TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. What Not to Do

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Chapter 22  Part II

What Not to Do

To live a life of faith, we should ensure that we do not lack faith in God. As such we need to avoid things which hinder faith in God. Notably we should avoid doubt, fear, worry and trusting in other things. Some verses which encourage believers not to be afraid and not to worry are amongst the best-loved verses in the Bible.

Do Not Lack Faith

See also:

Do not be lacking in faith . . .

Matt 6:28-30  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? ▤ 

Matt 16:8-10  But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? ▤ 

After having twice witnessed Jesus liberally feed thousands of people from just a few loaves of bread, the disciples had no reason to be concerned about having no bread for themselves. Doing so showed a marked lack of faith (cf. Mark 4:37-40 ; Mark 9:18-19 ).

Mark 4:37-40  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” ▤ 

Mark 9:18-19  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” ▤ 

Jesus appears to be rebuking the disciples for their lack of faith revealed in them not being able to drive out the demon.

Mark 6:1-3, 6a  He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. ▤ 6And he marveled because of their unbelief. ▤ 

John 20:25-27  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” ▤ 

Mark 16:14  Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. ▤ 

Rom 4:20-21  No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. ▤ 

Abraham provides an excellent example of one who did not lack in trust/faith.

. . . Do not doubt

Matt 14:28-31  And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind,k he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” ▤ 

k Some manuscripts strong wind

Mark 11:23  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. ▤ 

As noted earlier in this chapter, such a “mountain” signifies a seemingly insurmountable difficulty, presumably primarily alluding to ones encountered in advancing God’s kingdom.

James 1:6-8  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ▤ 

Verse 8 implies that one who doubts in essence cannot make up his mind (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIrV, NLT), wavering between belief of sorts (as shown in asking) and unbelief (as shown in doubting).

1Ki 18:21  And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. ▤ 

The Israelites had displayed serious doubt or lack of faith in God, wavering between belief in God and belief in the false god Baal.

  • A request to overcome unbelief:

Mark 9:22-24  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24Immediately the father of the child cried outl and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” ▤ 

l Some manuscripts add with tears

Do not test or question God

See also:

We should not doubt and question such things as God’s wisdom, his power and his commitment to us. In doing so we in a sense “put God to the test”.

Ex 17:1-2, 7  All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” ▤ 7And he called the name of the place Massahm and Meribah,n because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” ▤ 

m Massah means testing

n Meribah means quarreling

By quarreling with Moses (v. 2) – God’s appointed leader – and questioning God’s commitment to them (v. 7), the Israelites were testing God, as they were in a sense challenging God – not to mention testing his patience. Note that although the Israelites tested God a number of times in the journey through the desert, this particular incident was at times singled out (cf. Deut 6:16 ; 9:22; 33:8; Ps 95:8-9 ).

Deut 6:16  You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. ▤ 

Ps 78:18-22  They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. ▤ 

Ps 95:7b-9  Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. ▤ 

Despite having seen God’s miraculous deeds in Egypt (v. 9b), the Israelites had often doubted God, questioning and quarrelling against him in their desert journey (cf. Ex 17:1-2, 7 ; Ps 78:18-22 ). As such, they had tested him, effectively challenging God to prove himself (v. 9).

1Cor 10:9  We must not put Christo to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, … ▤ 

o Some manuscripts the Lord

The reference is to an incident recorded in Numbers 21:4-7, where the people complained against God: “And the people became impatient on the way. 5And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” (vv. 4b-5)

Mal 2:17  You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” ▤ 

Mal 3:13-14  Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? ▤ 

Isa 45:9-12  “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? 10Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” 11Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?p 12I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. ▤ 

p A slight emendation yields will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands?

As the one who formed Israel (vv. 9-11) – indeed the maker of the whole earth, mankind and the heavens (v. 12) – the Israelites had no right to question what God chose to do regarding them (cf. Rom 9:20-21 ). Note that “children” (v. 11) appears to refer to Israel (cf. CEV; v. 10), which may also be the case with “the work of my hands” (v. 11) – although in the light of v. 12 the latter may refer to all creation.

Rom 9:20-21  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? ▤ 

With Isaiah 45:9-11 above and Isaiah 29:16 in view, Paul similarly asserts that we have no right to question God as if he were accountable for his actions, or as if there could be any doubts as to the appropriateness of what he does. Such questioning of God is not simply seeking an explanation, but is critical of his wisdom and character.

  • One should not presume to test God’s willingness or ability to fulfill his promises:

Matt 4:6-7  … and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” ▤ 

Lack of faith is associated with not obeying God

See also:

Lack of faith – not believing or trusting God – inevitably leads to disobedience.

