Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me (Psalm 23:4 NKJV). David wrote that beloved Psalm. He encountered more terrors as a shepherd and, later, a warrior king than many of us will in a lifetime. He was well-acquainted with fear and terror at the hands of fierce enemies in battle and wild beasts as he tended sheep in his boyhood days.
Yet mighty King David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel, wrote these extraordinary statements of confidence and trust in the Lord:
Psalm 16:8 (NLT)-- I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.
Psalm 27:1 (ESV)-- 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?
Psalm 118:6-7 (The MESSAGE)-- God's now at my side, and I'm not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me? God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.
As a young man, he killed a lion and a bear with his hands to protect a flock of sheep. When Saul questioned David before agreeing to let him attack Goliath, David explained a couple of his boyhood feats of courage and strength in these words, “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine [Goliath], too, for he has defiled the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:34-37).
“I will fear no evil,” David declared in Psalm 23:4. The word “evil” here means adversity, deadly sword, arrows, severe judgments, wild beasts—basically, anything bad or evil, whether human or otherwise. When he was face-to-face with Goliath, David’s solid relationship and trust in the Lord emboldened him to stand up to his most formidable foe with absolute confidence that, come what may, the Lord was always with him.
Even if fighting Goliath seemed a certain death for David, he was not afraid. David was not afraid to die, for he knew that he would instantly be in the presence of His loving Heavenly Father, and no man—not even a nine-and-one-half-foot giant named Goliath—could take him from God’s presence.
When Stephen was stoned to death, he probably felt pain initially, but the Holy Spirit likely came over him and supernaturally anesthetized him. The account is given in Acts &:54-60 (NLT):
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen's accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God's right hand. And he told them, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand!" Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He fell to his knees, shouting, "Lord, don't charge them with this sin!" And with that, he died.
Most of us have never been held at gunpoint or threatened with a knife in a darkened alley. But evil is increasing, and the Apostle Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3:1, “Realize this, that in the last days, perilous times will come.” Perilous means hard to bear, harsh, fierce. We are facing such times now, and our hope must be in Jesus Christ and His great power and love.
Christ Himself sets the standard of exactly what we should be afraid of. When we are in Him, resting securely in the knowledge that our future is with Him, He tells us Who to fear, in no uncertain terms, in Matthew 10:28 (NLT): Jesus said, "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Why not take some time today to meditate on the safe place we have as the children of God? He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge (Psalm 91:1-4 NASB).
© 2023, Chris Custer Werre