Being afraid is normal. Fear is a natural emotion God placed in us for survival. Indeed, there are some things in Scripture we are told to fear. For example, we are told to fear the Lord. We are told in Matt. 10:28 to fear “him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Yet God would not have us live our lives in total fear of everything.
There are two ways to deal with fear as Christians. One is found in John’s epistles and the other is here in Proverbs. Both are equally valid and work together to drive fear from the heart of the believer.
Here in Proverbs, Solomon is writing to his sons about God’s wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Solomon says God founded the earth by wisdom and established the heavens through understanding. The depths are broken up and the clouds drop their dew by God’s knowledge. Then Solomon goes on to write what we read in verses 21-26:
21 My son, let not them depart from your eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
22 So shall they be life unto your soul, and grace to your neck.
23 Then shall you walk in your way safely, and your foot shall not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid: yes, you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet.
25 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes.
26 For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
The ‘them’ in verse 21 refers to God’s wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Solomon tells his sons not to let these three things depart from their eyes. In other words, they are to embrace the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding their father speaks of. The benefits of doing so are listed in verses 22-24.
Of particular interest are versus 24-26. When we seek after godly wisdom, knowledge and understanding, God gives it. Those are things he will never deny. As long as we come to him with a right heart, he will always give abundantly. And what’s the result of having abundant wisdom, knowledge and understanding? Confidence by and in the LORD.
That confidence allows the believer to live a life without fear. It allows the believer to lie down and sleep peacefully. In fact, verse 24 speaks of sweet sleep.
Throughout my life I have been told by many people that I am fearless. My wife has even told me that there aren’t many things that scare me. Well, I can tell you that others’ perceptions of me are not accurate. I am a human being like everyone else. There are things that scare me.
I’ll be honest. Sometimes I lie in bed at night fearful of what would happen if someone broke into the house and threatened my wife and me. I have a physical disability that prevents me from being much help in the event of an emergency. I might be able to protect her under the right conditions, but the chances are greater that I would not.
What do I do when I begin to fear and cannot sleep? I remind myself of this passage in Proverbs as well as a similar passage in Psalms:
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.” ~ Ps. 4:8
Psalm 4:8 is one of my favorite Scripture references because it has brought me so much comfort for so many years. Look, we live in a day and age in which it is very easy to be fearful. The media is constantly reminding us of so many dangers that will inevitably destroy humanity. We couple that to our own fears about everything from finances to disease. It’s enough to overwhelm.
God did not make us to live in fear. He does not want us to spend our lives cowering in the corner. He sent Jesus to save us and to give us life more abundantly. The abundant life Jesus gives is not just for eternity, it’s also for the here and now.
So rest in Christ. Pursue God’s knowledge, wisdom and understanding, with the goal of obtaining that confidence that the LORD so freely gives. With his confidence in your heart, you will not live in fear. You will lie down and sleep sweetly at the end of each night. You will rise each morning, looking forward to the day instead of being afraid of it.