Scarecrows are placed on farms to scare the birds away. Even though the scarecrows have only a skewed resemblance to human beings who can harm them, birds go nowhere near them. But some birds are smart enough to tell the scarecrow from a real human. They know that they are just hay for the body, a broken pot for the head and still. These birds also know that the scarecrow is placed where there is something to eat. No one puts a scarecrow where nothing is grown. Instead of being scared away, they dare to land on the scarecrows to enjoy the feast the ripe field offers. This is the difference between faith and fear.
The psalmist declares that when she is afraid, she will trust in God (Psalm 56:3-4). “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God, I praise his word. In God, I put my trust.” However, this faith makes her to challenge the frightening situations, “What can mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:11 and Psalm 56:4). Faith in God and fear of human beings are mutually exclusive. Faith does not run away but would stay and challenge the situation.
In Nehemiah’s case, his opponents created scary situations to stop him from doing his work. But nothing would deter Nehemiah from his work. In Nehemiah 6:9-14 we read of an attempt to frighten Nehemiah the man of faith. However, Nehemiah discerned that these are only scarecrows! It was an attempt to humiliate him. Though those who pretended to be friendly advised to flee for his life and find shelter in the temple, he refused to act according to their advice. He said, “Should such a man as I flee, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in” (Nehemiah 6:11).
Nehemiah landed on scarecrows instead of flying past them. Landing on scarecrows is not easy. First, one must tell a scarecrow from a real human armed guard! A wrong judgment could be fatal. It requires discernment based on faith in God. It was this faith in God that emboldened Nehemiah. “I discerned, and, behold, God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me: and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him” (Nehemiah 6:11). The Psalmist agrees with Nehemiah to say, “when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. In God, I praise his word. In God, I put my trust” (Psalm 56:3-4).
Frightening situations in various forms pop up daily in life. They can range from frustrating words and threats to grave threats. Yet no threat can last longer than the one who threatens. Knowing that these threats come from “mere mortals” the godly one trusts in God who is “immortal”. Faith in God gives us the courage to confront frightening situations, and we should take God more seriously than those who cause us trouble. They are only scarecrows; land on them, there must be something around them you may enjoy.