David is often referred to as a “man after God’s own heart.” His name is actually a title that means “warrior or champion.” There are immense articles in theological journals expounding on this reality and explaining its origin. That fits with his life as well. He stood up to Goliath in the Valley of Elah when all Israel’s Army was crippled by fear. He led the Israeli forces to victory after victory against the perennial enemy of Israel the Philistines. He recruited men of great courage and skill in warfare that they were called “David’s mighty men.” David’s courage and valor and faith led him to become the man “after God’s own heart.”

Yet in Psalm 54, he writes, “my heart is troubled within me; and the fear of death has fallen upon me.” I’m so encouraged that “fear” is something that even the bravest warriors experience. Courage and valor are not expressed because of the absence of fear, rather, they are expressed in the presence of fear. In fact, there is no courage or valor without the presence of the fear of death. Have you noticed that Psalm 23 says, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” Please notice that David, the author, is acknowledging his walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” It’s not death he will not fear, it’s evil of any kind.

David, the great warrior, does not repress the fear of death; he acknowledges it in his poetry. We don’t live our lives with the daily consciousness of the fear of death. How morbid would that be! But it’s absolutely essential that we come to terms with our mortality. Hebrews tells us that Christ came to die for those who “through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” The slavery comes not from the fear of death, but from the denial of the fear of death. Even 1 Corinthians 15:32, “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” is not a declaration of freedom to live life any way we want, but is simply another form of, as Piper says, “benumbing denial.” He continues, “Death looms as the great enemy. And we become its slaves in the illusory flight of denial…” Once we acknowledge, like the warrior hero David did, that the fear of death is real, we are then truly free to come to terms with it.

May …peace be yours …Jesus was the first to conquer death…Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free…” Revelation 1:5