In this small psalm, we ask rhetorically, whom shall I fear? The word “shall” is derived from the old Norse word Skyld, which was the name of a an old Norse goddess. Skyld was the goddess of obligation. The word is found prominently in modern legal contracts, in which our legal class calls us to do what we must do to honour the systems of the world.
Translators of David’s psalm have chosen the word “shall” to invoke a system of obligation from which only the living God can transcend. The psalm asks the rhetorical question: of whom shall I be afraid? When we live inside the perfect will of God, we shall be afraid of no one. The obligations and fears of the world have no hold over us. In this psalm, God has obliterated the pagan understanding of sacrifice and obligation. God’s light and salvation bring us into the new law: an abundant life in Jesus, where we follow the law that God has placed on our hearts. In Jesus, this obligation is unique and designed for our perfect relationship with him.
Jesus, thank you for the light of your salvation, which offers me a new path of understanding how I can move forward in the world. Amen. — VH