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A8. Succumbing to Fear, Worry & Anxiety.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to fear, worry or be anxious, but rather put our trust in God.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Deuteronomy 1:17 (Maimonides RN276; Meir MN72; Chinuch C415)
You are not to show favoritism when judging, but give equal attention to the small and to the great. No matter how a person presents himself, don't be afraid of him; because the decision is God's. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me and I will hear it.

Deuteronomy 3:19-22 (Maimonides RN58; Chinuch C525)
'Your wives, your little ones and your livestock - I know you have much livestock - will stay in your cities which I have given you, until ADONAI allows your brothers to rest, as he has allowed you; and they too take possession of the land ADONAI your God is giving them on the west side of the Yarden. At that point you will return, each man to his own possession which I have given you.' Also at that time I gave this order to Y'hoshua: 'Your eyes have seen everything that ADONAI your God has done to these two kings. ADONAI will do the same to all the kingdoms you encounter when you cross over. Don't be afraid of them, because ADONAI your God will fight on your behalf.'

Deuteronomy 7:16-21 (Maimonides RN58; Chinuch C525)
You are to devour all the peoples that ADONAI your God hands over to you - show them no pity, and do not serve their gods, because that will become a trap for you. If you think to yourselves, 'These nations outnumber us; how can we dispossess them?' Nevertheless, you are not to be afraid of them; you are to remember well what ADONAI your God did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt - the great ordeals which you yourself saw, and the signs, wonders, strong hand and outstretched arm by which ADONAI your God brought you out. ADONAI will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, ADONAI your God will send the hornet among them until those who are left and those who hide themselves perish ahead of you. You are not to be frightened of them, because ADONAI your God is there with you, a God great and fearsome.

Deuteronomy 20:2-4 (Chinuch C525)
When you are about to go into battle, the cohen is to come forward and address the people. He should tell them, 'Listen, Isra'el! You are about to do battle against your enemies. Don't be fainthearted or afraid; don't be alarmed or frightened by them; because ADONAI your God is going with you to fight on your behalf against your enemies and give you victory.'

Deuteronomy 20:8 (Chinuch C525)
The officials will then add to what they have said to the soldiers: 'Is there a man here who is afraid and fainthearted? He should go back home; otherwise his fear may demoralize his comrades as well.'

Psalm 27:1
ADONAI is my light and salvation; whom do I need to fear? ADONAI is the stronghold of my life; of whom should I be afraid?

Psalm 118:6
With ADONAI on my side, I fear nothing - what can human beings do to me?

Matthew 6:25-34
Therefore, I tell you, don't worry about your life - what you will eat or drink; or about your body - what you will wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds flying about! They neither plant nor harvest, nor do they gather food into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they are? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to his life? And why be anxious about clothing? Think about the fields of wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread, yet I tell you that not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these. If this is how God clothes grass in the field - which is here today and gone tomorrow, thrown in an oven - won't he much more clothe you? What little trust you have! So don't be anxious, asking, 'What will we eat?,' 'What will we drink?' or 'How will we be clothed?' For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Don't worry about tomorrow - tomorrow will worry about itself! Today has enough tsuris already!

Luke 12:4-7
My friends, I tell you: don't fear those who kill the body but then have nothing more they can do. I will show you whom to fear: fear him who after killing you has authority to throw you into Gei-Hinnom! Yes, I tell you, this is the one to fear! Aren't sparrows sold for next to nothing, five for two assarions? And not one of them has been forgotten by God. Why, every hair on your head has been counted! Don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.

Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Then God's shalom, passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a Spirit who produces not timidity ["fear" in the NKJV], but power, love and self-discipline.

Hebrews 13:6
Therefore, we say with confidence, "ADONAI is my helper; I will not be afraid - what can a human being do to me?"

