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Fear and Faith


Feeling a bit discouraged today? Being a Christ-follower does not mean you will never have difficult days. “Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down,” declared 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon, “The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”

David also had moments of profound discouragement. Today’s reading begins by noting how David sought refuge with the Philistine ruler Achish in Gath out of fear (v. 1). The last time David went to Achish, Philistine suspicion forced him to feign madness to escape. This time David’s status as Saul’s enemy earned him a welcome that enabled him to operate clandestinely behind enemy lines. He raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, people occupying land that God had promised to Judah. David targeted them because they were the people who had lived in Canaan “from ancient times” (v. 8). The Lord had commanded Israel to make war against them at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 17:15–16; Deut. 25:17–19).

Was David’s decision to deceive Achish a strategic move or a desperate one? The biblical text does not criticize David for taking such actions. David managed to walk the razor’s edge by defending Achish while defeating Israel’s enemies at the same time. But this subterfuge also placed David in an extremely vulnerable position (1 Sam. 28:1–2). Faith is not the absence of fear but the conviction that God is greater than our fears. The greatest danger of fear is that it can also displace faith, causing us to lose sight of God.

>> Are you struggling with fear or discouragement today? Let those emotions point you to God. Pray this prayer of David’s from Psalm 56:3–4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God, I trust and am not afraid.”

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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