A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah
When you are in a dire situation, you need a message of hope. Israel was almost always in some kind of danger, in this case attacks from the much more powerful Assyrians. Isaiah’s message from God is clear. “Fear not!” “Here is your God.”
Fear is one of the most destructive forces in our lives. Sometimes it is unwarranted fear that wells up from some dark place in us and takes over for a time, perhaps a long time. At other times it comes from a real concern about someone we love or something that is happening in our lives that threatens our well- being. Of course, we would like all fears to go away or at least leave us alone for a while. God’s message to us in all these situations is “Fear not” or “Be not afraid.” God says this to the Israelites over and over again through the prophets, and Jesus says it to his disciples. These words and their companion message—“I am with you”—are said more than any other expressions in the Bible. God wants to assure us, especially in our worst moments, that we are not alone.
“Praise the Lord, my soul.” This psalm is a litany of all the things God has done for his people, especially those most in need. It is a good psalm to pray in times of stress.