Tag Archives: Old Testament

Psalm 27:1

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? NIV

The other night, I saw “Facing the Giants.”  In it, the main character tells one of his football players that the Bible says “fear not,” 365 times.  So, this morning, I thought, “perhaps that is the source of what I had heard … that there were 365 reminders not to worry.”  It reminded me of that game telephone, where a bunch of children sit in a circle, and you whisper something in the first child’s ear and then each child whispers to the next one and ultimately what the last child hears is invariably different from what was initially said.  But, I have to say that I think worry and fear are synonyms in many cases, so the message didn’t get too garbled in this case.

I went in search of “fear nots,” in my concordance.

I am working from an NIV concordance, and there are lots of “fear” citations, but, I got all the way to the Psalms without finding a “fear not.”

I stopped here, because this verse looked interesting to me.

The Lord is my light … I love that.  Things can seem pretty dark when you’re worrying over them.  If the light of the Lord, which is truth itself, is shined upon a problem, it allows me to see the problem for what it really is.  Some problems are really devastating, but, others are mere annoyances that somehow got out of proportion apart from the light of God’s truth.  As I think about it, I don’t really spend any time worrying about big things.  Instead, my worries consistently center around small annoyances that I cannot change or cannot control.

When I looked this up in another translation, this verse is downright cheerful, “Light, space, zest — that’s God!  So, with him on my side I’me fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.”  The Message

What a pleasant thought to start the day!

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Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the life everlasting.  NIV

What a beautiful prayer.

There are not as many verses listed under “anxiety” in my concordance as there are under “worry,” but, the worry list is becoming repetitive, so, I thought I would skip around a bit.

Anxiety and worry are, at a minimum, close cousins.

I have pondered this verse for several minutes, and I am still not certain what David means when he writes, “test me and know my anxious thoughts.”  Does he mean that God should put him to a test to see if David will worry about it?  The Hebrew to English dictionary in my concordance says that the word “test” here means, “to test and learn the genuineness of an object.”

Or, does he mean that God should examine David and understand that he is genuinely worried?

If I put this in the context of all of the other reminders not to worry that are included in the Bible, and, because the next verse says, “see if there is any offensive way in me,” I am thinking that it is the former.

In any case, that’s what I want … I want to be so free of worry and anxiety that even under pressure or a test, I will continue to trust God as my first instinct, not as my last resort.

That’s my prayer today.

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Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  NIV

This is part of a speech that Moses gave to the people of Israel after they had wandered for 40 years in the desert.  Moses knows that he won’t be going with them into the promised land, instead, Joshua will lead the people.

“Them,” in this verse refers to their enemies.  As I remember the story, the Israelites had actually reached the promised land 40 years earlier, but, the scouts they sent into the land came back and told them that the land was inhabited by a whole bunch of people that the Israelites could never hope to conquer.

Now they’re back for the second time, and Moses tells them not to worry about their enemies … they need only to trust in God.

Forty years is a long time to wait for a do-over.  When I think about the parents in my life, they tend to encourage their children to try again immediately upon failing at a task.  There is a lot of wisdom in that.  If you try again immediately, you can immediately utilize what you learned about what caused you to fail initially.  If, for instance, you fell off the bike because you turned the handlebars too quickly and you lost your balance, you can try again, and learn the tolerance that you and the bike have for how quickly those handlebars can be turned.  There is little more that you can learn about what caused you to fall or what will keep you from falling by sitting on the sidewalk, worrying about getting back on the bike.  But sometimes, the thought of getting back on the bike, or the horse, or whatever threw you, is intimidating.

There is a lot of wisdom in this verse.  We don’t have to rely on ourselves and our own imperfect understanding of the circumstances.  Instead, we should, “Be strong.  Take courage.  Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you.  He’s right there with you, He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” The Message

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I Samuel 9:5

When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” NIV

Well, I’ve often heard that if God is teaching you something, you’ll hear it again and again from a variety of sources.  Apparently, there is something else here about these donkeys that is important.  I picked this verse at random from the list of “worry” verses, not realizing that those donkeys would still be being worried over.

So, I went back to the beginning of the story.

The donkeys belong to a man named Kish, who is described as a Benjamite, and a man of standing.  Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob’s sons, the second son, I think, of his beloved Rachel.  I haven’t read far enough along, but I’m thinking that Saul is likely King Saul.  So, Saul’s dad was a worrier.  I can relate.

The interesting thing to me about this verse is that Saul cares that his dad is worried, and he very well understands the worry addiction.  Saul is sent off on a fruitless hunt (he is not the one who finds the donkeys), and, when he realizes that he’s been gone a while, he recognizes that this will start a whole new cycle of worry for his father.

Kish, in the meantime, has likely gone through an entire gamut of emotions … multiple times by now.  He’s been angry, he’s contemplated other people making use of his prized donkeys, he’s pictured them falling down a well and bleeting for help with no-one to hear them.  When he doesn’t hear from Saul, he no doubt worries that the kid got lost, or that some other horrible fate has befallen him.

Worry is like that.  It is a never-ending cycle.  It will consume your thoughts and your time, until you are unable to be any earthly good to anyone.

Sometimes I wonder why particular stories are in the Bible.  I wonder why, for instance, these lost donkeys are left on record for us.  I wonder if it is because God knows that many of us, like Kish, are worriers.  I want to think more about what I can learn from Kish and his donkeys today.

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I Samuel 9:20

As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found.  And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family? NIV

When I found this verse in I Samuel, by looking up one of the listings of the word “worry” in my concordance, I laughed out loud.  “While this may technically qualify as one of the 365 reminders not to worry for which I am searching,” I thought, “this one isn’t really helpful.”