Deut 9:23  And when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. ▤ 

2Ki 17:14-15  But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. ▤ 

One can infer from this that the people’s lack of belief (v. 14b) led them to be stubborn (v. 14a), disobedient and unfaithful (v. 15).

Ps 106:24-25  Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 25They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. ▤ 

Heb 3:18-19  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. ▤ 

This correlates unbelief (v. 19) with disobedience (v. 18).

  • A sinful, unbelieving heart leads one to turn away from God:

Heb 3:12  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. ▤ 

Lack of faith can have other detrimental effects

See also:

Isa 7:5-9  Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, 6“Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer itq for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7thus says the Lord God: “‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. 8For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. 9And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If your are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’” ▤ 

q Hebrew let us split it open

r The Hebrew for you is plural in verses 9, 13, 14

In v. 9b God warns Ahaz, the king of Judah, that if he did not firmly have faith in God’s promises (vv. 7-8) regarding the threatened invasion (vv. 5-6) failing to eventuate, he would “not last” (NASB; cf. AMP, CEV, NCV, NKJV).

Matt 13:57-58  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. ▤ 

Jesus’ power was not curtailed by people’s unbelief; rather he exercised it when belief/faith was shown. These verses illustrate that lack of faith can result in forfeiting blessings from Christ’s work in our lives.

Matt 14:28-31  And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind,s he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” ▤ 

s Some manuscripts strong wind

Matt 17:19-20  Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it [a demon] out?” 20He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”t ▤ 

t Some manuscripts insert verse 21: But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting

Lack of faith can even bring God’s punishment

Note that most of the following verses speak of lack of faith in terms of not believing or not trusting God.

Heb 10:38-39  … but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. ▤ 

By speaking of shrinking back, in view of v. 38a and v. 39b presumably the writer has in mind turning from living by faith, in conjunction with turning away from God. This leads to destruction.

Jude 1:5  Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who savedu a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. ▤ 

u Some manuscripts although you fully knew it, that the Lord who once saved

Num 14:11-12  And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” ▤ 

Note that later God forgave the people (cf. v. 20) – in response to Moses’ plea (cf. vv. 13-19).

Deut 1:32-36  Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, 33who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go. 34“And the Lord heard your words and was angered, and he swore, 35‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, 36except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’ ▤ 

Ps 78:21-22  Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. ▤ 

Ps 106:24-27  Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 25They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. 26Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, 27and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. ▤ 

Not having faith in God’s promises (v. 24) led to the people’s disobedience (v. 25), which in turn resulted in punishment (vv. 26-27).

Isa 30:15-17  For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returningv and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, 16and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. 17A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. ▤ 

v Or repentance

Verse 15 indicates that the people were unwilling to trust God. This led to their punishment, punishment that matched their rebellious intentions (vv. 16-17).

Num 20:12  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” ▤ 

  • Zechariah’s lack of belief resulted in him being made temporarily dumb:

Luke 1:19-20  And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Do Not Be Afraid (I): Instructions

To limit the number of duplicated verses, the references in this and the following section have been grouped according to what was considered to be the most prominent point in each one. Many also have points that qualify them for one or more of the other subsections as well.

Do not be afraid . . .

See also:

Isa 54:4  Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. ▤ 

This promise was made to Jerusalem regarding its time of future renewal.

Lam 3:55-57  I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; 56you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ 57You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ ▤ 

Ezek 2:6  And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.w Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. ▤ 

w Or on scorpion plants

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ▤ 

Acts 27:23-24a  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. ▤ 

1Pet 3:6b  And you are her [Sarah’s] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. ▤ 

1Pet 3:14-15  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, … ▤ 

Rev 2:10  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ▤ 

. . . Do not be afraid or dismayed

See also:

Being “dismayed” means to be at least somewhat anxious and distressed – i.e. it is akin to being troubled.

Deut 1:21  See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed. ▤ 

1Chr 22:13b  Fear not; do not be dismayed. ▤ 

2Chr 20:15, 17  And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. ▤ 17You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” ▤ 

Isa 51:7  Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. ▤ 

Isa 7:4  And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. ▤ 

Despite their “fierce anger”, Judah’s enemies would prove to be little more than “smoldering stubs of firewood” (NIV®), as the subsequent prophecy explained (cf. vv. 7-9).

Jer 51:46  Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful at the report heard in the land, when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, and ruler is against ruler. ▤ 

Eph 3:13  So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. ▤ 

Paul’s sufferings were instigated by the Jews largely in response to his work in taking the gospel to the Gentiles. So he was suffering because of what he had done for them. The last clause may mean that his sufferings brought them glory, the glory resulting from being in God’s kingdom.

  • A godly life counteracts fear:

Job 11:13-15, 18-19  [Zophar:] “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. 14If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. 15Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. ▤ 18And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. 19You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. ▤ 

Most of this was inappropriately spoken to Job in his predicament, but largely it does have merit as a generalization.

