Psalm 46: Fear Not
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.