Fear, Guilt and Psalm 131:2
Fear can be a crippling emotion. Under the influence of fear people become paralyzed and cannot follow the directives of their brains. Even worse is when the brain itself fails to think logically because it is overwhelmed by the power of fear.
Guilt can also be a crippling emotion. A misplaced sense of guilt can discourage a person from doing what ought to be done. Even worse is when the sense of guilt warps our thinking process and distorts our view of reality.
The masters of persuasion are aware of the power of these emotions and they attempt to harness the forces of fear and guilt in their campaign for possession of the hearts of men.
“Do you want to dwell in the fiery darkness of hell for all eternity?”
“Don’t you realize how evil you are with all of your sins? How can you think of facing the Holy God?”
“He suffered and died for you; how can you even think of turning your back on him?”
“You either belong to Jesus or you belong to Satan; there is no middle ground.”
These statements are not designed to help you make a balanced, educated and sensible decision. These arguments of the masters of persuasion are not presented to the courtroom of your mind with respect for the process that you would normally follow in order to arrive at an honest conclusion. These statements harness the forces of fear and guilt in an attempt to get you to over-ride the logical process. The missionary arguments attempt to move you to give your heart to Jesus without thinking through the matter carefully and deliberately.
How can we overcome the forces of fear and guilt? How can we think patiently and deliberately when the emotions of fear and guilt loom so threatening?
I only know of one way to brush these powerful emotions aside. This is the path that King David spells out so clearly in his beautiful songs. This is the path of trust in God.
David found himself in situations where he could have been completely engulfed and swallowed by fear and guilt. Throughout the Psalms David describes the forces that threaten him; be they his enemies or his own sins. And throughout the Psalms we find that David’s heart is only facing in one direction – towards His Father in heaven. When we read the Psalms we see how David’s trust in God filled his heart with confidence and security. We can feel the calmness and the peace in David’s heart no matter what and no matter when.
Why was David so secure in God? Did David think that his good works earned him a special spot in God’s heart? Did David think that God “owes him one” because he took a “leap of faith” and gave his heart to God? Did David think that he was “covered” by the right type of sacrifice which gave him a unique standing with God?
The answer is none of the above.
David trusted in God because God is merciful. David trusted God because God’s kindness fills the earth. David trusted God because He has compassion upon all of His creations. David trusted God because God is our Father and your Father loves you (Psalm 131:2).
We can all be David. We can all be confident and secure in God’s love and mercy. God is the Father of every one of us just as He is David’s Father. We can overcome the emotion of panic and the sense of guilt when we realize that God is with us every step of the way.
The masters of persuasion are aware that your trust in God can overcome their weapons of fear and guilt. The last thing these masters of persuasion want you to do is to face God with all of your fears and all of your guilt with confidence and security as David did before you. The masters of persuasion will do anything to prevent you from facing your Father with the simplicity, the love and the security that a child feels when he is cradled in the arms of his mother.
David’s wise son; Solomon taught us that God hates one who “stirs up strife between brothers” (Proverbs 6:19). The masters of persuasion are not satisfied to stir up strife amongst brothers. They need to stir up strife between the Father and His children. They do everything in their power to convince children that they cannot face their own Father without the agency of the “hero” that they are promoting. They try to convince you that your Father won’t look at you while you are stained with sin. They try to discourage you from talking directly to your own Father without the “covering sacrifice” of their idol.
But a child always has the heart of his or her Father. Look at how Daniel dealt with his own guilt and the guilt of his people. During the time of Israel’s exile and dispersion Daniel offered up a lengthy prayer of confession. In this prayer he shamefully admits his own wickedness and the wickedness of his people (Daniel 9:3-20). I would like to draw your attention to the introduction to this prayer and to its conclusion. Daniel introduces his prayer by telling us that he “set his face towards the Lord God” (verse 3). Daniel knew that his own Father would never spurn him despite his sin and guilt. Daniel knew that he could always “set his face” towards his own Father.
Daniel concludes his prayer by telling God: “it is not upon our own righteousness that we pour out our supplications before You but upon Your abundant mercy” (verse 18). With all of his guilt Daniel was still confident and secure in the abundant mercy of his heavenly Father.
As David and Daniel before us we can be secure and confident in God’s mercy and love. We can put our fears and our guilt aside and stride forward along the path of truth; asking honest questions and seeking honest answers. Don’t let anyone tell you that the path of honesty will take you away from the God of truth. As you move forward on the path of honesty you can be sure that you have the heart of the God of truth and that He is with you every step of the way.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal