Reading: Psalm 27:1-3
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?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
When my enemies and foes attack me,
They will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war break out against me
Even then will I be confident (NIV).*
Are you afraid of the dark? That may seem like a rather empty-headed question? Most adults have overcome their fear of the dark a long time ago, back in the dark ages of childhood. But have you really overcome your fear of dark places?
I would like to suggest we have not overcome that most basic of fears. We have only learned to mask our fears and conveniently avoid those dark unknown recesses. Our fear of the dark is at its core a fear of the unknown. Hidden out there in the dark unknown regions is a whole battalion of hidden risks—the lurking boogeymen—who keep us close to home, who keep us on the well-beaten path, the well-marked path, a path of no-risk and least-resistance. How often do you dare to go where others have never gone? Are you still certain you are not afraid of the dark?
In this psalm, David, the fearless warrior, reveals the secret to his victorious life—a life spent overcoming insurmountable obstacles. With reckless confidence this insignificant, no-rank shepherd boy took on the Goliaths of his time, and he rose to each and every challenge, time after time throughout his storied career.
So then, what was the secret to David’s success? It resides in his overwhelming confidence in the LORD. Surely, common sense would dictate a wet-behind-the-ears shepherd boy is no match for an experienced warrior, such as the towering Goliath. But David exudes confidence: 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?
David was not afraid of the dark, or the giant, or the Philistine army arrayed against him. He feared only the LORD. The LORD was his light in a dark place. The LORD was his salvation in every battle and his deliverance in every hostile situation. David feared the LORD. He bowed in reverential awe before Him. He allied himself with the LORD his Maker. That’s an unbeatable combination.
Response: Lord Jesus, help me to truly walk in confident faith. I ally myself with you. You are my light and my salvation. Help me now to face my day and my future with confidence that comes from you, my Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: How often do you take a plunge into the unknown? Is God asking you to take a step of faith?
* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICAVolume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.
I will praise the LORD!
It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge,
to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands
bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 147:8-12
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Extol the LORD, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion (NIV).*
I grew up on a farm on the prairies. During the hot summer it was not unusual for rain to be in short supply, but rain is essential for growing field crops of any kind.
As a child one of my favorite garden projects was growing watermelons. Two key ingredients are needed if you want to grow watermelons: lots of direct sunlight and a plentiful supply of water. I could count on the sunlight pouring down from the sky, but rain was far less dependable. There may be afternoon or evening thundershowers, but they were often of the hit and miss variety. All too often on the thundershower scoreboard, we scored a miss. In such conditions daily watering was essential.
Each of my watermelon plants could count on a daily supply of a gallon of water. Barring a major downpour, I was their supplier. I brought my plants pails of water from the well. By September all the hard work of summer began to pay off. The garden-grown watermelons were delicious and juicy beyond compare.
Today’s reading from Psalm 147 reminds us that the LORD is our supplier. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
The LORD is the ultimate supplier of all things, rain and sunshine and life itself. All He asks is that we fear Him—honor Him with the respect He deserves. The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. What a comforting thought! The LORD delights in me. Wow!
I need a daily supplier. I need a supply of daily bread—those necessary things that sustain life. But beyond that, I also need less tangible things like love, encouragement and peace of mind. Sometimes those things fall from the sky. But there are other times when I need to go to the well—the well of my salvation. There is a supply of grace stored up there for me to access. “The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:2b-3).
Response: LORD God, I am thankful that you are my supplier. You provide for all my needs and many of my desires as well. Your grace is abundant. You are my salvation and source of joy. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a steady supplier? Do you have access to the well of salvation?
* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA
Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here. Volume III is coming soon to complete the set.
Today’s quote and prayer from the Psalms
I thank you for every blessing
that comes from fearing you and living uprightly.
When my way seems dark,
shine your light on me.
Lead me forward in the way of Christ.
Reading: Psalm 112
Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing (NIV).*
Is there a blessing to be had for those who fear the LORD? Absolutely yes, according to Psalm 112! When we put the LORD first in our lives and honor Him in all we say and do, He takes note. Blessings come from the LORD. Those blessings can come in various forms.
The psalmist begins by speaking of the blessing that flows to our children. A home where the love of God reigns is blessed indeed. Children grow up in a secure environment with loving role models and that sets the stage for their advancement as adults in society. The psalmist asserts the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Are you finding great delight in the LORD’s commands? There are positive consequences for that. You may be blessed with wealth and riches as a result. Fearing God brings a reward, but that reward must be used wisely in the service of God and others. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
But this psalm does not promise us a trouble-free life. Though bad news may come, those who fear God will trust in Him and overcome adversity. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Response: Father God, I thank you for every blessing that comes from fearing you and living uprightly. When my way seems dark, shine your light on me. Lead me forward in the way of Christ. Amen.
Your Turn: In what ways have you experienced God’s blessing? Which blessings do you value most?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 111
Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever (NIV).*
If the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, what is the end point or objective of this inducement to wisdom? I have often heard it argued that the fear of the LORD, which is frequently extolled in the Old Testament, has little to do with the common meaning for fear. We are to reverence or be in awe of the LORD, not be afraid of Him. To an extent this is true; however, I suspect we often push this fearless approach to God too far. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is not toothless. He has claws.
A healthy dose of godly fear can prevent a massive case of sin enslavement and heartache.
The reaction of God’s people when the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai is well worth noting. When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 22:18-19).
The very human fear expressed in this Exodus passage went well beyond a sense of awe and wonder. This was knee-buckling, heart-racing fear—the kind of fear that makes us dread doing anything that might offend this all-knowing, all-seeing, holy God. That’s a healthy fear—a fear that helps us to live and walk straight. Why would God want to induce this kind of fear?
God wants us to fear Him because He loves us. He wants to spare us from the agony of the terrible consequences of sin. A healthy fear of God leads us to an awe-induced love and respect for Him. Now that’s wisdom.
Response: Father God, help me see your love for me in your commandments. In love, you correct me when I stray. Grant me understanding that comes through a healthy fear and love for you. Amen.
Your Turn: What does fearing God mean to you? Is God your chum, your friend or your master?