Ever stop and think… why would the Lord, strong and mighty, wait patiently for the doors to open?
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! – (Psa 24:7-8 ESV)
It’s okay to run away. It’s okay to hide. It’s okay to make yourself scarce when you know you are outmatched. It’s more than okay, it’s biblical.
”The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)
Just in case you need to hear it again, it’s right there in the book of Proverbs one more time.
”The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)
Hiding from danger may not be considered very brave, but it is wise.
Consider David. A king. A warrior. A man of valor. Armed with only a couple river rocks and a sling, he charged toward a nearly ten foot tall behemoth who was wielding a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s beam. Killed the monster in one shot. Cut off his head with his own sword. Yet he spent the next several years hiding in caves from King Saul who couldn’t hit the broad side of a castle with his spear if he wanted to.
But after Saul died, David took the kingdom. He lead his country with a strong arm. Victorious in battle again and again, he established his reign. But then his own son got a little cheeky. Stormed the castle with a couple hundred men. So David ran away again. Hiding in caves must have been kind of reminiscent to him.
But I don’t think David was a coward. I think David was wise. I think David was prudent. When David saw danger, he took cover. Not always, but when it was the right thing to do.
You and I have every reason to be brave. We’re told to…
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
“Stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
And yet we’re also told to…
“Flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
“Flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
“Flee youthful passions.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
There’s no need to prove yourself. Run away. Stay away. Hide. The simple go on without a care. They think they can handle themselves.
Don’t be that guy.
Better to be considered a coward and live than to die a fool.
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
Not afraid of bad news
Bad news is inevitable. It is not a matter of if it comes but when. The one who fears the Lord (v.1) will not be afraid.
- Proverbs 3:25-26; Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
- Jeremiah 17:7-8; Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He 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.
- Psalms 46:1-2; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
His heart is firm…his heart is steady
The word translated here as firm means stable, established, set up, secure. Steady means to lean, lay upon, rest, uphold, sustain.
The one who fears the Lord is strengthened day by day yet will always lean upon Him who strengthens it. His heart is made firm but never with the intention to endure suffering alone.
- Psalms 73:26; My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
- Isaiah 40:28-31; Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
- Deuteronomy 33:26-27;There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Oh, let us fear the Lord! Let us trust in Him when bad news comes, trusting Him to sustain us, leaning on His everlasting arms.
Mighty are those who would destroy me.
We are weak. Our enemies are strong. Without the Lord—if he were not on our side—we would be consumed.
- Psalm 18:17; He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.
- Psalm 142:6; Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
Those who would
We ought to consider who our enemies really are. Whether troubles come as a result of circumstance, deliberate cruelty of another person, or the unintentional actions of a brother, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.
- 1 Peter 5:8; Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Think soberly about the ambition of the devil. He is persistent. He is subtle. He is devoted to your destruction. And, he is very real.
- John 10:10; The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” [read context]
In all circumstances
No matter what Satan throws at us in the form of temptation or trial, Paul reveals to us the secret to quenching his flaming darts: faith.
- 1 John 2:16; “For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.”
- 1 John 5:4-5; “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
The world is full of temptation–that will never change. You can’t isolate yourself from sin, and even if you did, your heart will still betray you. The victory that overcomes the world and its lusts is faith. We place our faith in Jesus Christ and are born-again. This faith not only gives us life but sustains in it as well. “The righteous live by faith.”
In every circumstance we quench the devil’s flaming darts by faith.
Search the internet for self-help advice concerning addiction. You’ll read a lot about willpower, you’ll read a lot about accountability, you’ll read a lot about ways to distract yourself or change your habits. What you won’t likely see is this simple solution: put your faith in God–trust the Lord.
The reason you won’t see this is because trusting the Lord is not self-help. People want to fix things themselves; they don’t want to give up control. Faith doesn’t depend on our methods but on God.
Faith is trusting Him who gave us these promises:
- Philippians 1:6; “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:13; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- Psalm 121:7; “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.”
The shield of faith
Now, any warrior would tell you, when you are in battle you should carry your shield at all times. In other words, don’t wait till the enemy shoots his darts. Always be ready.
As Christians, we need to strengthen our faith before we are tempted.
How do we strengthen our faith?
- Romans 10:17; “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
The Lord’s word; specifically the bible–and even more specifically, the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed throughout the entire bible–will grow and strengthen our faith.
- Romans 16:25-27; “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
As we read the Word of God we are edified. We are built up and encouraged. We are prepared to defend ourselves within this spiritual battle we wage. We will be ready in every circumstance of life, when Satan hurls his flaming darts our direction, to take up the shield of faith, placing our trust, not in ourselves, but in the Lord.
“Fear 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.”
In Psalm 124, David said, “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side–let Israel now say–if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive;” Psalms 124:1-3. If the Lord was not with us, we would have every reason to sink with dismay; we would have every reason to be disquieted, to be disheartened, to feel dejected, to lose our courage. Without God, we would be swallowed alive.
- Psalms 40:11-13; “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!”
He is a very present help in trouble. We can run to Him and be safe. We may approach His throne of grace freely and with boldness in our time of need. He is with us to strengthen us, to help us, to uphold us with His righteous right hand.
- Psalms 56:1-4; “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
- Psalms 56:10-13; “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
- Psalms 27:1-5; “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One 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 inquire in his temple. For 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.”
In Jesus Christ we have assurance of God’s perpetual presence. We have the covenant sealed in His blood: the forgiveness of sins, life everlasting. We stand justified–innocent, righteous–before Him and completely sure that He will never abandon us. He who did not withhold His only Son to purchase our redemption–He who did not withhold His only Son in order to reconcile us to Himself–how shall He glibly forsake the sheep of His fold? We know God is for us; so then, who can be against us?
- Romans 8:31-39; “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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.”
Fear not, He is with us. He is our God. He will strengthen us. He will help us. He will uphold us.
“Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”
A rock of refuge
God is a shield for us, a very present help in time of trouble. He is a Rock, a fortress, a mighty God able to protect us and defend us.
- Psalms 31:2-5 “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.”
- Psalms 91:1-4 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”
- Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
- Psalms 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
- Psalms 18:2-6 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”
- Psalms 144:2 “He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”
To which I may continually come
The refuge we take in the Lord is inexhaustible. The dwelling place we have in God is permanent. He invites us to come to Him without end. He wants to gather us under His wings and is always available for us to approach and be safe.
Once we come to put our faith in Christ, our life is hidden in Him forever. We are under the shadow of His wings and eternally safe. We continually reside in His refuge. We are safe from the condemnation of the devil, the law, the accusations of man, and the accusations of our own conscience. His blood has purchased for us an everlasting, continual salvation wherein we may always take refuge.
- Colossians 3:3 “For you have died [been crucified with Christ], and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
- Hebrews 9:12 “[Jesus] entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”
- Romans 8:33-39 “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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.”
Continue to abide in Him
Jesus is an everlasting refuge for us. Let us continue to abide in Him. Let us not shrink back but continue to live by faith in Him.
- John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”
- John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
- John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
- 1 John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”