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  • Deb Watters

Reliable Emergency Plans For Your Darkest Hour (Psalm 34:4-5)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. —Psalm 34:4-5

There are many blockbuster promises in the Bible, and today’s verse is a prime example. In Psalm 34:4-5, David models for us what we can do when we are afraid, and he shows us how God responds. David gives us a front row seat to what it is like to depend on God in our darkest hour.

A Reliable Witness

It is awful when someone near to us goes through a trial. But there can be something remarkably comforting about watching someone go through a trial well. It can offer us, as onlookers, hope that we would be as courageous, as comforted, and as reliant on God as that person if it ever came our time to experience the same.

I remember like yesterday a time when a friend asked for prayer for a young man struck by lightning while sailing. My friend forwarded email updates from the young man’s father and I hung on every word, awed by the father’s peace and wisdom and confidence in God’s sovereignty. But with each letter and drastic medical procedure, the son slowly slipped away and finally died.

I can tell you that, as I read, I felt terror for this father. He was living my worst nightmare—a child dying. I felt sure that I could never handle it so well as he. In fact, I had a hard time understanding this man’s peace. I was terrified for him, but he was not. It was clear that God was comforting, strengthening, assuring, and delivering this father from fear.

And watching what God was doing for this total stranger gave me hope. You might ask, “hope in what?” Hope that if I ever had to suffer like this father, that if my faith was ever tested to this degree, that God would be so real and trustworthy for me that I would value Him more than my hurt and loss. I wondered if I could hold on to God and trust him like that father, but I had a renewed hope that the answer was yes. This father, like David in Psalm 34, was a reliable witness that God would be faithful in my darkest hour. So let’s take a closer look at this promise.

From Hero to Zero

It is clear in Psalm 34:4-5 that David was afraid and in trouble. In fact, we know from the backstory to this Psalm (found in 1 Samuel 21:8-15) that David was running for his life from King Saul. What makes his predicament so remarkable is that David had established himself as a brave warrior who was loyal to the king. He initially sealed his fame by courageously defeating a giant named Goliath armed with nothing but a slingshot. Now David was a fugitive in his enemy Goliath’s hometown of Gath, surviving only by pretending to be a crazy person, complete with drool running down his face. In an unjust turn of events, he had gone from “hero to zero.” He was in trouble.

David Seeks God

So David “sought the Lord” (Psalm 34:4). He didn’t turn to his friends or resources. He turned to God. Based on David’s other prayers for help in the book of Psalms, we can guess that David asked God for specific and practical help.

God Answers

Then something astounding happened: God answered. Don’t miss this: the God who created all that exists, answered a man calling for help. And God delivered what he needed the most: peace. Every single one of David’s fears disappeared. God delivered him from all his fears. Isn’t that amazing?

Notice that God didn’t fix David’s predicament. No, the circumstances that threatened to destroy his faith, hope, and courage were likely still there. But something had changed and it was how David was dealing with those circumstances because of what God was doing to his heart.

God delivered something else as well: joy and vindication. David testifies that those who look to God for help, are so changed on the inside that others can see it on the outside: “they are radiant, and their faces are never covered in shame” (Psalm 34:5). Considering David’s humiliating fall from grace, with drool running down his beard, this is quite a testimony. Despite his circumstances, David was radiant with joy and unashamed because God was on his side. In the New Testament Paul summarized the believer’s confidence so well: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Don’t you love the absolutes in these promises? When we look to God, He delivers us from all our fears—those who look to him are never ashamed.

There is a reason that this particular verse is so close to my heart. Several years ago, when two of our seven children battled pediatric cancer, I ran to this verse and hung on tight to its promises. When fears overwhelmed me, I savored what this verse and others revealed about God’s character. I remembered David’s testimony and those like the father I mentioned above.

And when the dreaded days came when our 14-year-old son Victor was dying, amidst the sorrow, I experienced a peace that I couldn’t explain. It was then that I learned for myself the bedrock truth of Psalm 34.


For Reflection

  1. Is there something that seems unjust in your life right now? How can you seek God for help and trust him to answer?

  2. Do you have a particular fear in your life about something that has or might happen? If so, how can you speak truth to yourself about those fears given Psalm 34?

  3. David sought the Lord. How can you make a regular practice of seeking the Lord and what steps can you take to assure that you stay on track in that habit?

  4. Do you trust God to answer you? Remind yourself of a time in your life that God answered a specific prayer. What are your favorite stories in the Bible of God answering prayer?

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