Fear: Motivation or Paralyzation
Where do you take refuge when fear comes upon you? There are two sides to fear. There is a healthy side to fear. You dart into action to rescue your child from a busy street. That’s a good fear. That’s the type of fear we are to have in the Lord.
But, then there’s that unhealthy fear, an unhealthy fear that paralyzes us. It causes us in many ways to go into hiding. Sometimes, for long periods of time. The Psalmist, David, before he took the throne, often lived as a fugitive. He was in fear of his life because of King Saul. There were times that he did not know what to do or where to go because of King Saul.
There were other times in his life that he was fleeing from his own son. His own son was rebelling against him. And as a result, he would flee like a fugitive, hiding from him and trying to save his own life. In Psalm 11, David gives seven of the most powerful verses to help us to deal with fear. The message of Psalm 11:1-7 is faith in God and fear cannot exist together. It is one or the other. We either trust God and live in obedience to him. Or, we let fear, the unhealthy fear, take us into hiding and run for our lives.
When fear creeps up on us, we make a choice to take refuge in the Lord or by some other means. When we take refuge in some other means, it is usually to hide. Fear paralyzes us.
The Advice of Fear (Psalm 11:1-3)
Taking refuge in and of itself is not a problem. It is when the storms of life arise, where do we take refuge? David said, “It’s in the Lord that I will take refuge.” Do you know that in the storms of life there is no stronger, greater protection and refuge for us than to be in the Lord?
David is asking his friends, “How can you say to my soul?” They advised him to run. Then respond with a question, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Their advice is natural in such a situation, “Let’s get outta here.” Rightly so because he was in danger. He had a reason to be concerned for his own life. So, his friends were saying to him, “Come on, let’s run now.”
In this case, David was the appointed man of God. David had a mission from God. So, David is saying to them, “How can you say to my soul, flee to the mountains?” In response to his friends, he said, “I’m not going to flee to some mountain.” He had confidence that he was where God wanted him.
David’s friends were fear mongering. Fear mongering is a manipulation, isn’t it? It manipulates your emotion. It manipulates and takes advantage of the situation to persuade you to do something that you know you shouldn’t do. Yet, David understood that his friends were speaking out of fear.
Well-intentioned advice is not always the best advice. There must be a measure of discernment in our lives in the situation. When someone gives us what they think is good advice, we must measure the advice against the word of God. When my wife and I found out that our baby was going to die, people came out of the woodwork with advice. People everywhere had advice for us. We had to measure it against the word of God to discern the right path. What was the right thing to do? What should we do? That is true in any situation of life. Advice, even though it’s well-intentioned, it is not always good advice.
The advice of David’s friends was well-intentioned because, in verses two and three, they acknowledge that the enemy was preparing their bow to shoot. That would be the equivalent of saying, “Look, there is a loaded gun to your head run.” Yet, David had the discernment to know, this fear mongering was leading him to fear something that he could not see. Do you know the things that we fear the most oftentimes do not ever come to pass?
David understood that whatever situation this is, his Lord was greater. When you fear things that you can’t see, you really are walking in fear.
David’s friends asked, “If the foundations are shaken, what are the righteous going to do?” That’s a good question. If we have the hope that the earth needs when those foundations are shaken, what are we going to do? What are the righteous going to do? We’re living in a day where people like the Muslim faith and Isis are trying to shake the very foundation of faith.
The Answer of Faith (Psalm 11:4-7)
What do the righteous do? David says, “The Lord is in his holy temple.” It is not known if he’s thinking of the Tabernacle here on earth or if he’s thinking of heaven. But, in the second statement, he turns our thoughts toward heaven. Not only is the Lord in his Holy Temple, but the Lord’s throne it is in heaven.
Sometimes in Hebrew poetry, a statement is made and then it’s stated again to bring clarity to it. So, that could be the case here in that he’s referring to the holy temple as being heaven. It does not matter if he is referring to the earthly tabernacle or heaven, David’s point is that the Lord is in control.
David calls us to remember what God sees (Psalm 11:5-6). Many times fear a result of the unknown. In verses four and five, David reminds us that the Lord is in his temple, he’s in heaven. He then reminds us that God sees. When fear arises in your soul, remember that our God sees. There is nothing in this life that you and I go through, that he does not see. Yet, sometimes we’re so paralyzed with fear. We live as if we’re the only ones who can see it. God sees.
David proceeds to say, “let him rain coals on the wicked (Psalm 11:6).” Does that sound harsh to you? David had enough confidence in his God to know that one day the unrighteous would suffer for their unrighteousness. David is not asking God to do something that is against God’s nature. God, one day, will have the last word. God will put the enemy down for all of eternity. In other words, the unrighteous are going to reap what they have sown.
In verse seven, David Remembers God’s Love and favor, “For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face (Psalm 11:7).” It is good to remind ourselves that we should live this life in light of eternity. If we’re so focused on the circumstance of the here and now, then we are not taking David’s counsel. When we are focused on the temporal, we forget that God is the victor. Because God is the victor, so are we. But, we forget that don’t we?
Take Refuge in the Lord
Are you living in fear or are you living by faith? Are you going to take refuge in the Lord? Are you going to run and try to take care of things yourself, hide and let fear paralyze you? One of the greatest hindrances to the work of God in this life is when you do not fully have faith in Him and you let fear paralyze you.
Remember who God is. Remember where He is. Remember what He sees. Remember that the wicked will have their destiny. God’s love and favor are upon us. So whatever you’re going through, take refuge in Him.