Do not be afraid – have faith in God and Jesus Christ, trusting in them

2Chr 20:17b, 20  Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” ▤ 20And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” ▤ 

Matt 8:24-26  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. ▤ 

Heb 11:23, 27  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. ▤ 27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. ▤ 

Mark 5:36b  “Do not fear, only believe.” ▤ 

Luke 8:49-50  While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” ▤ 

Acts 27:23-25  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. ▤ 

Ps 56:3-4, 10-11  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? ▤ 10In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? ▤ 

Isa 12:2  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord Godx is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” ▤ 

x Hebrew for Yah, the Lord

John 14:1  Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;y believe also in me. ▤ 

y Or You believe in God

Ps 112:7-8  He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. 8His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. ▤ 

As is also suggested by at least some of the above verses, this and Jeremiah 17:7-8 below clearly indicate that trusting God naturally results in having no fear.

Jer 17:7-8  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” ▤ 

Do not be afraid – be confident and bold

2Chr 32:7-8  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. ▤ 

Ps 27:3, 13  Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yetz I will be confident. ▤ 13I believea that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! ▤ 

z Or in this

a Other Hebrew manuscripts Oh! Had I not believed

Confidence is specifically mentioned in v. 3 and clearly exemplified in v. 13.

Prov 3:25-26  Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruinb of the wicked, when it comes, 26for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. ▤ 

b Hebrew storm

Heb 13:6  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” ▤ 

Prov 28:1  The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. ▤ 

Although this and the following verses do not specifically mention not being afraid, it is implicit in their references to being bold.

2Cor 3:12  Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, … ▤ 

Acts 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. ▤ 

Ps 138:3  On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.c ▤ 

c Hebrew you made me bold in my soul with strength

As suggested by the text note, boldness may well be in view (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV).

  • God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power:

2Tim 1:7-8  … for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, … ▤ 

God does not give us a spirit of fear or cowardice, but rather one of power – enabling us to unashamedly and fearlessly testify for Christ (v. 8).

Do not be afraid – be strong and courageous . . .

See also:

Josh 10:25  And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” ▤ 

1Chr 22:13  Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. ▤ 

Isa 35:3-4  Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” ▤ 

Josh 1:6-7, 9, 18  Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good successd wherever you go. ▤ 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ▤ 18Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous. ▤ 

d Or may act wisely

Judg 5:21  The torrent Kishon swept them away, the ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might! ▤ 

Deborah speaks here in the context of God’s deliverance, exemplarily urging herself to forge onwards in the face of any difficulties, with strength (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV) or courage (cf. CEV, NLT). Note that Kishon was a stream that at times became a torrent.

2Sam 2:7  Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them. ▤ 

1Ki 2:2  I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, … ▤ 

Prov 24:10  If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. ▤ 

This is in effect an exhortation to be strong amidst trouble.

1Cor 16:13  Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. ▤ 

Ps 27:14  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! ▤ 

Ps 31:24  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! ▤ 

Matt 14:27  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” ▤ 

“Take heart” is akin to: “Take courage!” (NIV®; cf. GNT, NCV).

Acts 23:11  The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” ▤ 

2Cor 5:4-8  For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. ▤ 

Paul’s faith in God’s purpose for him in the afterlife (vv. 4-5a) was reinforced by the presence of the Holy Spirit, effectively guaranteeing this (v. 5b). All this gave him reason to be “always of good courage” (v. 6; cf. v. 8) in his life of faith (v. 7).

Phil 1:20  … as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. ▤ 

. . . Look to God and Jesus Christ for your strength

See also:

1Sam 30:6  And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul,e each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. ▤ 

e Compare 22:2

1Chr 16:11  Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! ▤ 

Ps 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strengthf of my heart and my portion forever. ▤ 

f Hebrew rock

Ps 84:5, 7  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. ▤ 7They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. ▤ 

g Hebrew lacks to Zion

Verse 7 speaks of the pilgrims growing stronger as they continue on the journey and draw near to their goal – appearing before God in Jerusalem.

Eph 6:10-11  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. ▤ 

Note that what “the whole armor of God” entails is expounded in the subsequent verses (cf. vv. 14-18).

2Tim 2:1  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, … ▤ 

Most likely this is speaking of believers finding their strength in God’s grace, in their union with Jesus Christ (cf. GNT).

Heb 13:9  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. ▤ 

Look to God’s grace for strength (cf. 2Tim 2:1 ).

  • The angel’s exhortation to be strong and his corresponding strengthening of Daniel:

Dan 10:19  And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” ▤ 

Do not even be afraid of death

See also:

Matt 10:28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.h ▤ 

h Greek Gehenna

Rev 2:10  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ▤ 

The exhortation to not be afraid coupled with the latter reference to death, points to the fact that we should not be afraid of death.

