Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Reading this verse is exciting. To think about the image that is being described here is pretty awesome. However, I am sure some who read it struggle with what it says and it causes some confusion for them. We will discuss that in a bit but first lets look at what this verse says. The idea of having an angel or angels surrounding us and Christ delivering us is exciting and comforting.
When I read this verse my mind is taken to one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament, 2 Kings 6:15-17. The king of Aram was going after Elisha. He sent his troops to capture him. Elisha’s servant woke up and went out side, when he did he freaked out! “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” He saw the city surrounded by an army. I am sure if we were in the same position we would probably freak out too! Not Elisha though, he knew God was in control and everything was taken care of. He told his servant to not be afraid because, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The servant must have thought he had lost it. It was just two of them. There was no “with us” in his mind. Then Elisha prayed and asked for his servants eyes to be open. What we are told next is just too amazing to even imagine, “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
The servant was able to see what none of us are capable of seeing. He was able to see why Elisha was not afraid. This man had his eyes opened to the spiritual world that was around him. He saw that he and Elisha were not alone. I love the comparison to what we read. When we see the army of Aram we are told there are, “an army with horses and chariots.” When the servant was able to see who was with him and Elisha he saw “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” The same thing, horses and chariots, but there was a big difference in that one of them were of fire! I can not even begin to imagine what that must have been like. It has been described by commentators as an army of angels surrounding them. How wonderful to see that and know God had you covered and taken care of. When I read that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him that is the picture I see.
The next part of the verse contains a phrase that many people who read the bible struggle with, “those who fear Him.” People struggle with the idea of fearing God. They often ask if He is a loving God why should we fear Him. Some wonder what it means to fear Him or how that should look in our life. To understand what the phrase means we need to look at what the word fear really meant in the original language. The original hebrew word meant to have reverence, to have respect. Some have described it as being in awe but the best definition I find that goes with the meaning of the word is submission. Those who submit to the Lord.
Probably one of the best ways for us to understand what it means to fear the Lord is to think about our families. When I was growing up I feared my dad. I did this for a couple reasons. One was because I was afraid of the punishment I would receive. If I did something that deserved a punishment my dad would remind me that my actions were not appropriate. The fear of my dad was motivation for me to keep from doing some things, although not always. Personally I don’t really think that is how God works. I don’t think he wants us to obey Him out of fear of some punishment he would give us for messing up. Heck he was willing to die for us so that we wouldn’t face a punishment that we deserve! I don’t think that is the way things work with Him. Please understand, there are often natural consequences for the choices and decisions we make but I don’t believe God is waiting for us to screw up so he can punish us. His mercy is new every morning Lamentations says!
I looked up to my dad. I wanted to make him proud of me. I respect my dad. Because of that I wanted to act the way that I was supposed to act. I wanted to do the things I was supposed to do and didn’t want to do the things I wasn’t supposed to do (most of the time, I mean come on I was a stupid kid.) I “feared” disappointing my dad, letting him down, making him feel hurt or disrespected. So I submitted to the rules and guidelines he laid down for me (again, most of the time, I was far from perfect.) All that I did could be explained as fear, but not in a way that we think of fear. When it comes down to it, you could actually say I “feared” my dad out of love.
I love him so much, even to this day I do not want to disappoint him. I have not wanted to look my dad in the eye and tell him that I had done something I shouldn’t do. When he asks me to do something, I do it because I love him. Not because I am afraid of what he will do if I don’t or I am afraid he might do something to me. I do it because it is the right thing for someone who loves him to do.
That is a picture of what our life should be as we “fear the Lord.” We should love the Lord so much and be submitted to Him to such a degree that we want to do whatever He tells us to do and we don’t want to do the things he tells us not to do. Those who fear the Lord can simply be said as those who Love the Lord enough to submit to Him and His calling.
When we do that we are told in the passage that he will deliver us. What a wonderful promise that is. What an amazing thing to think about. If you go back to Elisha God delivered him from the army of Aram in a pretty amazing way. If you don’t know how or didn’t read that far go back to 2 Kings 6 and see what our amazing God did.
The word for deliver in this passage can be defined as rescued from danger. If we love the Lord and submit to Him he will send his angels to surround us and rescue us from our danger. When we think about this on an eternal scale, we have been delivered from spiritual death. We have been delivered from the lordship of satan. We have been rescued from our deserved punishment for our sinful nature. What a wonderful thing to thank God for at this moment.
The verse says that he will deliver those who fear Him. I can think of times in my life when God has delivered me from things. I have made some bad choices before that could have turned out in a bad way had God not moved in my life through the Holy Spirit and delivered me. Of course there were still consequences for my decision but he took me out of the situation I was in. When I think about Him delivering me I picture Him walking through it with me. Going through the struggle together. Sometimes that may be a painful experience, a hurtful experience or an extremely difficult one but he walks through it with us.
Things to Think About
1.) How would you have defined fearing the Lord before you read todays reading?
2.) Describe another relationship other than a parents that would be an example of fearing.
3.) Describe a time in your life when you could feel the presence of the Lord as you were walking through a difficult time.