In moments of great fear, we respond in ways that might not be characteristic of us. Fear brings out deep places within us that we might not even know are there. Whether fear comes from a diagnosis, a pandemic, or even something that has played out a what-if story in our minds.
As I was coming home from work one afternoon, I noticed what seemed to be a small alligator about 10 feet from me. I immediately panicked. I did what any freaked out person would do, called Animal Control. I also called my husband who raced home from work only to discover, in my embarrassment, that it was a toy alligator. Thankfully, Animal Control had not yet arrived to rescue me from the plastic squeak toy, so my dignity was spared when we called them off.
Though most fear is unreasonable or even unnecessary, it is often unwilling to obey our reasoning until proven otherwise.
David felt great fear in 1 Samuel 21 when faced with the king of Gath. He thought surely he was good as dead. The king was far more frightening than a toy alligator. Regardless of the fact that David had single-handedly killed the giant everyone else had feared not long ago, yet in this moment his fear wasn’t listening to the voice of truth from the past. That was then, this is now. In the moment
David reacted as he never had before. He didn’t take up the sword, pray to God and fight. No, this time, he turned his behavior into that of a madman it tells us in verse 13. And even in his odd response, he is spared by the evil king. On the other side of the fear, David recognizes God’s sovereign hand and thus Psalm 34 is penned.
The Psalm opens with praise. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” says the opening line. Blessing here is from the original word also meaning to kneel. The psalmist takes the right position before his God and his mouth offers praise. He came through a difficult season or fearful trial and his first response is praise to God.
David goes on to say, “My soul makes its boast in the LORD, let the humble hear and be glad.”
The psalmist’s soul does not pride himself in himself and his own ingenuity rather he makes his boasting in Yahweh, the covenant keeping God who protected him from what he greatly feared; in this moment it was death. He speaks of it so others hear what happened and it is a testimony of what God did, not what man did.
Finally in verse 3 we see the invitation to others, “Oh magnify the LORD with me, let us exalt his name together!”
Misery loves company, but so does praise and gratitude. When we speak complaints and irritations and pessimism, we invite others to the same. But when we speak praise and gratitude and marvel over what God has done in our lives, we also invite others to the same.
So today, whether we are facing a real fear or a perceived fear. Will we remember the One Who is sovereign? When we have come through the trial what are you and I going to speak of? Are we going to praise God with the same passion that we used when we begged for safety or release from fears? When He shows Himself to be God in and through our trial will we speak of all we did and how wise we were or will we point to the life giving grace of God? Will we speak fear or faith?