Phil 1:20  … as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. ▤ 

Paul’s courage reflects fearlessness in the face of the prospect of death.

Heb 2:14-15  Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. ▤ 

This indicates that – among other things – Jesus Christ has freed us from fear of death (cf. Jesus Christ saves people from the power of death).

Ps 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,i I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ▤ 

i Or the valley of deep darkness

David is probably meaning here that he does not fear being killed because God will protect him from this occurring. But the verse can be applied or extended to the teaching that when death threatens, God’s people should not fear even should it eventuate. Regarding the alternative rendering in the text note, “the valley of deep darkness” is applicable to any dark times.

  • Death cannot separate us from God’s love:

Rom 8:38-39  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Do Not Be Afraid (II): Reasons

God is far more powerful than our enemies

See also:

2Chr 32:7-8  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. ▤ 

Deut 7:17-19, 21  If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ 18you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So will the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. ▤ 21You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. ▤ 

Neh 4:11, 14  And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” ▤ 14And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” ▤ 

As above in Deuteronomy 7:21, the description of God as “great and awesome” implies that he is far more so than our enemies.

2Ki 19:6-7  Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’” ▤ 

The blasphemous “words” (v. 6) were spoken in ch. 18, particularly v. 35 – ‘Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ These words are emphatically refuted by Isaiah’s prophecy (v. 7) and its fulfillment (cf. vv. 35-37) – showing that God was indeed far more powerful than the previously all-conquering king of Assyria and his forces.

Ps 56:4, 10-11  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? ▤ 10In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? ▤ 

The term “flesh” (v. 4) points to the limitations of human enemies in contrast to almighty God (cf. Isa 51:7-8, 12-13 ).

Isa 51:7-8, 12-13  “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. 8For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” ▤ 12“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, 13and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor? ▤ 

The final question is implying either that the “wrath of the oppressor” was negligible compared to God’s power or that it had been removed.

2Ki 6:15-17  When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. ▤ 

Verse 17 tells of Elisha’s servant being enabled to see the surrounding, insurmountable heavenly forces – the “horses and chariots of fire”. In conjunction with God’s supreme power over our enemies, the forces of God are far more powerful than our enemies. Thus we should not be afraid of any adversary (v. 16).

  • Believers should take heart as Jesus Christ has overcome the world:

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ▤ 

Although the world causes Jesus Christ’s followers trouble, they should take courage because in him – the one who has overcome the world – they have peace amidst the trouble. Note that as Jesus said this in the hours prior to his death, it is quite possibly a reference to his death and subsequent resurrection – by which he triumphed over all that is evil in the world.

God is always with his people

See also:

Note that most of the following verses make reference to associated benefits of God’s presence, which further show why God being with his people is reason not to be afraid.

Josh 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ▤ 

Deut 31:6-8  Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” 7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ▤ 

Verse 8 shows that not only is God is always with his people, he also goes ahead of them, effectively preparing their upcoming circumstances before they encounter them. Note that in v. 6 Moses is addressing all the Israelites, before addressing Joshua in particular in vv. 7-8.

Num 14:9  Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them. ▤ 

Deut 20:1-4  When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 3and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. ▤ 

1Chr 28:20  Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. ▤ 

Ps 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,j I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ▤ 

j Or the valley of deep darkness

Jer 1:7-8, 19  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” ▤ 19They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” ▤ 

Zeph 3:14-17  Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. 16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. ▤ 

Note that this passage has an eschatological context.

Hag 2:4-5  Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. ▤ 

Acts 18:9-10  And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” ▤ 

God helps his people

See also:

Ps 46:1-3  God is our refuge and strength, a very presentk help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah ▤ 

k Or well proved

Ps 118:6-7  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. ▤ 

Isa 41:9-14  … you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; 10fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 12You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. 13For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 14Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. ▤ 

Heb 13:6  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” ▤ 

Deut 1:29-31  Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. 30The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ ▤ 

God would help the Israelites by fighting for them (vv. 30-31a). As well as previously fighting for them (and delivering them), God had also helped them before by carrying them through the difficult desert journey (v. 31b) which had involved additional difficulties. As such God’s past help gave credence to his promise of future decisive help, giving the Israelites good reason not to be terrified or afraid of their enemies (v. 29).

Josh 8:1  And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. ▤ 

Here God promises to help his people, promising to give their enemies into their hands (cf. Josh 10:8 ; Josh 11:4-8 ).

Josh 10:8  And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” ▤ 

Josh 11:4-8  And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel. 6And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all his warriors came suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. 8And the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. ▤ 

2Chr 20:15-17  And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” ▤ 

The people were not to be afraid as the battle belonged to God (v. 15b) – it depended on him (cf. GNT) and he, not them, would fight it (cf. CEV; v. 17).

