By Tamra Dalbey
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” ( Proverbs 29:25)
How we respond to fear results in us either being caught in a snare, or caught in safety. We can see how this played out in the lives of two different kings when they encountered the fear of man— King Saul and King David.
King Saul was riddled with fear, especially the fear of man. Most of his fears were shaped around losing power and jealousy of David’s growing popularity with both man and God. Inevitably, he lost his right to rule Israel when he made a sacrifice driven by fearful motives. “Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice’.” (1 Sam 15:24) In striving to hold on to everything, he lost it all, even his sanity. He listened to fear’s voice and let it overcome him, when he should have trusted the voice of the Lord.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
The same word for trust is used in both Proverbs 29:25 and Isaiah 26:3-4. According to Strong’s, this word can be translated: confident, bold, secure, sure, to feel safe, to be careless.
The word careless caught my attention. It’s that carefree thing that kids have— because they trust their parents have everything under control. For instance, my kids don’t worry that we’ll run out of food, or that I’ll crash the car on our way to gymnastics. No second thoughts— they have complete, secure trust.
David modeled this “carelessness” so well when he brought the Ark of the Covenant back into his city. It says in 2 Samuel 6:14, “David danced before the LORD with all his might.” And apparently, he was so preoccupied with worship that he forgot (or wasn’t concerned) about getting dressed properly! Ha! David had a willingness to get “undignified” in magnifying and making much of God. He got so caught up in His presence that he forgot to care what onlookers might think.
…And it pleased the Lord.
As he made his way into the city, his wife watched from the window, hot with disapproval. He was making a fool of himself— and of her, she thought. I love David’s response when she came at him with accusation, attempting to shame him:
“And David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD–and I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor’.” (2 Sam 6:21-22)
Sheesh! You can almost hear his righteous indignation. If only we could respond the same way David did— extinguishing the arguments the enemy places in our heads. They misunderstood you. You didn’t communicate that very well. What will they think of you now? Seriously, we’d do good to do like David and tell Satan: I WILL WORSHIP GOD, if you don’t like it… then go bother someone else!
The story also shows us the effects of the opposite response. We see Michal (notably, Saul’s daughter) ended up barren the rest of her days. No fruit comes from being consumed by others’ thoughts. Look at what we lose when we let the fear of man dictate! Fear threatens to steal away the full potential of closeness we were meant to experience with God as His kids. Saul’s story is truly heartbreaking.
I burn to be part of a generation who values the opinion of God higher than the opinion of man.
So how do we practically fight against this trap of fear?
We take our thoughts captive, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Cor 10:5)
We speak His promises over ourselves. Even when his own son Absalom was hunting to kill him, David proclaimed, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalm 3:3&6) It’s like right as fear came rushing into David, he expelled it with truth.
We renew our minds. (Eph 4:23-24) (Rom 12:2)
What empowered David most was his close communion with the Lord. God was his only Friend. David found Him strongest when he was alone, hiding for his life in the wilderness. Externally the battle was raging. But internally, David had rest by green pastures and quiet waters (Psalm 23). David faced much more hardship in his lifetime than Saul ever came close to. Yet he was the one kept in safety, evading the snare of fear. Because David had ONE desire— to seek after the Lord— and it preserved him. He learned the Shepherd’s voice by proximity. He listened to His voice, and it drowned out the voice of fear.
We can do the same. Even in the busy moments. We can go about our day with busied hands— but with eyes fixed on Jesus our prize. On the inside, our spirits ministering to His. To have our hearts say thank You, You alone are worthy. To give Him our days, our lives— and all the more when we are fearful!
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18a)
Consider the Root of David, Jesus; His work on the cross eradicated fear. How he must have had even broken Saul on his mind when He took up the cross. With great passion and sorrow for us did He overcome fear and death… because we were the joy set before Him. Hallelujah! Death can no longer mock us or make us nervous. Oh death where is your sting?! We need to remember what we have been liberated from. And as we put our childlike trust in the Godman who loved us like this, that fear would indeed be cast out!
Father, I ask that You would give us a freedom from fear right now. I pray that in days to come we wouldn’t be so concerned about how we are perceived by others because we’re so preoccupied with loving You back. Teach us to use the Sword of the Spirit, and all the Armor of God… not only defensively— but offensively. Boldly advancing against the enemy, taking back ground he has stolen. May the toxic fear of man find no place in our resurrected identity. But, like David, we would be positioned with our face like flint toward something— Someone greater.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)