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WE NEED NOT FEAR WHEN GOD IS WITH US

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

23 OCTOBER 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 34:30
1 Samuel 16:1, 13
            21:10-15
            22:1-2
Psalm 34:1-22

If I asked, "Whom do you trust the most?" most people would think of some other human being they know.

Few would automatically respond, "God. I trust Him the most."

But because I'm a pastor, and this is a church, it might have given you just a little hint.

The problem we have is that when faced with situations we fear, most turn to other people for help.

Our preparation verse (Psalm 34:8) told us the answer.

8. O taste and see that the Lord is good;

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Remember that these are the words of David; but like us, David didn't always take refuge in the Lord.

Let's go back in David's life and get some background on what led him to write Psalm 34.

Note what we are told in 1 Samuel 16:1.

1. Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons."

King Saul was not listening to the Lord; thus, the Lord tells Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, David's father, and anoint David as the new king.

And that's exactly what Samuel does, as we can see from verse 13.

13. Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

Now Saul was still king even after David was anointed.

Did God make a mistake?

Of course not!

God anointed David to be the next king of Israel.

He did this so that David would live in that promise and prepare himself for that office.

And Saul realized this, too, so he tried to kill David.

Let's skip ahead to 1 Samuel 21:10-15, and see what happens.

10. Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath.

Gath was in the territory of his enemy.

Why would David go there?

Because he feared Saul more than his enemy.

Because he forgot the promise of God.

He could not be king if the Lord let Saul kill him, so why go to your enemy?

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's what David did.

11. But the servants of Achish said to him, "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying,

'Saul has slain his thousands,

And David his ten thousands'?"

Even Achish recognized David as king, even before David actually took office.

12. And David took these words to heart, and greatly feared Achish king of Gath.

If going to Gath was of God, then there would be nothing to fear; but David fears Achish.

So instead of repenting for his foolishness, and asking God to help him, he turns to other worldly efforts for protection.

13. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.

14. Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me?

15. "Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"

His act worked, so what does he do next?

Note the first two verses of the next chapter (1Samuel 22:1-2).

1. So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's household heard of it, they went down there to him.

2. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.

Couldn't David have done this in the first place?

Of course he could have!

Just as any one of us could have done something differently, if we would have considered more carefully what we were doing and had sought the Lord's direction and His protection.

And, keep in mind that from the description we are given, not everyone who gathered to David were honorable people.

In any event, it was David's deliverance from Achish that prompted him to write Psalm 34.

Now, if you wonder how I know this, the title of the Psalm tells us:

“A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.”

And so we don't get confused over the king's name, Abimelech is a title of King Achish.

Listen to what David says (Psalm 34):

1. I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;

The humble shall hear it and rejoice.

3. O magnify the Lord with me,

And let us exalt His name together.

Everything that David says about the Lord is true; but we don't have to go to the places of the enemy and then, when we are delivered, praise Him.

We can praise God at any time and in any place.

We don't need to be delivered from our fears to praise.

We can praise Him because we have no fears.

We can praise Him for protecting us from our enemies; that we don't have to face them.

And if we continually have His praises before us, we are much more apt to seek the Lord before anyone else.

As an example, there is unbelievable suffering of both humans and animals going on in the world around us, and this is extremely troubling and depressing to most truly compassionate people.

One of the best ways of not being swept away in the misery, and remaining an effective servant of God to help end this pain and suffering is to praise God for the good things we have and see around us every day.

In essence, we do as David wrote.

4. I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.

If God could do that after the fact, He most certainly could do that before there is anything to fear.

5. They looked to Him and were radiant,

And their faces shall never be ashamed.

In Exodus 34:30 we are told that the face of Moses shone, or had a glow about it that was so bright that the people actually were afraid to come near him.

30. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

Now think about this: When a person is fearful, doesn't the color drain from their face?

Likewise, when a person is filled with the joy of the Lord, doesn't their face seem to glow?

If we seek God, He will hear us and answer us.

6. This poor man cried and the Lord heard him,

And saved him out of all his troubles.

7. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,

And rescues them.

In this case, “fear” means a reverence for God.

We may not have a personal guardian angel, but we do have the promise that the angel of the Lord will protect those who reverence God.

8. O taste and see that the Lord is good;

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

9. O fear the Lord, you His saints;

For to those who fear Him, there is no want.

Again, we're talking about reverent fear.

10. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;

But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

Those who resort to violence and destruction will be in want.

But those who seek the Lord, by inference, through love, compassion, and peace, will have every good thing, but not what is bad for them, even if they want it or think they need it.

11. Come, you children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12. Who is the man who desires life,

And loves length of days that he may see good?

13. Keep your tongue from evil,

And your lips from speaking deceit.

14. Depart from evil, and do good;

Seek peace, and pursue it.

These are all acts of love and peace, and in them there is no fear but the reverent fear of the Lord.

15. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,

And His ears are open to their cry.

16. The face of the Lord is against evildoers,

To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Sometimes we make the mistake of resorting to evil as a way of countering our fears.

And what we fail to understand, when we do this, is that we, too, might be cut off with the wicked.

17. The righteous cry and the Lord hears,

And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Also, don't forget that our deliverance can even be through death, which we shouldn't fear; for what greater deliverance could we experience than to find ourselves in heaven?

18. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Those who are saved are those who are gentle in spirit.

Those who are saved are those who have empathy for others and for God's desires.

In other words, do we feel the pain we cause God by our unrighteous acts?

19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous;

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

20. He keeps all his bones;

Not one of them is broken.

21. Evil shall slay the wicked;

And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants;

And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

If you wonder why I am against the killing of any of God's creatures, it's because doing so has a tendency to harden our hearts; for in the act of killing, we lose our empathy for the animal.

And when this occurs, our empathy for other people, and even for God Himself, erodes. We become adept at what we practice, whether good or evil.

Thus, we begin to fear each other, for we know that they are capable of doing the same violent acts as we are.

So, if we build our lives upon the love of God, and live in peace with all of God's creation, we will have nothing to fear.

The love and peace of God has delivered us from all our fears, for it has protected us by placing us in the shelter of the Lord.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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