Psalm 34

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD . Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

I’ve never had the law gunning for me, or wallowed in the cesspool of addiction, but I’ve been in some pretty good scrapes in my life, mostly financial. In fact it was the sudden loss of a huge chunk of money that brought me to the Lord in the first place, twenty some years ago. And I can say that all my efforts toward rescuing myself from that mess produced exactly nothing. Things went much faster and much better when I gave my problems to the Lord and focused instead on pleasing Him. He did rescue me, and for the most part the anguish I suffered was the result of my fear of the unknown. I don’t know what FDR’s insight was when at the outset of WW2 he advised America, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” But I do know that his advice applies to every believer.

Like most folks, I have two problems trusting the Lord. First I’ve been taught all my life to take charge and make things happen. ” If it is to be, it’s up to me,” I learned to believe. Turning my life over to someone else, even the Lord, wasn’t easy. And second, I know I’m a sinner, not worthy of God’s blessings. And even though I know all about His grace, it’s still hard to believe He’ll bless me when all I deserve is punishment.

But our God has seen the end from the beginning and has promised never to leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the age. He knew all about my sinfulness when He agreed to take me as His own. In spite of that knowledge, He has agreed to watch over me and protect me as long as I continue to confess my sins and strive to live in a way that pleases Him. My fear is just an emotion I let the devil use to torment me. So’s yours.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps, says Proverbs 16:9. I must confess that the life I live now is nothing like the one I planned for myself. Oh, I have all the comforts we come to associate with successful living, but they didn’t come from the material wealth I planned to acquire when I started out. I didn’t achieve that goal, though I can’t say that it’s caused me to suffer any. In fact, I compare pretty favorably with Bill Gates in the things that really matter. My bed is as comfortable as his, my home as warm in the morning when I awaken, and my car as safe and reliable. The lights come on when I flip the switch, I can eat as many meals during the day as I wish, and my food is every bit as nutritious as his. I too have a loving wife and am blessed with beautiful intelligent children.

None of this has come as a result of my own effort. As a matter of fact I, like Job, had to be pretty much divested of all the fruits of my own production to humble me enough to turn to the Lord. When I did He restored me, and ever since He’s given me income when I need it, a house to replace the one I had to sell, food when I’m hungry and drink to quench my thirst. And in the bargain He threw in an insatiable thirst for His Word.

I guess you could say I’m living proof that Psalm 34 is true. If you’ve given Him permission to run your life, then you know this from your own experience, and don’t need me to confirm it. If you’ve only given Him your heart, but not your life, then you have a truly rewarding adventure awaiting you. Why not begin now? “You have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

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