Battling Fear with Confidence in God
Topic: Fear Passage: Psalm 27, Psalm 56:3–56:4, 2 Timothy 1:7
Summer in the Psalms
Grace Community Church
August 15, 2021
Battling Fear with Confidence in God
Let’s turn together to Psalm 27. As I was prayed about the message this week, I couldn’t shake the sense that He had more to say about placing our confidence in Him. Last week we looked at the journey from complaint (or lament) to confidence, this week I want us to consider how we can battle fear by growing our confidence in God. Psalm 27 – a psalm written by David - is a good psalm for that.
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?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3
David begins Psalm 27 talking about fear. David had real enemies who were always looking for a way to take him down so it’s pretty natural that fear would be something David had to deal with. Fear is our response to danger. When danger is real, a certain degree of fear is a good thing. If an angry Grizzly is charging you, it’s probably not such a bad idea to feel a little fear. The problem is, fear isn’t content to sound an alarm only when our lives really are in mortal danger. If we let it, fear will try to take over every area of our lives, sounding the wrong alarms at all the wrong times.
Consider phobias. A phobia is an irrational fear of something poses no real danger and there are hundreds of phobias that people suffer from. From fear of tight spaces (claustrophobia) to fear of beards (pogonophobia), from galeophobia – the fear of sharks to bananaphobia - fear of bananas. You name it, someone fears it. Some phobias may seem silly to those who don’t suffer from it, but when you have a phobia, it is a very real issue in your life. The alarm going off is very real and very loud, even if it’s irrational.
Insecurity is another very real form of fear. Insecurity is a fear of what people think about us (what if I say something that makes me look stupid? What if people don’t like me?) Insecurity is a constant alarm that says I don’t measure up and that at any moment I may do or say something that isn’t acceptable to others. Worry is fear of the future, dread is worry on steroids: a foreboding fear of the unknown and the future, the fear that something terrifying is going to happen.
Panic attacks can hit us with paralyzing fear that may not even be attached to anything in particular. Breathing becomes shallow, heart rate goes up, icy fear grips our heart –
and we don’t even know why. Fear is sounding a loud alarm, but we don’t know what the alarm is meant to tell us.
Fear is an alarm, warning us of danger. But when fear grips too much of our lives, it’s constantly setting off alarms, constantly trying to be the biggest voice in our lives, constantly telling us to run away from things we maybe should be running towards.
If you battle with fear, I’m going to say something you probably already know. Fear gums up the works.
In the name of making life better, fear makes life harder. Fear says, “listen to me or your life will go bad!” and then it makes our lives go bad. God doesn’t mean for us to live in fear. We were not built for fear. God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
So how can Psalm 27 help us in our battle against fear? Psalm 27 is so confident and David seems so fearless, we may find it hard to relate to him. We could interpret the opening verses as saying no fear here. He says that when the wicked come against him, even if an army assembled against him, he would feel no fear. If I knew wicked, powerful people had it in for me, I’d feel fear. It’s hard for us to relate to David’s fearlessness.
But I don’t think that’s the whole story and I don’t think this psalm is saying David didn’t struggle with fear. Listen to David’s confession in Psalm 56:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.4 In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.What can mere mortals do to me? Ps. 56:3-4
There are echoes of Psalm 27 in Psalm 56, but something happens between verse 3 – “When I am afraid…” and verse 4 – “I…am not afraid…”? How does David go from I am afraid to I am not afraid? The answer is David battles fear with confidence in God. And I think that’s what we’re seeing in Psalm 27 too. The reason he writes about fear so much in the opening verses isn’t because David had no fear, but because David knew what it was to fear, and he also knew how to conquer it.
David battles fear with confidence in God. “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?” The point isn’t fearlessness, it’s confidence - in God! If God is protecting me, what can puny little man do to me? As Rom. 8 puts it, if God is for us, who can be against us?
The Lord is our light: we don’t need to fear the darkness of evil or the unknown because the Lord is our light. The future is dark to us in the sense we don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s light to us because we know the Lord will light it up as we go! He will direct our path and guide our steps so we don’t stumble. The Lord is our salvation: salvation is rescue from danger and we know the greatest danger Jesus rescued us from is the eternal danger of God’s judgment, and he rescued us for eternal life in His presence. But salvation in the Bible isn’t limited to our eternal salvation. The Lord also rescues us from the many dangers life can hold. The Lord rescues us from the brokenness that sin has inflicted on us. When Jesus healed a sick person or delivered a demon possessed person, he would often say their faith (confidence in God) had saved them. Jesus rescues us from our fears!
