One technique of cognitive behavioral therapy is a practice called “self-talk.” The idea is that a person can overcome subconscious fears or negative patterns of thinking by choosing to engage with different internal messages. The idea that addressing our thought life can affect our behavior is hardly new. It’s actually ancient biblical truth.
The Bible emphasizes the importance of our thoughts. We’re commanded to give careful attention to the kinds of thoughts we dwell on. It’s no wonder that in addressing fear, we need to consider our mind as an important battlefront. As we read in Psalm 27, David is providing an example of godly “self-talk.” The context of the psalm indicates some kind of opposition: perhaps David was facing the advancement of enemy troops. It’s also plausible that David faced the betrayal of someone close to him.
The psalm divides into three parts. The first six verses resonate with confidence. David acknowledges the character of God. He’s confident that God is stronger than his enemies, and he longs for an intimate awareness of God’s nearness. The tenor of the passage changes, however, starting in verse seven. David becomes a bit more plaintive, less assured, almost desperate for reassurance that God is fighting for him. And then beginning with verse thirteen, David returns to his former confidence, as if the interlude of verses 7 through 12 were nothing more than the emergence of temporary fears which have since been courageously and successfully beaten back by remembering the character and work of God.
The structure of the psalm shows us a realistic trajectory of facing fear. We’re not always steadfast when fears hound us. There are good days and bad days, moments of great confidence and faith and also dark nights of the soul. When fear is near, we’ve got to get on our knees with an open Bible. We can speak aloud what we know of God’s character, praising God as well as proclaiming this truth to ourselves.
Apply the Word
In the psalm, David reminds himself of truth, and that will be a sure source of protection for him. One of the enemy’s first lines of attack is to discredit the Word of God and incriminate the character of God (Gen. 3:1). When we’re afraid, we’re especially vulnerable to the enemy and his lies. Seek the protection of truth, immersing yourself in verses and passages and stories that remind you of God’s loving intentions toward you, His child.