Summary: Better understand how David was able to not be afraid, and how we might grow more courage in our life.
There is a new television show called Fear Factor. Some critics suggest it is a new low on TV. This "reality show" pays people money to face their biggest fears. So, for example, you have a man staked to the ground with 200 rats crawling over him for ten minutes and getting paid $10,000 for doing that. It is a show that capitalizes on the fact that people are afraid of a lot of different things, and that we sometimes find a perverse pleasure in watching others be afraid.
In our culture we have an epidemic of fears and phobias. People are afraid of not only rats, but of snakes, spiders and maybe even army worms. Others lose sleep over everything from global warming to giant asteroids hitting the earth. Surveys say the most common fear people have is speaking in front of a group of people. Lots of folks fear sickness and health problems, and almost everyone is at least a little afraid of dying. Of course, having no fear is not necessarily the same thing as courage. Sometimes fear can be very healthy. There is an old saying, Fools rush in where angels dare not go. In the book Moby Dick, Captain Ahab says, "I don’t want anyone on this boat who is not afraid of whales." Yet, most of us greatly admire people with true courage. For example, when I think about the pilots in Jimmy Doolittle’s squadron who flew the bombing mission over Tokyo in 1942, I think, "Wow, I wonder if I would be willing to do that? Would I have the courage to risk my life for the sake of this country?"
When we open up the Bible, we see lots of courage. I don’t know who you think is the bravest person in the Bible. I have always liked Daniel down there in that lions’ den, but certainly one of the most courageous individuals in Scripture is David. As a young shepherd boy he fought off a bear and a lion which were threatening his flock. Then apparently when he was a teenager he faced and killed the giant Goliath when everyone else in the army of Israel was afraid to fight. When Saul’s army was hunting him and trying to kill him, David still was not afraid. He expresses his courage in Psalm 27:1 where he says, The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? Friends, today we are going to be exploring Psalm 27. As we look at this passage my hope is that we will better understand how David was able to not be afraid, and how we might grow more courage in our life. Let’s pray that will happen.
What is the source of courage? In David’s life we see it is rooted in his relationship with the Lord. One source of courage was his faith in God. Where there is strong faith, fear tends to disintegrate. David had that type of trust because he had frequently seen God work in his life. 27:2,3 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. Psychiatrists say that repeated experience is often the key in overcoming fear. So whether one is afraid of driving over a bridge or of parachuting out of an airplane, the best cure is usually just doing it over and over again. Every time David saw the Lord provide protection from his enemies, his faith and his courage grew. Every time the Lord delivered him from those who were trying to harm him, David became more bold. In the same way, our experience with the Lord can help our faith and courage to grow. That is why it is so important that we take time to reflect on various ways that God has worked in our life. Yes, faith is a gift from God, but it usually comes in installments. James, Chapter 1, tells that our trials, and especially seeing God provide for and protect us in the midst of those trials, develops patience and helps our faith to grow.
Friends, we all need to ask God to open our spiritual eyes so that we can take a better look at some of the ways that He is working in our lives. When that happens, I believe our faith and courage will increase.
The second reason for David’s courage was his love for God. 27:4,5 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. David is not talking here about having a bedroom in the temple. Moving into the church building and sleeping in a church pew at night are not going to increase our love for God. Rather, he is talking about a close relationship, the intimate fellowship which he had with the Lord. It is one thing to "be with God" but it is another thing to "love being with God." These verses show us that David really treasured his fellowship with the Lord because he loved the Lord with at least, if not all, a good chunk of his heart, soul, mind and strength. And when we love someone, we tend to trust him or her. The more you love, the more you tend to trust, and as we said before, that leads to courage. An example of that is what happened when I was about twelve years old. My parents would leave me home alone for the evening sometimes, and almost every time there would be very strange noises in the house, at least I thought they were very strange noises. I am sure it was usually just the wind blowing. Now, being a brave young fellow, I never got really scared, of course, but it was always a great relief, and I always felt a lot braver, when Mom and Dad pulled into the driveway. Why? Because I loved them, which caused me to trust them, and that helped me not be afraid. So, loving God leads to trusting God, or having faith in God, which gives us courage.