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  • Deb Watters

Confident, Comprehensive Fearlessness (Psalm 91:5-6)

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ⁶nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. —Psalm 91:5-6

The “You will not fear” that begins Psalm 91:5 is not a polite suggestion, but rather a command. It is spoken emphatically and often by God to His servants. God wants us to fear Him, but not the world. What we don’t hear from God in the Bible are promptings like “fear isn’t good for you,” “fear isn’t helpful,” “try not to fear.” No. We hear this exact Hebrew command meaning “do not fear” or “you will not fear” 51 times in the Bible. It is faith-building to name just a few examples here.

God said to Abraham (then Abram) after he rescued his nephew Lot: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, your reward will be very great” (Genesis 15:1).  God spoke it again to Abraham’s son Isaac, “Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring” (Genesis 26:24).

Perhaps the most memorable exhortation with this phrase comes in 2 Kings when Elisha’s servant is terrified as he awakes to find the city surrounded by horses and chariots from the King of Syria.

… And the servant said [to Elisha], "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

Thankfully, God doesn’t command us without explaining His reasons. He doesn’t say “because I told you so” either. Each time we are commanded to be free from fear, notice how it is quickly followed by “for” or “because” and the reasons for our confidence: it is because He is the answer to all our fears. He is our shield, He is our reward, He is with us, He delivers us, and on and on.

Notice how comprehensive are the fears forbidden in Psalm 91: 5-7. We are to be fearless no matter the time of day: we should not fear the terrors “of the night,” the arrows “by day,” the pestilence “in darkness,” or the destruction “at noonday.” We are to be fearless no matter the magnitude of the source—whether the unknown “terror” or dread in our minds, the slim “arrow,” the microscopic “pestilence,” or the monstrous “destruction.”

How can God require this of us? Because He is the answer to all of our fears. The next time you battle fear, call to mind with confidence the comprehensive fearlessness to which God calls you.


For Reflection

  1. What do you fear the most? Compare your fear to those prohibited in today’s verse.

  2. What do your fears reveal about your trust in God’s promises?

  3. Do you give yourself permission to fear certain things? If so, how does this relate to Psalm 91?

  4. Can you recount the attributes of God that give you the grounds to be fearless?

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