Trust that overcomes fear

It is natural to be afraid when we are in those circumstances which can overwhelm us

Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

There is a deep sense of power and simplicity in this statement. The entirety of this psalm is described as having been written by David when he had been seized by the Philistines in Gath. He had plenty to fear, as he describes his experience throughout the psalm.

Psalm 56:1-2, 5-6 – Be gracious to me, God, for a man is trampling me; he fights and oppresses me all day long. My adversaries trample me all day, for many arrogantly fight against me. … They twist my words all day long; all their thoughts against me are evil. They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps while they wait to take my life.

While we may not be in captivity or fear for our very lives, many of us can relate to the emotions that David expresses here. We may feel trampled and oppressed each day as arrogant people come against us. Our words may be twisted as our accusers stir up strife. We may have those watching everything we do, waiting for us to slip up so they can take advantage of our situation.

To counter this, David simply says to God, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” We need to recognize that David was indeed afraid. Notice he doesn’t say “if I were to become afraid, I would trust in you.” No, he relates that fear and distress were regular occurrences in his life.

Psalm 18:6 – I called to Yahweh in my distress, and I cried to my God for help.
Psalm 22:11 – Don’t be far from me, because distress is near and there’s no one to help.
Psalm 55:3-5 – because of the enemy’s words, because of the pressure of the wicked. For they bring down disaster on me and harass me in anger. My heart shudders within me; terrors of death sweep over me. Fear and trembling grip me; horror has overwhelmed me.
Psalm 69:17, 19-20 – Don’t hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress. Answer me quickly! … You know the insults I endure — my shame and disgrace. You are aware of all my adversaries. Insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. I waited for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, but found no one.

Yet, time and time again, when David was in this condition, his reflexive response was to reach out to God.

Psalm 18:2-3 – Yahweh is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to Yahweh, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.
Psalm 22:23-24 – You who fear Yahweh, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! All you descendants of Israel, revere him! For he has not despised or abhorred the torment of the oppressed. He did not hide his face from him but listened when he cried to him for help.
Psalm 55:16, 22 – But I call to God, and Yahweh will save me. … Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalm 69:30-32 – I will praise God’s name with song and exalt him with thanksgiving. That will please Yahweh more than an ox, more than a bull with horns and hooves. The humble will see it and rejoice. You who seek God, take heart!

Even among the Philistines, David was encouraged as he relied on God’s word and praised him.

Psalm 56:10-11, 13 – In God, whose word I praise, in Yahweh, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere humans do to me? … For you rescued me from death, even my feet from stumbling, to walk before God in the light of life.

Who are the metaphorical Philistines you may be facing each day? Know that it is natural to be afraid when we are in those circumstances which can overwhelm us. However, when our footing and our firm foundation are in God, we can overcome those oppressive feelings and not only remain steadfast, but become a light for others when they see the boldness of our faith.

Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

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