Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. - Psalm 91: 5-6 (KJV)
We have been going verse by verse this past week through Psalm 91 and now we come to verses 5 and 6, which contain our assurances from God regarding a topic many are familiar with -- fear. We live in a society gripped by fear. With each passing day we delve further into the end times and as we see the love of most growing cold we see more and more things to be afraid of. Between the global threats and the mass shootings, it can be understandable why many in the world fear so much. It should not be so however for the children of God. While the world spends billions of dollars every year on fear related issues and treatments -- God's people should not live under the same yoke.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -- 2Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)
Well, if God did not give it to you -- guess who did? It is the enemy that seeks to make us feel unloved, powerless and of an unsound mind and fear is one of his favorite weapons to accomplish this. In the key verses, the Psalmist assures us that there are no circumstances in this life that we need to be afraid of. There are two specific dimensions covered in these verses. First of all, the Psalmist assures us that it matters not what comes against us and secondly, it matters not when it comes against us. There will be no need to be afraid.The first assurance is that God will protect us from the "terror by night." Man is innately unsure of himself at night. There is more apprehension brought on by the darkness of night. Society and culture reinforce this as well. Nighttime is inherently more dangerous. The dictionary defines terror as an "intense, sharp, overmastering fear." The key word there is "overmastering". The notion that the fear has now overthrown God, who is your master, and has become your new master. It takes over what you know and believe and replaces it. Anyone who has suffered from anxiety or panic will tell you that it is a cruel taskmaster indeed. Just as the Lord is supposed to rule and reign in our lives -- so anxiety seeks to overthrow that Lordship.
So the terror by night are the most extreme forms of fear that emanate from inside of us, which the enemy seeks to expand upon in our hearts. It is vitally important here that we recognize that the Psalmist does not indicate that we will be exempt from such fears. I think sometimes Christians mistakenly think that their position in Christ changes their position in the world. We still have to go through what everyone else must go through -- we just get to do with the Savior of the world inside of us! Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night. It is not that it will not be there -- but what we believe will be stronger. When David faced Goliath there must have been terror! He was but a teenage shepherd boy and Goliath was a ten foot monster that had all the brave fighting men of Israel cowering in fear. Yet David knew what he believed and he used it to overcome the fear:
"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."Beloved the battle is the Lord's -- not my therapist's. The battle is the Lord's -- not my pharmacist's. The truth is that the bless me theologies of recent days skews things in the wrong direction. We do not need to feel better about ourselves -- we need to feel better about our God! The terror by night refers to the supernatural battles we face every day in the spirit realm. We cannot seek carnal solutions to spiritual problems. It is about taking captive rebellious thoughts and making them obedient to Christ. Our fearful and anxious thoughts stand in defiance of Scripture. In defiance of what we believe and we must take them captive and make them obedient to our faith.
The second circumstance spoken about in verse five is that we will not be afraid for the "arrow that flieth by day." Note the positive manner in which these truths are conveyed. There is no wavering in the voice of the Psalmist. Thou SHALT NOT be afraid. The arrow is representative of the day to day and physical attacks that can come against us in our walks. This portion of verse five refers to the physical protection God offers. There is no need to fear what God has already said will be protected.
But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, - Jeremiah 30:17 (NIV)
God is not a half-way God. He is concerned with everything we face in our lives. When we think about fears and anxieties we often think about large scale issues like we talked about during the terror by night section. But most people who suffer from true anxiety will tell you it is the little things that eat away at them. Jesus taught us to not fret this:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
Worrying cannot add a single hour to our lives but it sure can take hours away! So notice the difference here. The terror by night are the larger than life supernatural battles we face. The crippling fears and anxieties that the devil seeks to stir into the hearts of men. The arrows that flieth by day we see coming much better. These are the cuts and bruises of fear. The little things in our lives add up though don't they? If left unguarded and alone, it is the little fears that grow up to be big anxieties. It is the big anxieties that if left alone will grow into full blown panic. The devil might prefer that he gets us with one blow but if he has to -- he will take us one piece at a time.
So verse five dealt with fears on a grand and supernatural scale as well as the everyday fears we deal with in this world. Verse six however deals with two more aspects, the first being the "pestilence that walketh in darkness." As noted in a previous commentary, pestilence is not only defined as a deadly disease, but also as something that is considered harmful, destructive, or evil. Thus this promise of deliverance from fear includes the fear of anything harmful, destructive or evil. God covers it all! The deeper meaning here is one of sin. The deadly disease of our souls is sin. It is harmful, destructive and evil. But those who have entrusted their lives to God and abide in His promises, have no need to fear sin. In fact, fear in and of itself is sin. It is the unbelief that is sinful. When you fear, you doubt. When we doubt the circumstance, we doubt the very promises of God that have already been made to us.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. - Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)
What upholds us as believers? The righteousness of God. There are no diseases, plots, plans, or sin that we should fear. Will we fall? Absolutely, but God has promised to uphold us with His right hand. What a mighty God we serve!