Previously I have written about the enemies God ultimately saves us from. We can have peace and joy about our eternity because of God’s defeat of our enemies. In the Psalms, we find places where God also saves us from fear. In each case, the name used for God is Adonai Yahweh, or Sovereign Lord. In each case, he is directly attacking a fear among his people. So, if, as we saw previously, as a savior he conquers his enemies, which are ultimately our enemies, then as a sovereign Lord, he is the one who conquers all our fears. He replaces our spiritual depression with joy; he replaces our fear with courage by his strength.
Here are the five fears he conquers by his name:
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
David looks out at his life and he’s conducting a kind of survey; he’s figuring out where the boundary lines are. He looks and he says, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Ps. 16:6). So, what does he mean by that? He means that in his boundary lines, God has given him the most pleasant gifts and they will never leave him into all of eternity. God has given him his salvation; he’s given him the salvation of his family; he’s given him the salvation of his closest friends.
David acknowledged that this was the most precious gift he could be given – eternal life. No matter what happens to his body or the body of his loved ones, they will live forever. David was not afraid to die.
Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
Because God is the sovereign Lord from whom all power is derived, there’s no need to fear death and there’s no need to fear man. David fears no man’s face. How differently would we live if we weren’t afraid to die and we weren’t afraid of what people thought or what people would say or what people could do to us or that people could fire us or that people could sue us. If we were not afraid of man, what difference would it make?
One of my heroes, Fred Shuttlesworth, died a few years ago. Shuttlesworth was called by Martin Luther King Jr. the bravest man in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a Baptist pastor in north Birmingham and took on Bull Connor personally. When he announced that he was going to participate in the bus boycott, the Klu Klux Klan blew up his house with him in it. His congregation came, looking at the rubble they were weeping around this rubble, lamenting that the pastor had been killed, and then someone heard a voice. The voice said, “Well, I ain’t comin’ out there naked!” It was Pastor Shuttlesworth. The bomb had blown his clothes off. He was finally able to get a trench coat, and he came out and he preached. Another time, a group of hate mongers pulled that trench coat up over his head and beat him, with the white women surrounding saying, “beat him tell he’s dead.” He survived it and got up and walked within minutes. Another time, they surrounded his car. They started beating on the car and rocking the car, saying, “we’re gonna kill you.” So, Shuttlesworth got out of the car and walked right in the middle of them: “If you’re gonna kill me, kill me. But you can’t intimidate me.” That’s the way we ought to live – to fear no man’s face.
3. Lost Reputation
But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
Because the sovereign Lord is our strength, there should be no fear of lost reputation. Sometimes in the south we fear that worse than death. One thing that makes us wonderful is that we love our honor. One thing that makes us terrible is that we love our honor, and we’re willing to be dishonorable to protect it. God says that he will save his honor, but he doesn’t guarantee that he’ll save ours. There’s no need to fear it. If God vindicates you, you’re vindicated.
Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.
God’s sovereign strength takes away our fear of injustice that can’t ultimately hurt us. Later in the Psalm, David acknowledges God’s ultimate victory over evildoers who carry out injustice:
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence. (12-13)
Because God’s justice will ultimately be carried out and all things will be put right, we have no need to fear injustice now.
But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Finally, God’s sovereignty gives us no need to fear the future. David urges us to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord who never forsakes his children in spiritual poverty, emotional need or physical distress.
So, David effectively says, “I don’t know what else they could do to me. They could set any number of traps that I can’t anticipate, but it doesn’t matter.” Ultimately, God will cause them to fall into their own traps, because he is the sovereign Lord. They have no ability unless he gives it to them.
God saves us from our enemies ultimately, but he also saves us from our fears now. Because of who God is, Adonai Yahweh the Sovereign Lord, we no longer have to fear death, man, lost reputation, injustice, or the future. He is sovereign over them all.