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
I hate to do the bills.
I know I’m not alone in this. Can I get an “AMEN!”? I think we all feel this way, but I’ve realized recently that I hate to do the bills not because it’s tedious or because I’m disorganized, or because of that inevitable lengthy phone call. No, I hate doing the bills because they give me anxiety…the whole time. And when I talk to my husband, Jason, after or during this time, I’m always snappy with him. Recently, he called me out for this, and in my defense I blurted out, “I’m just always afraid we won’t have enough money.” Wait, what did I just say? This was actually news to me! I couldn’t have told you this was how I felt, but there it was. And, there it is. I’m afraid we won’t have enough money. But here’s the crazy thing, God has always provided, putting us through seminary (twice!), giving us every possible thing we needed even when we were living on a youth pastor’s salary with a million kids: every date night, every vacation, every gallon of milk, every car, every hospital bill, it’s all been covered with some to spare. And yet, I have this fear.
Now that it’s out there in plain view, I’m working on it.
Truly. But let me tell you it might take a minute for me to get to a better place. I paid bills just yesterday, and that fear was still there, despite the truth of God’s constant providence. I tell you this because I tend to think that I’m not a generally fearful person. But when push comes to shove, I have real and deep fears. And at the bottom, I think everyone does, at least in some small way. This is where our verse comes in. It’s for our every fear, it’s for me, it’s for you, and it is so good. Let’s read it again.
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
Do you see what our verse is telling us? Because of who God is (my light, my salvation, and my stronghold), I don’t have any reason to fear. And neither do you. And neither did David, who penned these words thousands of years ago. In our one simple verse, David models a very significant method of fighting our fears. He shows us how filtering our fears through God’s character reminds our hearts that we truly don’t have anything to be afraid of. Let’s look at the specific truths that David tells himself to fight his fears.
God is my light.
If you’ve ever read David’s story, it is long and winding, up and down, beautiful and sordid, bright and dark. Through it all, David has a lot to fear: foreign enemies, wild animals, a towering giant, his boss (the king!) who wants him dead, his friends, his own family, and even himself and his own passions. There are real dark times when his enemies threaten him from every possible angle. And Psalm 27 seems to be written during one such time. In that darkness, when everything is pressing in, David says this, “The LORD is my light!” David reminds himself that God is his light, because this is the very attribute of God that he needs to battle his particular fears. In the midst of his dark situation, God himself is his shining hope. When there seems to be no safe path, God illuminates the next right step. In the middle of the real and actual darkness of night, with enemies on the prowl, David reminds his heart that God overcomes every darkness with his light. Because God is David’s light, he can say with confidence, “Whom shall I fear?” And we can say this too. In our dark situations, we can rely on God to give us hope, direction, and victory in Jesus.
God is my salvation.
David needs God to save him from real, live enemies who are out to get him. This is a fearful thing, but into his fears, David reminds himself that God is his salvation. Directly following our verse, he says, “When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall” (Psalm 27:2). He trusts that God will deliver him from enemies. As we read on in this Psalm though, we see that David trusts God for more than mere physical salvation—David trusts God for an even greater rescue—his personal, eternal salvation. At the end of his prayer, he says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). As we’ve seen, David faced the constant threat of death. And death will eventually come for him. Yet, David is confident of this: he will one day dwell in the land of the living—a place without death where God himself lives—this is where David longed to be and where even now David is. So he could say, “Whom shall I fear?” And for all who call God “my salvation” like David, we too have nothing to fear—not even death itself. (Read more about what it would look like to make God your salvation here.)
God is my stronghold.
David knows full well the life-and-death significance of a stronghold. And in the midst of the real physical threat he currently faces, he says, “The LORD is the stronghold of my life.” Of all the things he says about God, I love this statement most of all. I love that he doesn’t ask God to give him a strong military position. Nope. He tells God he IS his stronghold. This is what David means by that: God, you are safe, you are strong, and you will protect those who run to you for help. David knows this because again and again he has tested it out and found it to be true. God has hidden him in plain sight, called away his enemy at the last minute, given him victory against all odds. God is not just willing to save, he is able, because he is God. And he doesn’t just save his people out of the battle, he calls them into his safe place. This is what David ultimately desires, to be with God in that safe place. It’s why he says later, “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” (Psalm 27:4). Yes and AMEN! This is the goal, the object, the thing we most desperately need, and the very thing that God himself wants for us—to be with him, dwelling in his safe home. And when we filter our fear through that reality, we can say with David, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”
So let’s look back at my fear—the fear of not having enough.
Let’s run my fear through the filter of who God is. If God is light, then nothing is dark to him. He sees the whole of my life and nothing is ever a surprise to him. There is no unforeseen huge expenditure that will catch him unawares. What am I so afraid of? And if God is my salvation, then he can rescue me out of any tight financial spot. Infinitely more than that, I will one day dwell with him in his forever, abundant goodness. What am I so afraid of? And finally, if God is my stronghold, then I am safe. Period. I can always run to him with my every fear and find security in his more than capable arms. What am I so afraid of? Nothing. In light of who God is, I have nothing to be afraid of. And when my fears inevitably crop back up, I will keep on fighting them (all of them) with the truths of who my God is.
What about you? What are you so afraid of?
Let me encourage you to really give some thought to your answer. You may know immediately, or you may be less self-aware (like me). If you can’t think of something, ask the Spirit to reveal your fears, ask someone close to you what they think you fear, or consider what wakes you up in the night, or what apps you go to on your phone regularly. Once you discover your fears, spend some time filtering them through this verse, just like I just did with mine, so that every time you recite this verse, you're fighting your own specific fears with truth about our good God.