"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
the question needs asking: whom shall i fear?
it needs asking because the human model was equipped with fear as a standard feature. fear is not taught or acquired. i don't think it requires proof that babies and heroes and cowards alike all fear. fear comes part and parcel with our design. we don't escape fear any more than we escape hunger, short of death. so, the question is not, "will i fear?," for not a human has avoided it. the answer will always be, "yes, you will fear." it only remains to be seen on whom we will place our fear. the question is, "whom shall i fear?"
mandela acknowledged that even courageous men fear. he "learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear." i agree with nelson that even brave men fear, but i don't believe fear to be the sort of stallion that is broken and finally triumphed over. i just don't see evidence of fear being decisively conquered. i've never laid eyes on anyone annihilating fear, just as i have never met a chap who successfully got a handle on sin once and for all. what i have seen is a sort of transaction of fear. perhaps like energy, fear is neither created nor destroyed, but simply transferred.
when my husband comforts our four-year-old son, he is compelling him to transfer his fear. it doesn't sound that clinical in the mid-night whisperings, but that is exactly what is going on--a fear conversion. especially at night, little b is afraid of bad guys. when he crawls into our bed, papa reminds him that we are only just down the hall from his room. what has our proximity got to do with his fear of bad guys? little b, like most every boy, believes his dad is the most indomitable force to be reckoned with. papa is stronger and more capable, fierce and downright badass than any bad guy little b can imagine. when papa reminds little b of his nearness, little b remembers that this bulwark of a man has promised his protection. little b realizes that papa is more fearsome than the bad guys. little b fears his papa more than he fears the things that go bump in the night. it isn't because his fears are silenced that he is calmed and falls asleep. it is because his fears have found a resting place. little b finds ultimate, truthful comfort in determining the appropriate person on whom to place his fear.
the psalmist wrote the answer into the question. king david wrote relentlessly about The One whom he feared. The LORD, who was his light, salvation and defense, laid claim to the only fear in the life of that mighty warrior-king. if we claim deference to the same LORD David served, we might do well to consider who has captured our dread.