  • Recognition of God’s help when facing enemies – resulting in confidence and a call to trust him:

Isa 50:6-10  I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. 7But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. 8He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 9Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. 10Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. ▤ 

Each of vv. 7-9 begins with a statement acknowledging God’s help, which is then followed by resulting expressions of confidence. The phrase “in darkness” (v. 10) is most likely a reference to troubled times, but note that some interpret it to refer to spiritual darkness.

God saves his people

See also:

Ex 14:13-14  And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ▤ 

The final clause may well be an exhortation to stay calm – akin to not being afraid (v. 13a).

Ps 27:1a  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? ▤ 

Isa 35:3-4  Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” ▤ 

Isa 43:1  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. ▤ 

Jer 30:10-11a  “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. 11For I am with you to save you, declares the Lord; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. ▤ 

Jer 42:11  Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. ▤ 

Isa 12:2  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord Godl is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” ▤ 

l Hebrew for Yah, the Lord

Zeph 3:16-17  On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. ▤ 

Zec 8:13  And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong. ▤ 

Isa 10:24-25, 27  Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. 25For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. ▤ 27And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”m ▤ 

m The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain

  • Paul’s call to those who sailed with him to take heart, for God would save them:

Acts 27:20-25, 34, 43b-44  When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. 21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. ▤ 34Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” ▤ 43… He [the centurion] ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. ▤ 

God is a refuge for his people, protecting them

See also:

Ps 46:1-3  God is our refuge and strength, a very presentn help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah ▤ 

n Or well proved

Ps 3:3-6  But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 5I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. ▤ 

God’s protection is apparent in not only v. 3a but also in v. 5 (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT). As such, David does not fear his thousands of surrounding enemies (v. 6).

Ps 27:1-5  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strongholdo of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. 3Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yetp I will be confident. 4One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquireq in his temple. 5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. ▤ 

o Or refuge

p Or in this

q Or meditate

Because God was the stronghold of his life (v. 1b), David found refuge in God’s house (vv. 4-5), which signified God’s presence.

Ps 91:1-7  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will sayr to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. ▤ 

r Septuagint He will say

God’s promised blessings

Gen 15:1  After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” ▤ 

Abraham (then called Abram) had no reason to fear because not only would God shield him, he would also greatly reward him (cf. Gen 26:24 ).

Gen 26:24  And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” ▤ 

Isa 44:2-4  Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 3For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. ▤ 

This has a number of applications or stages of fulfillment. Probably initially it referred to the exiles returning to the land of Israel from Babylon. Particularly with the reference to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, it pertains to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and to believers in general. As such it portrays the new life that the Holy Spirit brings to believers. It is often understood to also look ahead to a renewed Israel for its final fulfillment. Such promises of renewal give reason not to fear.

Joel 2:22  Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. ▤ 

Although the tense is present, this may be for effect as the then near future is more likely in view (cf. v. 20; NLT). As such this verse was a promise, somewhat poetically made to the animals, readily applicable to the people.

Zec 8:14-15  For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, 15so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not. ▤ 

The giving of these promises of future blessing was to encourage the returned exiles to not be afraid but to complete the rebuilding of the temple (cf. v. 9).

Luke 12:32  Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. ▤ 

Although they appeared vulnerable like a “little flock”, the disciples were to inherit the kingdom, with the associated authority. As this was their destiny, there was no need to be afraid of what might be encountered in the meantime.

Further reasons to not be afraid

Ps 49:5-9, 16-17  Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9that he should live on forever and never see the pit. ▤ 16Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. ▤ 

The basic thrust of these verses is that we should not fear if threatened by wicked people with wealth and resources, for in spite of their riches they will die. As such their power and wealth is short lived, counting for nothing in the long-term.

Isa 43:1-5  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. 5Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. ▤ 

The “waters”, “rivers” and “fire” are metaphors for danger – possibly alluding to the crossings of the Red Sea and the Jordan, and the fiery furnace (cf. Dan 3). The giving of nations for their ransom (vv. 3-4) likely refers to God allowing Persia to conquer these nations in return for its good treatment of Israel. There is a number of reasons given or evident here as to why the people should not fear, including some given in the preceding subsections. Further reasons given here are: they are God’s people (v. 1b); they are precious and honored in God’s sight (v. 4a); and God loves them (v. 4a).

Isa 44:8  Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any. ▤ 

God’s proclaiming of the future gives reason not to be afraid, for it reflects the fact that God has ordained what will happen.

