A Beautiful Fear

Beauty, God, Psychology

When I think about the “man” exploits of David—the killings of a bear and lion to save what I would consider dispensable, stupid sheep; the slaying of the invincible giant Goliath; and the killing of two hundred Philistines whose foreskins he scalped as a prize for King Saul—I wonder what it would take to strike fear into the heart of such a valiant man. If it had been me the sheep would have been fodder, the giant would be left to blaspheme, and the two hundred Philistines could keep, well, their “stuff”.

David is no stranger to danger and threat, betrayal and exile, courage and escape. When you look at his resume, he was a military genius. His military campaigns were of vast bloodshed and conquest, so much so that God denied him the right to build for Him the house of God. With all his experiences of warfare, he is not one to be trifled with.

There are some fears that seem rather absurd, but according to the list of clinical phobias they are legitimate fears, such as peladophobia: the fear of baldness and bald people; porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple; chaetophobia: fear of hairy people (apparently they adore Filipinos); calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings, which to me means a fear of politicians. The science of psychology has classified every imaginable fear under the sun and the list continues to grow. The irony about this passage is that David classifies the absolutely fearful and says, “I am not afraid!”

But how can he make such a brazen statement when an entire army is out for his head? David describes his mortal enemies as having violence upon their breath as spears for slandering and they are maddened by savagery and cannibalism. They are in effect really mean and really scary. If some of the clinical phobias I mentioned describe you and you are frightened by bald, purple, hairy politicians, it is most likely because you have lived your life without the sort of fears David faced regularly. The perils of David are nothing psychologist would find difficult classifying as legitimate fears. But, what secular psychologist would have difficult interpreting is this, how in the world can David worship when things were downright desperate?

“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.”

You can pluck a flower in the middle of a wasteland and, while under the spell of its beauty, almost forget the existence of the ugliness and desolation that surrounds you. Beauty has a power to blur reality and expose imitation; to scramble the intellect and stump the eloquent; to weaken convictions and reform the barbaric. That is the power of beauty. Beauty is ultimately a call to worship because it draws your heart to gratitude in the Creator of all beautiful things.

Of all the things psychologists would grant him the right to fear, David, the man of infinite courage, has but one fear—being apart form the beauty of the Lord. It is his worship that was fearless, not his fight. To have no fear is to have but one fear. And if there’s anything David should fear it is the face of God, the very face that God denied Moses to gaze upon because it would have slain him dead. God is that drop dead gorgeous!

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