at any time they faced trouble they could pray in the temple and he would rescue them.
Then Jehoshaphat prayed this prayer that has always remained with me from the first I read it:
O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (v. 12)
We don't know what to do but our eyes are on you. Of course the Lord is going to respond to such a man of the Word, to a man of this kind of faith, a man who leans on the Lord for his hope and strength. Yahweh responded and told them they would not have to fight, that he would fight for them. He told them to get dressed for war, in their armour, swords and bows, and then watch him deliver them from their enemies.
One of the most incredible parts of all of this was the next day, as they marched out to face this overwhelming enemy, they went out singing. They faced their enemy with praise and worship. Praise and worship was not their salvation but was their heart response to the promise of salvation by the grace of Yahweh.
My friends we have nothing to fear but if we do feel fear then we need to run into the presence of our God. We are always in his presence but if you are feeling fear it is because you have forgotten that Jesus is the ruler over every nation, over every circumstance and nothing can come against him. You have forgotten that what you have received has come from his hand, and you have been told to stand your ground. You have forgotten his promise that whatever you need you can ask for in his name and Father will give it to you. Pray that prayer, "Jesus, I don't know what to do but my eyes are on you" and fear will flee from you as he answers you swiftly. Your fear will be replaced with praise and worship.
You cannot save yourself. Whether by many or by few, salvation belongs to the Lord. You belong to him and he has given you a ton of promises to encourage you. Learn the Word, walk in his presence and you will discover that there is no substance to the things that provoke fear in the children of Yahweh. Allow his "rod and staff" to comfort you.