One of my favorite dental patients is also one of my scariest dental patients. Sam (not his real name) is a Richland County sheriff’s deputy who always schedules his appointment for first thing in the morning. He likes this time because it allows him to head to work immediately afterward.
Sam is soft-spoken and easy-going, and after we get the dental preliminaries out of the way, we often talk about his dogs.
So why is he one of my scariest patients? Because he’s packing heat. (That’s street talk for He carries a weapon.)
When Sam enters my operatory, it’s hard to miss the armamentarium strapped to his waist. Pepper spray, a Billy club, two sets of handcuffs, and a revolver in a holster.
I’m a city girl. I’m not used to firearms. Unlike my country friends who grew up with fathers who hunt, I’ve never fired a shotgun, a pistol, or even a BB gun. The closest I’ve ever come to shooting anything was when I aimed my cap gun at a bird when I was six.
This is why firearms intimidate me. And having a six-foot-four sheriff’s deputy seated in my dental chair with a weapon on his hip is somewhat unsettling. It makes me nervous.
But it also makes me feel safe.
It makes me feel safe because I know if anyone ever threatens me while Sam is there, he’ll defend me. He’ll use his strength and his weapons to protect me, because he’s promised to defend innocent people and uphold the law.
I thought about Sam when I read Psalm 34:7:
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
“Fear” in this verse means reverent respect—the same kind of “fear” I feel toward Sam and his weapons. I respect the office he holds and the authority he has as a law enforcement officer. And I respect the gun strapped to his side. As long as I abide by the law, I have nothing to be afraid of.
Likewise, I should reverently respect the Lord. When I do, he promises to protect and defend me. He is the ultimate powerful authority, and he can defend and deliver me from anything that threatens me. I love the mental picture of the angel of the Lord (another name for Christ) encamping or surrounding those who fear him. Because God possesses the ultimate firepower, nothing can get to me when he circles the wagons. I can trust him to take care of me.
If you’re struggling with fear today, I encourage you to spend time in Psalm 34. Read and claim its promises. Revel in the peace, protection, and deliverance God offers to his children. Acknowledge how great and mighty God is. Approach him with humility and respect.
May the peace of God keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
What portions of Scripture do you cling to when you’re afraid? I’d love for you to share them by leaving a comment below.
1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.