Joel 2:21  Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! ▤ 

Luke 12:6-7  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?s And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. ▤ 

s Greek two assaria; an assarion was a Roman copper coin worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day’s wage for a laborer)

  • Amidst any crisis, be still and recognize God’s sovereignty:

Ps 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” ▤ 

Somewhat similarly Isaiah 41:10a says, “… be not dismayed, for I am your God.”

Note: Being afraid has grave consequences

See also:

Deut 1:29, 32-35  Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. ▤ 32Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, 33who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go. 34“And the Lord heard your words and was angered, and he swore, 35‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, … ▤ 

This implies the people continued in their fear instead of believing God (vv. 29, 32) – bringing God’s anger and punishment (vv. 34-35).

Prov 29:25  The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. ▤ 

The fear of people is a trap that can bring you trouble (cf. NCV, NLT).

Isa 57:11-13a  Whom did you dread and fear, so that you lied, and did not remember me, did not lay it to heart? Have I not held my peace, even for a long time, and you do not fear me? 12I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not profit you. 13When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. ▤ 

Fear of others led the Israelites to forget God and be unfaithful, which in turn resulted in God’s punishment of them. In v. 12 “righteousness” is used with irony; they either wrongly saw themselves as righteous, or pretended to be so.

Jer 1:17  But you, dress yourself for work;t arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. ▤ 

t Hebrew gird up your loins

Pray for persecuted Christians

Do Not Worry

Do not worry – trust God with your concerns . . .

See also:

John 14:1  Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;u believe also in me. ▤ 

u Or You believe in God

Such belief involves trust (cf. AMP, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Phil 4:5b-7  The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

In counteracting worry, we should not overlook the role of thanksgiving (v. 6). Being thankful for what we have – particularly all we have in Christ – puts difficult circumstances into perspective. Also remembering and giving thanks for God’s help in the past prompts trust in current difficulties.

Ps 55:22  Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. ▤ 

1Pet 5:6-7  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ▤ 

. . . Ask God to provide for your needs

In contrast to worrying about our physical needs, we should ask God to provide for them.

Luke 11:2-3  And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread,v … ▤ 

v Or our bread for tomorrow

Matt 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread,w … ▤ 

w Or our bread for tomorrow

Prov 30:8  Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, … ▤ 

Zec 10:1  Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field. ▤ 

As alluded to in the latter part of the verse, such a request for rain primarily has in view the need of rain for growing crops. As such it is essentially a prayer for the provision of physical needs.

  • Those who trust in God are not fearful or anxious:

Jer 17:7-8  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” ▤ 

Do not worry about the cares of this life for God will provide; focus instead on things of God

Matt 6:25-34  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?x 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ▤ 

x Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

Verse 25b is saying that there are far more important things to life than food and clothing, so to worry about such things indicates a lack of perspective. It also could be implying that as God has given us life and a body, surely he will provide the much lesser things of food and clothing. The clause “for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (v. 34) may mean that tomorrow “will take care of itself” (CEV) – possibly implying that perceived worries about tomorrow may well not even eventuate. Alternatively if may mean that tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own, so there is no reason to add to them by worrying about other possible troubles beforehand. The final statement has a similar thought – “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NCV™, NIV)

Mark 8:14-21  Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”y 16And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” ▤ 

y Some manuscripts the Herodians

The disciples seemingly were too focused on or worried about the problem of not having enough bread, to understand Jesus’ warning against the contaminating disbelief and ungodliness of the Pharisees and Herod (v. 15). Jesus’ rebuke (vv. 17-21) appears to be aimed at their preoccupation with worldly matters, such as a lack of bread, despite witnessing Jesus miraculously providing food for thousands. Such a persisting, worldly focus showed that they still did not comprehend or take to heart things Jesus was showing them – such as his ability to provide for them.

Luke 10:38-42  Now as they went on their way, Jesusz entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary.a Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ▤ 

z Greek he

a Some manuscripts few things are necessary, or only one

Martha was overly concerned with providing hospitality, possibly doing more than was necessary. In contrast Mary had chosen to spend time listening to Jesus – rightly a higher priority.

The futility and dangers of worrying about the cares of this life

See also:

Luke 12:25-26  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?b 26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? ▤ 

b Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

Eccl 2:22-23  What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. ▤ 

The phrase “striving of heart” (v. 22) and much of v. 23 point to the worry that so often accompanies people’s work. This is often the case when our work and the goals of our labor become the main focus of our lives. Spending all our days in such toil (v. 23), is a pointless existence – ultimately futile and even harmful.

Matt 13:22  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. ▤ 

Being worried and preoccupied with the cares of this life can “crowd out” the place of God’s word and his kingdom in our lives, choking the effect of God’s word in our lives.

