Psalm 34:4 I sought Yahveh, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and Yahveh heard him and saved him from all his troubles.
Psalm 34:7 The angel of Yahveh encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.
a faithful fear
The confidence expressed in this section is that the same Lord who rescued David (4,6) is available to rescue others (5,7) who get into the same kind of tight spot he did. Notice also that the psalmist uses the word fear of two different things. David’s fears are what he was rescued from (4), but the angel of Yahveh encamps around those who fear him (7). So, when we get into a tight spot, and there are fears all around us, we need to determine whom we will fear the most.
Most people who comment on the idea of fearing God are tempted to give the term a different definition – something like being in awe of his greatness, or respecting him. I don’t think that applies here. There are two different Hebrew terms used here. The objects of fear (מְגוּרָה) – a noun – of verse four are contrasted with the choice to fear (יָרֵא) – a verb – of verse seven.
David was in a tight spot. There were enemies all around him. He was far away from his armies, and people had their eyes on him, planning to kill him. He had plenty of objects to fear. But he chose to fear God the most. He chose to stay loyal to God and let God be his rescuer. That is what fearing God means. It is not the opposite of faith. It is a faithful fear.
Lord, give us the wisdom to put our faith and our fear in you.