Fear & Foolishness
"I sought he Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed." - Psalm 34:4-5
I don't think I ever associated fear with shame until I read this verse. The entrance into Psalm 34 mentions this psalm being in relation to David's encounter with Ahimelech and then Achish the king of Gath (1 Sam 21).
David starts off by lying. Long story short, David lied to Ahimelech and told him he was on a mission from King Saul. Most believe David lied so Ahimelech could claim ignorance. David feared his presence would lead to the death of the priest. Of course, when you are as warped as King Saul everyone is a threat, so the ruse didn't work and Saul killed Ahimelech anyway.
David then flees to Gath and comes into contact with its King, Achish. Fearing death, he acts like a madman, foolish and wild, but free from bodily harm.
Fear inspired David into action, yes. But the result of that action was the death of "85 persons who wore the linen ephod" (1 Sam 23:5). He also reduced himself to acting insane. I can't help but imagine the shame David felt when he recalled those moments. Did his heart feel heavy knowing that he put those priests in danger? Did his foolishness in front of King Achish cause him to hang his head, muttering the words, "What was I thinking?"
Fear causes us to act out of character. We say, do, or act in ways that are not in step with who we are and what God has done through us. We are defensive, reserved, anger prone people when fear creeps in. So we say things, do things, or act in a way that dishonors our identity in Christ and dishonors those around us.
Shame is defined as, "a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior." I'd say that about sums up this moment in David's life. It may also sum up some moments in your life. Fear led to wrong or foolish behavior. That behavior may have hurt your or someone you care about. The pain you caused ushers in shame. Shame causes you to avoid relationships, suppress emotions, carry feelings of worthlessness and anxiety, avoid risks, and lapse into unhealthy behaviors. Shame makes you look at yourself in a negative light and you begin believing the lie of the enemy; You'll never be more than your greatest mistake.
Fear. Wrong and Foolish Behavior. Shame.
David, however, understood God's role in the cycle. He blessed the Lord, boasted of the Lord, and praised the Lord. God delivered him from all his fears (or those who would cause the fear). The result? Radiance. Joy. Peace. All of those things wrapped up and projected from a face who basked in freedom.
Fear is a catalyst for all things foolish. I'm not talking about fight or flight circumstances. I'm talking about situations that keep you up at night which have never happened and may never happen. I'm talking about irrational fear that leads a person into the arms of an abusive spouse because they are afraid no one will ever love them. I'm talking about the entrepreneur who refuses to take a risk because he fears failure more than he desires to be obedient.
Fear will lead to infidelity, jealousy, manipulation, and more. But enough from me. Let's look at a few verses where fear is addressed in the Bible.
God doesn't want us to live in fear when living in obedience. (Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6)
Fear is not a spirit from God. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Perfect love and fear cannot co-exist. (1 John 4:18)
Fear is a trap. (Proverbs 29:25)
Fear is not part of our inheritance (Romans 8:15)
There are just as many associated with shame. The point is, if you find yourself feeling fearful, an irrational decision and the shame that ensues may not be far behind.
So I ask a very challenging question.
"Will God bless a decision made from fear?"
My opinion? No. If fear is not of God why would He ever bless it? It is opposite of His character. Will He redeem someone who made a bad decision based in fear? Yes. Will he remove our shame? Yes. Will he deliver us? Yes. Those are all after the fact.
I'm not saying we don't battle the feelings of fear and uncertainty. I'm declaring you DO NOT have to allow the fear to be the rudder of your life. Get in His presence, pray in the Holy Spirit, and command the fear to go. Far better to repeat this cycle than the cycle of fear and shame. Better to be a mess in His presence than a madman.