Luke 21:27, 34  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. ▤ 34“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. ▤ 

Prov 12:25  Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. ▤ 

In contrast 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh …”

  • Do not fret over success of the wicked for they will not last – and fretting only leads to evil:

Ps 37:1-2, 7-8  Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. ▤ 7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Do Not Trust in Other Things

Note that many of the verses or passages in this section not only say to not trust in other things, but also contrast the outcomes of trusting in other things with the outcomes of trusting in God.

Do not trust in other people, but rather trust in God . . .

Jer 17:5-8  Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,c whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” ▤ 

c Hebrew arm

Ps 40:4  Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! ▤ 

After saying that the one who trusts in God is blessed, the implication of the latter parts of the verse is that in contrast we should not rely on people – in particular the proud and those who follow “a lie”, likely referring to false gods (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV).

Ps 118:8-9  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. ▤ 

Isa 10:20  In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. ▤ 

Israel had relied on the Assyrians who in fact ended up turning on Israel and crushing her.

2Chr 16:7-9  At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. 8Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. 9For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” ▤ 

Previously the king of Syria had been allied with Baasha, the king of Israel, who was attacking Asa. But Asa sent gold and silver to the king of Syria to get the king to make a treaty with him instead – thus demonstrating a reliance on the king of Aram. So what Hanani is meaning in v. 7 is that if Asa had have rather relied on God, God would have given over to Asa not only Israel but also her ally at that time, the king of Syria.

. . . People are not worth trusting in

See also:

Ps 60:11-12  Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! 12With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. ▤ 

The second clause of v. 11 is basically saying that human help is useless – in contrast to that of God (v. 12).

Ps 146:3-4  Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 4When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. ▤ 

Isa 2:22  Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? ▤ 

Here Isaiah calls on the people to: “Stop trusting in man” (NIV®; cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

2Ki 18:21  Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. ▤ 

Note that these are actually the words of the Assyrian king, who also denounces Hezekiah’s trust in God (cf. v. 22); but the point he makes here about the undependability of Egypt is valid.

Isa 20:3-6  Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush,d 4so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. 5Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. 6And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’” ▤ 

d Probably Nubia

Trusting in Cush and Egypt for protection against Assyria would prove futile, even disastrous. Verses 5-6 are speaking of the coastal nations who put their hope and trust in Cush and Egypt, probably the Philistines (cf. NLT, CEV text note), but Judah may also be in view. For it is to Judah that this warning against making such alliances is primarily given.

Isa 30:1-3  “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance,e but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation. ▤ 

e Hebrew who weave a web

Jer 2:36b-37  You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria. 37From it too you will come away with your hands on your head, for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them. ▤ 

John 2:23-25  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ▤ 

Jesus did not entrust himself to these people for he knew how fickle people can be, here in particular ones who had a shallow faith based only on miracles.

Prov 25:19  Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips. ▤ 

Do not trust in yourself

Prov 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. ▤ 

Prov 28:26  Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. ▤ 

Ps 49:13-14  This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.f Selah 14Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. ▤ 

f Or and of those after them who approve of their boasts

In v. 13, “those who have foolish confidence” appear to be people who foolishly “trust in themselves” (GNT, NCV, NIV). In v. 14, “the upright shall rule over them in the morning” probably refers to the triumph of the upright over those who had trusted in themselves, lying in the grave below (cf. CEV, GNT), with “the morning” alluding to the passing of the darkness of the period of their power. But note that some commentators interpret “the morning” to refer to life beyond the grave.

Ezek 16:15  But you trusted in your beauty and played the whoreg because of your renown and lavished your whoringsh on any passerby; your beautyi became his. ▤ 

g Or were unfaithful; also verses 16, 17, 26, 28

h Or unfaithfulness; also verses 20, 22, 25, 26, 29, 33, 34, 36

i Hebrew it

Jerusalem’s “beauty” was largely in her fame and riches. Her trust in these was manifested in making ungodly alliances with nations, which often included payment for protection and the seal of intermarriage with foreign princesses, who brought idolatry. Note that the consequences of Jerusalem’s actions are given later in Ezekiel 16, particularly in vv. 36-43.

Ezek 33:13  Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. ▤ 

When such a righteous man esteems his own righteousness and begins trusting in it, he then becomes self-righteous – which leads to evil and the resulting punishment.

Hos 10:13-14  You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors, 14therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. ▤ 

2Cor 1:8-10  For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,j of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. ▤ 

j Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Do not trust in riches

Prov 11:28  Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. ▤ 

Job 15:29-31  … he will not be rich, and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the earth;k 30he will not depart from darkness; the flame will dry up his shoots, and by the breath of his mouth he will depart. 31Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself, for emptiness will be his payment. ▤ 

k Or nor will his produce bend down to the earth

The reference to riches and wealth not enduring in v. 29, make it likely that in v. 31 trusting in “empty riches” (NLT) is in view.