But, as I thought more deeply about it, perhaps there is something here that I can learn from … I have spent many hours in my life worrying about things that I’ve lost.  In fact, some of the things that I remember most vividly are things that I lost in childhood … a little purple block that completed a set of blocks; a ring that I won at a carnival and then lost on the playground.  I can remember laying awake at night, thinking of ways to find that ring.  The playground was made of sand, and, I thought, if I could get a big enough sieve, I could sift through all that sand and find that ring.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost other things, things of much more value.  I’ve worried over them, too.

This verse says not to worry about the things that you’ve lost, and, I think that’s good advice.

Further, as I looked at this verse in another translation, it says, “And by the way, your lost donkeys — the ones you’ve been hunting for the last three days — have been found, so don’t worry about them.  At this moment, Israel’s future is in your hands.”  The Message

So, I think this verse is perhaps saying, “Stop looking back!  God has things for you to accomplish — get on with them.”

I am pretty thankful that I found this verse today.

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Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.  NIV

In general, I’m a pretty busy person.  I run on a tight schedule all day long, even on the weekends.  Most things are planned out days or weeks in advance, and, when the time comes, all I have to do is execute … pop the food on the table, welcome the guests, facilitate the meeting agenda.  Many times, when I’m in the midst of an activity, my mind is not there … it already has moved on to planning the next activity or next several activities.

It is safe to say that I don’t live in the present very often.

If I don’t have something to plan, or to do, I frequently find myself worrying … all of these things combine to keep my mind occupied, almost wholly, with the future, over which, of course, I have absolutely no control.

But, through this project and through other things that are going on in my life, I am learning the importance of getting immersed in God’s word, for at least some time each day. And the true importance of living in the present with my Holy Father.

Yesterday, a new concordance arrived.  This one is indexed to the NIV, but still doesn’t have 365 references to the word “worry.”  What it does have, though, is a pretty amazing index, which will allow me to cross reference verses with original Greek and Hebrew words.  I am pretty confident that through this process, I will be able to find at least 365 reminders not to worry.

I found this verse, which I have known for years, to be so interesting when I looked at the original meanings behind its four main words:

  • Be still: Limp.  Have you ever worried yourself into a frenzy and then cried your heart out?  Do you know that feeling after you’ve sobbed and sobbed?  I feel limp when that happens.
  • and know:  Intimately know.  Know with every fibre of your being.
  • that I am God:  Me.

Give up worrying … give up stressing out … worry it and stress over it until it has physically wrung you out … then, in that silence that comes after the crying fit — know that God is there.  God who knows you intimately, who knit you together in your mother’s womb, who has numbered every hair on your head and counted every hour of your life, is there, being God – all powerful, all knowing, and there for you.

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Filed under Old Testament, Peace, Psalms

Psalm 56:3-4

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God whose words I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me? NIV

I see God’s hand in this project.  I began it with an idle curiosity about how many times He had reminded mankind not to worry.  But, as I walk this path, I see how much wisdom He has provided on the subject.  I’m actually pretty pleased that this will be more challenging than just opening a concordance, finding 365 verses neatly listed and then writing them down.  As I explore the things that we struggle with as humans — worry, fear, anxiety — I see more and more that God anticipated those struggles and He pointed a clear path through them — straight to Him.

When I am afraid, when I am worried, when I am about to be overcome with the mental burdens of this world, I will trust God.

The Message translates this passage and the few verses before it, “Take my side God — I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day.  Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up.  They make it their duty to beat me up.  When I get really afraid I come to you in trust.  I’m proud to praise God, fearless now, I trust in God.”  The Message

I want to be that fearless, trusting believer today.

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Jeremiah 29:11-14

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” NIV

What a precious, precious promise.  God has a plan for my life.  The Message says, “I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”  The Message

I am claiming this promise today.

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Psalm 13

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.  NIV

So, I ordered a concordance that claimed to be comprehensive to help me with this project.  When the book came, it weighed six pounds, and it is full of references.  As soon as I got it out of the box, I went straight to “w,” and found, to my dismay, that the word, “worry,” wasn’t listed.  My first thought was that I was missing something.  I read the instructions on how to use the book … “worry” should have been there … 365 times if what I’d heard was right.  But, it wasn’t.  Turns out, the word “worry,” doesn’t appear in the King James version of the Bible.  Not once.  I found that so interesting.

It got me thinking … did people not worry in earlier times?  I’ve determined that they just called the activity by other names … it has me wondering when “worry” actually became the name for it, but, that is not the journey that I’m on at the moment.  Right now, I’m looking for Biblical reminders not to engage in this activity that I call worry, and this is the one that I found today.

I found it by using a word search on “trust.”  Initially, I just looked at verse 5, “but I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”  That will be my memory verse today.  But, I thought that the rest of the passage was so beautiful.  I just love David.  I love that he left us so much of his heart in the Psalms, and I love that he poured out his heart to God over and over.

It is clear to me that David struggled with worry … whatever he called it, he did it.  And yet, he knew the answer to solving all of his problems — trust in the unfailing love of our Savior.

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Psalm 55:22

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.  NIV

The Message translates this verse, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders — he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.” The Message

Have you every carried a worry for a long time and then finally given it to God?  It does seem like a weight is lifted from your shoulders.  The feeling of relief is absolutely physical.  Why is that?  If we know that God tells us over and over again not to worry, and if we know that He is trustworthy to carry our cares and our fears, if we know that He will sustain us, why do we worry in the first place?

I’m really going to think about that today.  I don’t want to be weighed down by worry … ever!

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Filed under Cares, Old Testament, Psalms, Worry