“Fear hath torment”

Ball and shackle with 'Fear' written on it

“And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? And David laid up these words in his heart and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. And he changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house? David therefore departed thence and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 21:10–22:2).

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

It is obvious that fear dominates the time in which we live. In the last few months, we can see how fear is paralyzing mankind, but worse yet how it is impacting true believers who, until just a few months ago, boasted in how they trusted in God.

One of the powerful attributes of the Scripture is that it is living and applicable to every period of our lives. The historical books are extremely helpful because they bring before us historical facts that happened to real people; for it is clear that Scripture is not theoretical or limited in its impact to a certain time in history.

David is well known to be one of the bravest men that ever lived. The story in 1 Samuel 17 shows clearly his valiant spirit, although to the eyes of men he was no match to Goliath. The secret of his courage was not a careless spirit, but he had the right estimate of Goliath (an uncircumcised Philistine) and he also had the right perspective of the power of the living God. And to the amazement of all around, this young man who had faith in the living God, overcame the fear that characterized the whole army of Israel and brought victory and gave courage to those around him. But it is interesting that a few chapters later we see the same David behaving in the opposite way.

And I always wondered, Why? Could it be that the spirit of fear had taken hold of his heart? Let us before the Lord examine that and let us also examine our own hearts.

Fear of Saul

First, his fear of Saul caused him to forget what God had promised him: that he would have the throne, which meant that God would preserve him until He fulfilled His promise, for God is not a man that He should lie. That fear made him leave his inheritance and seek protection from the Philistines. When fear likewise governs our hearts, we also will lose sight of our inheritance and all His promises never to leave us or forsake us will diminish in our eyes. The Scripture says that the Lord is our inheritance. Let us always remember that the Lord is our Shield.

Fear of Achish

Then, the fear of Achish, the king of the Philistines. It is hard to believe that the brave David who acted in all dignity and who trusted God in front of Goliath would behave as he did in front of Achish. If David in his time of fear acted that way, we are also in danger that we will act as mad men when we lose sight of the Lord and seek to find protection in the world, its methods, its advice, and its point of view. How sad that sight was for David’s men as they watched their leader behave in such a way because he was concerned and feared for his safety, forgetting the dignity that should characterize those who fear the Lord, seek His hand of protection, and trust Him in all of their circumstances.

But thank God that the story did not end there. David realized that his place of safety was in the cave of Adullam, which means “testimony for them.” Although the palace of Achish was perhaps more comfortable than the cave of Adullam, in that cave he learned afresh the strength and protection of the Lord, for he wrote in Psalm 56:11 and in Psalm 34 about his learning experiences there. But just as fear is contagious, so is courage: In the cave of Adullam, there were those who were attracted to David despite their state—in stress, in debt, and discontented. Yet they found with David they would be in safe keeping even in the discomfort of the cave. That is a testimony to all who want to overcome fear. For out of the cave of Adullam went the three mighty men, putting their lives in danger to satisfy the longing desire of their lord David and to bring him a cup of water to refresh his heart. Fear is gone (1 Chronicles 11:15–19).

The Fear of death

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14–15).

In the New Testament, the Spirit of God tells us that one of the most fearful weapons in Satan’s arsenal is the fear of death, for it keeps men in bondage. After all, the Scripture tells us that death is the “king of terror,” and today Satan roars as a lion to put fear in our hearts. But today we have more than David ever had. We have the complete work of Christ, Who destroyed him who has the power of death, the devil (Hebrews 2:14–15), and delivered us from the fear of death. For death, which the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:26 is the last enemy, has its sting taken away, and it death become a means to transport us to Paradise if the Lord has not come yet for His own.

If David did not have that knowledge, neither was he indwelled by the Holy Spirit, how should we who have all these resources react to the fear at the present time? Saul, a type of man in the flesh, or the flesh in us, brings fear and makes us lose sight of our Christian inheritance, which includes the promise of the protection of the Lord. Fear from the Philistines around us with their news media and so-called subject matter experts will cause us to behave in an undignified way and bring shame upon the name of the Christ for whom we are called.

But those who are the family of God, loved by the Father and by the Son and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, would live in the circle of divine love and say: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Indeed, fear is an immensely powerful emotion, and John in his epistle tells us that it torments, but perfect love casts out fear. Let us learn from these clear lessons in the Word of God, let us take courage, let us walk in the dignity of the sons of God, and let us not fear their fear, but set up Christ as Lord in our hearts and walk in the light of that knowledge.

The world is watching how Christians who claim, “Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me,” are walking in the midst of today’s confusion and fear caused by Covid 19.

Do we have something the unbelievers in Christ do not have? We do have the Lord and with Him we have the only safety and security any one can obtain.

We should offer that to a world that is full of fear and anxiety and that are heading to eternity in the lake of fire; they need our Lord Jesus and His great Salvation. For this is the only God-given remedy that will remove fear from hearts of the children of men today. But they will not accept that from us until they see a practical expression of it in us and the reality that we live what we believe and what we preach.

The world today and its experts are concerned only about man’s body. They tell us what to do and how to be protected, though they change their mind and advice and recommendations and mandates every day.

Even many of these experts admit that they do not know what the best mean of protection. The expressions used today by experts—and almost everyone—are “I do not know” and “we do not know.” How many times, dear believers, have you heard that?

In contrast, how wonderful to hear one in a most dire condition, in a Roman jail, no clean air, no sanitary conditions, and with the sentence of death hanging over his head saying, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

The dignity, the confidence, the trust in the Lord, and the faith in Him that belongs to the heart of those that love Him cannot be in words only, for theoretical Christianity has no value to anyone. Let us join the recovered David, who learned his lessons in the school of God and recorded them to us by the Spirit of God in Psalm 34 and 56, and let us say with him:

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee…In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:3, 11).

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

“O think not of this world of woe.
Though subject still to grief;
But seek your portion there to know,
For this will give relief.
Aye trust, forever trust in God,
For every promise given;
And dwell with Him through Jesus’s blood,
Within the veil of heaven.”

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