Job 31:24, 28  If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, ▤ 28this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above. ▤ 

Ps 49:5-6, 10  Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? ▤ 10For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. ▤ 

In the final analysis there is no point trusting in riches – or fearing those who do – for in the end all people die and then whatever wealth they may have is useless to them.

Ps 52:5-7  But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7“See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”l ▤ 

l Or in his work of destruction

Note that there are a number of interpretations of “his own destruction” (v. 7), including that given in the alternative rendering in the text note and the possibility that it also refers to riches (cf. NRSV) as that which was at the root of his destruction.

Jer 49:4-5  Why do you boast of your valleys,m O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’ 5Behold, I will bring terror upon you, declares the Lord God of hosts, from all who are around you, and you shall be driven out, every man straight before him, with none to gather the fugitives. ▤ 

m Hebrew boast of your valleys, your valley flows

1Tim 6:17  As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. ▤ 

Putting one’s hope in riches is akin to trusting in them – and likewise should be avoided.

  • It is very hard for one who trusts in riches to enter God’s kingdom:

Mark 10:24-25  And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it isn to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” ▤ 

n Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches

Note that the text note expressly refers to trusting in riches, which would appear to be in view (cf. AMP, CEV, NKJV, NLT).

Do not trust in worldly power

Isa 31:1  Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! ▤ 

As reflected here, the earlier references to powerful Egypt in . . . People are not worth trusting in, also illustrate misplaced trust in worldly power. Note that such reliance on horses and chariots (cf. Ps 20:7-8 ) might also be in view in Deuteronomy 17:16, with the directive that any Israelite king “… must not acquire many horses for himself …”

Ps 20:7-8  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. ▤ 

Ps 44:6-7  For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. 7But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. ▤ 

Verse 7 implies that the psalmist trusted in God, rather than weapons (v. 6).

Ezek 33:26  You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife; shall you then possess the land? ▤ 

Hos 10:13-14  You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors, 14therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. ▤ 

Jer 5:17  They shall eat up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; your fortified cities in which you trust they shall beat down with the sword. ▤ 

  • Do not trust in your own deeds:

Jer 48:7  For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken; and Chemosh shall go into exile with his priests and his officials. ▤ 

Here “works” could be referring to Moab’s materialistic “achievements” (NASB) or to its “power” (CEV, cf. GNT). As such, from this verse it can be construed that we should not trust in what we have accomplished – nor in the power (or wisdom) we have shown in achieving these accomplishments.

Do not trust in wickedness

Ps 62:10  Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. ▤ 

Isa 28:15-17  Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; 16therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laido as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ 17And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” ▤ 

o Dead Sea Scroll I am laying

The references in v. 15 to making lies and falsehood a “refuge” and a “shelter” respectively, signify trust in them (cf. Isa 59:4 ; Jer 7:4, 8 ).

Isa 59:4  No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. ▤ 

This suggests a reliance on false, hollow arguments.

Isa 47:9-11  These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day; the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and the great power of your enchantments. 10You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” 11But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing. ▤ 

“You felt secure in your wickedness” (v. 10a) indicates that Babylon “trusted in … wickedness” (AMP, NIV, NKJV). Note that v. 10 shows that Babylon’s reliance on its wisdom and knowledge was also a contributing factor to its downfall.

Job 8:13-15  Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. 14His confidence is severed, and his trust is a spider’s web.p 15He leans against his house, but it does not stand; he lays hold of it, but it does not endure. ▤ 

p Hebrew house

Just what the “web” (v. 14) or “house” (v. 14 text note, v. 15) represents – as the object of the godless person’s trust – is not actually stated. Whatever it may represent, the point is clear: the godless or wicked (cf. NCV) have nothing worth trusting in.

  • God’s house is not to be trusted in as a safe-haven for wickedness:

Jer 7:4, 8-11, 14  Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ ▤ 8“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. 9Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. ▤ 14therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. ▤ 

The temple – or access to it – was not in itself something that could be depended upon (v. 14) to render approval and safety before God (v. 10), while one committed great sin (v. 9). Deceptive words propagating this belief likewise were not to be trusted (vv. 4, 8).

Do not trust in idols

Ps 135:15-18  The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 16They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; 17they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. 18Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! ▤ 

Isa 42:17  They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.” ▤ 

Jer 13:24-25  I will scatter youq like chaff driven by the wind from the desert. 25This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies. ▤ 

q Hebrew them

Here “lies” appears to allude to false gods (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Jer 48:13  Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence. ▤ 

Moab would learn that putting their trust or confidence in its god Chemosh would prove as futile as the Israelites’ trust in their two golden calves (alluded to here by the reference to Bethel, the location of one of the calves).

Hab 2:18  What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! ▤ 

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