Fear you not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you…
There is no virtue more highly and widely esteemed than courage, and no vice more generally detested than cowardice. Courage makes heroes, and amongst the ancients, at least, heroes were second in rank to the gods. Amongst savage tribes it may almost be said that courage is the only virtue, for without it all other good qualities lose their value, and where it exists it covers a multitude of sins. This is also the virtue which children most admire. Jack the Giant Killer is a story of perennial interest to the children. Nor is hero-worship a thing unknown among older people.
I. THE NEED FOR COURAGE. Courage is the quality which enables one to resist. It is the power to say "No."
II. THE NATURE OF COURAGE. Courage displays itself in many ways. It may be seen on the battlefield, and in the quiet endurance of difficulties in the home. It may be seen in maintaining unpopular opinions amid difficult or dangerous circumstances, or in meeting death with unblanched cheek. What is courage?
1. Courage is not blindness to danger. It is no virtue to be unconcerned in the presence of dangers, about which one is totally ignorant. The greatest courage often goes along with the keenest sense of danger. The young officer who was fighting by the side of an old veteran was surprised to find his face blanched with fear. The young man being reckless of danger himself, asked with considerable surprise, "You are not afraid, are you?" "I am afraid," was the reply; "and if you were half as afraid as I am you would run." Two of our Lord's disciples once displayed the courage of ignorance. When Christ asked them if they were able to drink of the cup which He should drink, and be baptized with His baptism, they readily replied that they were able. They -were unconscious of the greatness of the task to which they were willing to pledge themselves.
2. Courage is a true estimate of dangers. "Knowledge is the antidote to fear." "Courage is equality to the problem before us." Socrates was condemned to drink the hemlock cup because he taught the youth of Athens noble truths about God, which were esteemed by the authorities as heresy. He might have won his life by a recantation, or an apology to his judges. He preferred death, when the executioner brought in the poison cup, the friends who were gathered round him wept, and Socrates alone was calm. He explained to them that he knew it was a dangerous thing to tell a lie; but that it might even be a blessing to die. At least he would not do what he knew to be evil, in preference to suffering what might possibly be evil, or what might even prove a blessing. The lie was the greater danger.
III. MOTIVES FOR COURAGE. The possession of such courage is to be coveted. How is it to be gained? what motive can be found sufficient to inspire one to such acts of bravery?
1. Pity for the oppressed.
2. Consciousness of companionship.
3. Knowledge that the cause is God's.
(R. C. Ford, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.