Supportive Scriptures

Deuteronomy 31:4-6
ADONAI will do to them what he did to Sichon and 'Og, the kings of the Emori, and to their land - he destroyed them. ADONAI will defeat them ahead of you, and you are to do to them just as I have ordered you to do. Be strong, be bold, don't be afraid or frightened of them, for ADONAI your God is going with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Joshua 1:8-9
Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed. Haven't I ordered you, 'Be strong, be bold'? So don't be afraid or downhearted, because ADONAI your God is with you wherever you go.

2 Kings 6:15-17
The servant of the man of God got up early in the morning; on going outside, he saw an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. His servant said to him, "Oh, my master, this is terrible! What are we going to do?" He answered, "Don't be afraid - those who are with us outnumber those who are with them!" Elisha prayed, "ADONAI, I ask you to open his eyes, so that he can see." Then ADONAI opened the young man's eyes, and he saw: there before him, all around Elisha, the mountain was covered with horses and fiery chariots.

Isaiah 12:2
See! God is my salvation. I am confident and unafraid; for Yah ADONAI is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation!

Isaiah 35:4
Say to the fainthearted, "Be strong and unafraid! Here is your God; he will come with vengeance; with God's retribution he will come and save you."

Isaiah 41:10-14
Don't be afraid, for I am with you; don't be distressed, for I am your God. I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand. All those who were angry with you will be disgraced, put to shame; those who fought against you will be destroyed, brought to nothing. You will seek them but not find them, those who contended with you; yes, those who made war with you will be brought to nothing, nothing at all. For I, ADONAI, your God, say to you, as I hold your right hand, 'Have no fear; I will help you. Have no fear, Ya'akov, you worm, you men of Isra'el!' I will help you," says ADONAI; "Your redeemer is the Holy One of Isra'el.

Isaiah 43:1-5
But now this is what ADONAI says, he who created you, Ya'akov, he who formed you, Isra'el: "Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through water, I will be with you; when you pass through rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you will not be scorched - the flame will not burn you. For I am ADONAI, your God, the Holy One of Isra'el, your Savior - I have given Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and S'va for you. Because I regard you as valued and honored, and because I love you. For you I will give people, nations in exchange for your life. Don't be afraid, for I am with you. I will bring your descendants from the east, and I will gather you from the west

Psalm 23:1-4
ADONAI is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person. He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name. Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.

Psalm 34:5(4)
I sought ADONAI, and he answered me; he rescued me from everything I feared.

Psalm 46:2-3
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we are unafraid, even if the earth gives way, even if the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea

Psalm 55:23-24(22-23)
Unload your burden on ADONAI, and he will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved. But you will bring them down, God, into the deepest pit. Those men, so bloodthirsty and treacherous, will not live out half their days. But for my part, [ADONAI,] I put my trust in you.

Psalm 56:2-4(2-3)
Those who are lying in wait for me would trample on me all day. For those fighting against me are many. Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Psalm 91:1-7
You who live in the shelter of 'Elyon, who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai, who say to ADONAI, "My refuge! My fortress! My God, in whom I trust!" - he will rescue you from the trap of the hunter and from the plague of calamities; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his truth is a shield and protection. You will not fear the terrors of night or the arrow that flies by day, or the plague that roams in the dark, or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it won't come near you.

Psalm 112:5-8
Things go well with the person who is merciful and lends, who conducts his affairs with fairness; for he will never be moved. The righteous will be remembered forever. He will not be frightened by bad news; he remains steady, trusting in ADONAI. His heart is set firm, he will not be afraid, till finally he looks in triumph at his enemies.

Proverbs 1:29-33
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of ADONAI, they refused my counsel and despised my reproof. So they will bear the consequences of their own way and be overfilled with their own schemes. For the aimless wandering of the thoughtless will kill them, and the smug overconfidence of fools will destroy them; but those who pay attention to me will live securely, untroubled by fear of misfortune.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a person's heart weighs him down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Proverbs 29:25
Fearing human beings is a snare; but he who trusts in ADONAI will be raised high [above danger].

Lamentations 3:57
You came near when I called to you; you said, "Don't be afraid."