The Lord is the stronghold of my life: to me, this is such a beautiful picture. My life, from beginning to end, is safe in Christ. He is the stronghold of my life. Fear says we live in a dangerous world but when we trust in Christ, we live in a safe place, the Lord Himself.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of
my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Ps. 27:4
One thing David says. One thing. One thing I ask, one thing I seek. My life comes down to one thing. My priorities come to one thing. My treasure comes to one thing. My confidence comes to one thing. To be in the presence of God and gaze on His beauty all the days of my life.
It reminds me of what Jesus told Martha when she was anxious about getting everything just right when Jesus came to her house, and her sister Mary wasn’t helping, she was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Jesus said, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary. One thing.
Someone might say, David might have had the time to sit quietly all day just meditating on the Lord, but I’ve got a life to live, schedules to juggle, demands to meet! I can’t just gaze at the Lord all day long (whatever that means)! David isn’t talking about checking out and living a monastic lifestyle. David was a warrior, a leader of leaders, a king. He conquered lands, he built cities, he was a man of action. But somehow David was able to do all these things and still maintain a single focus. One thing.
When teenager David did what no one else in Israel had the guts to do and fight Goliath, what was it that helped him replace fear with courage? One thing: Goliath, you come against me with sword and spear and javelin but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty! Confidence. One thing!
Years later, when King Saul was out to kill him, and he was living life on the run, an opportunity came where David had the chance to kill Saul, the chance to take out the man who was trying to take him out, but David refused to do it. David’s gaze wasn’t fixed on, “how do I get rid of the thing I fear?” His gaze was on the Lord: what does God want from me in this situation? One thing.
One thing. To know the Lord and gaze on His beauty. When we make Jesus the one thing, the treasure, the priority, the confidence of our lives, all the other things in our life don’t go away, they get put in their proper place. Their proper order. God alone has the mass to hold all the other things of life in proper gravitational orbit. When we love Jesus first, we’ll love our spouse better, our children better, our friends better. And confidence in God will overcome our fears. We battle fear with confidence in God.
Sometimes David had to battle his way from fear to confidence. When I am afraid I will put my trust in you, God. And then I’m not afraid. He battled fear with confidence in God. So can we.
Like Martha, fear often scatters our minds – we become anxious and troubled about many things. Fear becomes a moving target. What we fear today may not be what we fear tomorrow. If you, like Martha, are anxious and troubled about many things then you know that fear compels you to try to “fix” whatever worries you, only to find as soon as those things are “fixed”, something new is worrying you.
Other times, fear focuses us on one thing, but it’s the wrong one thing. I think insecurity is that kind of fear. Although we might feel insecure about many things, and around different people, at its core insecurity focuses us on ourselves. It’s self-consciousness.
I remember years ago singing in a wedding and I was nervous and really didn’t want to mess up, but I
got so focused on not messing up that I messed up. To my embarrassment my voice wobbled and croaked the first few words before going on to sing the rest of the song ok. What happened after that is I got so focused on myself messing up first words, that it crept into first words not only when I was singing, but when I was first meeting someone, or first saying something in a meeting. Took me years to battle and overcome that insecurity. The situations that emerged from that fear were numerous, but the focus was one thing, the wrong thing: me.
One thing. Jesus. Our great God. When we live with our gaze fixed on Jesus, fear begins to melt away. When we see God’s ferocious love for us, we won’t fear being abandoned. Perfect love casts out fear. When we see God’s infinite power we won’t fear someone or something stronger ruining our lives. The Lord is my light, my salvation, and my stronghold – who in the world need I fear?
Confidence in God, His power, His love, His faithfulness, His promises, His beauty, it’s what God created us for. Confidence in God is what we were built for, it’s our native language, fear is unnatural to us.
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. Dr. E. Stanley Jones
We might get used to living life with sand clogging up the machinery but it’s not our native land. Life grinds hard when fear is the focus of our mind and heart. We live better when we live by faith and confidence in our awesome God!
David cleans out the sand clogging his life in verse 13:
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
David replaces fear of bad with confidence that the story of his life will be written by the goodness of God and will be a part of the metanarrative of goodness that God wrote when He sent His Son Jesus to save us.
Then David talks to you and me in verse 14:
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
Make the Lord your confidence. Whatever is going on in your life story, look for what God’s doing, be strong, and take heart and again, wait for the Lord.
How do we battle fear? Not by focusing on fear, but by focusing on our awesome God. The goal isn’t fearlessness, the goal is confidence in God. God-confidence. Then we can say, of whom, and of what, shall I be afraid?
If fear is a major battle in your life, ask God to help you take your eyes off your fear, off yourself, and help you to see Him as He is. Awesome, powerful, faithful, loving, good, and holding your life in His strong hands. Be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.