Psalm 46: Fear Not

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Yellow Spring Flowers | Mercer Botanical Garden | March 2023

Don’t be afraid. This word of encouragement (see how “courage” is central to that word!), is an invitation to God’s people to keep things in perspective – no matter what may be happening around them.

An angel appears to Zechariah in the temple, and offers the assurance, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 1:13)

An angel appears to Mary and greets her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled by this greeting. She didn’t know what it actually meant. The angel then encourages her, “Do not be afraid…” (Luke 1:28-30)

The angels appear to the shepherds on that first Christmas night. Their greeting: “Fear not…” (Luke 2:10)

The women discover an angel at the empty tomb on the first Easter. His greeting, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 28:5)

Three times in Matthew’s gospel, three times in Luke, and 30 times in the Old Testament the phrase, “Do not be afraid,” is found. Whether to Abraham, Joshua, Elijah, David, or Mary, Joseph, or the women at the tomb God’s command is also an invitation: Do not be afraid. 

Jesus himself says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) We should fear and love God… says Martin Luther as he explains the Commandments.

Somehow we are to fear God, yet be encouraged by his protective power in the face of trouble. We are to see him as a raging fire, the supreme King of kings, and Lord of lords, and yet want to be with him, in his presence to experience his help and protection in the face of earthquake, fire, and storm.

I’m wondering whether I need to lean more on the fear of God, or the protective blessing of his presence. There are days when I don’t do something evil out of fear of God. And there are days, sadly, when fear of the world’s powers influences me more that it should.

Seems I need both a reminder of God’s fear-worthiness as well as the encouragement to draw near to him when the world’s dangers threaten. Whether it’s direct threats of violence and natural disaster, or the subtle influences of peer pressure or temptation, I need God’s help and a reminder that he is worthy of healthy and godly fear. That may be a secondary motivation to faithfulness, but it is still a good one. The greatest motivation is love and faith itself that recognizes and believes in the ultimate goodness of God.

Because of that goodness, we need never fear when we are in his protective and powerful care.

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