Matthew 8:24-26
Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. So they came and roused him, saying, "Sir! Help! We're about to die!" He said to them, "Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.

Matthew 10:25-31
It is enough for a talmid that he become like his rabbi, and a slave like his master. Now if people have called the head of the house Ba'al-Zibbul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! So do not fear them; for there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom. Aren't sparrows sold for next to nothing, two for an assarion? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's consent. As for you, every hair on your head has been counted. So do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.

Mark 4:37-40
A furious windstorm arose, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was close to being swamped. But he was in the stern on a cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, "Rabbi, doesn't it matter to you that we're about to be killed? He awoke, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind subsided, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you no trust even now?"

Mark 5:35-36
While he [Yeshua] was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house came, saying, "Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?" Ignoring what they had said, Yeshua told the synagogue official, "Don't be afraid, just keep trusting."

Luke 12:22-32
To his talmidim Yeshua said, "Because of this I tell you, don't worry about your life - what you will eat or drink; or about your body - what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Think about the ravens! They neither plant nor harvest, they have neither storerooms nor barns, yet God feeds them. You are worth much more than the birds! Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life? If you can't do a little thing like that, why worry about the rest? Think about the wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread; yet, I tell you, not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these. If this is how God clothes grass, which is alive in the field today and thrown in the oven tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you! What little trust you have! In other words, don't strive after what you will eat and what you will drink - don't be anxious. For all the pagan nations in the world set their hearts on these things. Your Father knows that you need them too. Rather, seek his Kingdom; and these things will be given to you as well. Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has resolved to give you the Kingdom!

John 14:26-27
But the Counselor, the Ruach HaKodesh, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything; that is, he will remind you of everything I have said to you. What I am leaving with you is shalom - I am giving you my shalom. I don't give the way the world gives. Don't let yourselves be upset or frightened.

Acts 18:9-10
One night, in a vision, the Lord said to Sha'ul, "Don't be afraid, but speak right up, and don't stop, because I am with you. No one will succeed in harming you, for I have many people in this city."

Hebrews 2:14-15
Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary) and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death.

1 Peter 3:12-14
For ADONAI keeps his eyes on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of ADONAI is against those who do evil things. For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don't fear what they fear or be disturbed ...

1 Peter 5:6-7
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time he may lift you up. Throw all your anxieties upon him, because he cares about you.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love.


There are three kinds of fear that are recognized in the Scriptures. The first kind (exemplified by "fear of God and parents") has to do with having profound respect (reverence), and is appropriate - even commanded in those and similar applications. The second kind (also appropriate) is the kind that is built into us by God, in order to protect us from imminent danger. Examples of this kind of fear are our ducking for cover upon being startled by a loud discharge, and our holding back from touching a hot object after having been previously burned by it. The third kind, the one that the Scriptures command against, is the kind where we seek to protect ourselves in circumstances where we ought instead to be relying on God. This kind is exemplified by fear of man and of unwanted circumstances (e.g. death).

We sometimes think of fear as a feeling, and indeed there is a physiological component to it. However, God does not command us regarding feelings, but rather regarding the choices that we make (in faith) in spite of our feelings. That is the teaching of 2 Corinthians 5:7:

... for we live by trust, not by what we see. (rendered in the New King James: For we walk by faith, not by sight.)

The Greek word for "sight" in this Scripture is (pronounced "aye-dos"), and refers not only to eyesight, but to all of our senses, including those that imbue us with feelings.

Fear, worry, and anxiety are similar in that they are the opposite of trusting God for our welfare and protection. All three are debilitating and open us to spiritual attack, and that is why there are so many Scriptures (in both the Tanakh and the Kitvey B'rit Chadasha) that warn us against giving in to fear, and exhort us to have faith instead.

Classical Commentators

The mitzvot of Maimonides and HaChinuch address only three kinds of fear - the reverent kind (not addressed in this Mitzvah), fear of idolaters, and fear (by a judge) of a party to a lawsuit. Meir addresses only reverent fear and a judge's fear.


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