I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NASB
Fears – Have any of your really bad dreams turned out to be real? Do you sometimes feel as if you are living in a nightmare? Even a cursory look at human history will convince you that terrors are a lot more than psychosomatic. That’s why we need to know that this Hebrew word is not the usual one for “fear.” Usually we find yārēʾ, a word that runs the gamut from being afraid of things like lightning to awe and respect for the one true God. But here David chooses another word; a word that moves us out of the realm of those fears that have a specific object to something far more terrifying, that is, terror itself.
David chooses mĕgurôt. The root is gûr which means “great dread, terror, horror.” This is more than worrying about tomorrow’s weather. This is a nightmare turned into a daylight trauma. Your worst fears coming true. Maybe you can handle the ordinary worries of life. Maybe you can rise to the occasion when something unexpected presents itself, but when it comes to terror, no one is really ready. Once in awhile we get an inkling of what might happen, and we know it would overwhelm us.
That’s why David turns these things over to God. He will deliver us from all those nightmares. Once again David chooses his word carefully. This is not a “salvation” word. Instead of yasha’, David uses the Hiphil perfect form of nasa’. Cognates demonstrate that the principal idea behind this word is to draw out or escape. This is physical deliverance, a rescue operation in the real world. The nightmare might have started in the psychological depths but God’s response comes in the daylight. While the word has spiritual overtones and connections, its home is in the physical reality of day-to-day living.
I have fears. I imagine you do too. Some fears are quite useful. I am afraid of getting burned so I pay close attention to hot things. But some things just scare me to death. Things like being afraid that in the end God won’t find me acceptable (yes, I know the theology but it doesn’t take away the terror). These things I have to give to God. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that they will suddenly evaporate from my life. It just means that I have confidence that He will rescue me, that when it comes to the terror in the night He will somehow find a way to pull me out, that I will wake up before I die in my dream.
David had some real enemies. Maybe you do too, but I suspect that the worst of all terrors come from deep inside of us. We are powerless over them because they reside in the darkest corners of our lives. They are mĕgurôt—and God is the only deliverer. Perhaps you and I need to fall on our faces and ask God to deliver us from our real terrors, the ones that arise from deep inside.
Topical Index: mĕgurôt, terrors, fear, Psalm 34:4