In an increasingly unsafe world, people are seeking safety and security. Armies face each other across vast deserts, nations arm themselves with nuclear weapons, radical ideologies endanger millions. Closer to home, we face threats to our safety and that of our families every day. Physical safety is paramount in the minds of many. The Bible has much to say about safety, both physical and spiritual.
In the Old Testament, God promised the Israelites that they would dwell in the land in safety if they obeyed His commandments (Leviticus 25:18–19; 26:3–5; Deuteronomy 12:10). When God’s people turned away from Him and followed other gods, their safety was threatened, and the result was disaster. The ups and downs recorded in the book of Judges clearly link ancient Israel’s national safety to their obedience to God’s Word. The Hebrew word translated “safety” in the Old Testament means “a place of refuge; security, trust, confidence, hope.” Proverbs 18:10 describes the name of the Lord as a strong tower into which the righteous run and find safety. Safety also involves trusting in the Lord, according to Proverbs 29:25.
The New Testament does not ignore physical safety. Jesus spoke of carrying a sword for protection (Luke 22:36), and Paul was kept safe from those who would harm him physically on several occasions (Acts 9:25; 17:10; 19:30; 23:10). However, the New Testament focuses more on spiritual safety, i.e., salvation. Jesus and the New Testament writers had a great deal to say about being saved. Spiritual safety is found in only one place—faith in the shed blood of Christ in payment for our sin and in His resurrection (John 3:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8). Jesus came into the world to provide spiritual safety and eternal security to all who would believe in Him. The need for physical safety pales in comparison to the universal need for spiritual safety. One may be in great danger in this world of physical harm and still have the assurance of an eternity of security in heaven. We fear not those who can only harm the body yet never touch the soul (see Matthew 10:28).
Unfortunately, many are deceived into thinking that true security is provided by the things of the world—money, comforts, position, or power. But the safety these things provide is temporary and fleeting. Riches “surely sprout wings and fly off” (Proverbs 23:5). Nothing is sure in this world: “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). No worldly foundation can provide spiritual security in heaven. Paul spoke of a time to come when the Lord will return to earth. At that time, those who trust in anything other than Christ will find they have no peace or safety: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3, NKJV).
Those who have true wisdom will fear the Lord, the One who alone can give true security:
“Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared”