Confidence in God Overrules our Fears Psalm 56

Dr. Jerry A. Collins


God gave us the emotion of fear. It was given with a purposeóto alert us to danger so that we will take action against it. Yet, sudden fear can cause us to be terrified. We can let fear take root in us so that we give way to panic and hysteria. Does that ring any bells with you? Are you prone to hysterics? God knows this about us. When we are afraid, God wants us to trust Him and not give way to fear. Learning to do that is our walk from fear to faith. The theme of this Psalm is trust in God in the presence of immediate danger. We do not know exactly the circumstance behind the Psalm, but it might coincide with David taking refuge amongst his enemies, the Philistines, from Saulís attempts to kill him. Hoping they might not recognize him, he felt unsafe in their territory and greatly feared Achish of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-15). When the Philistines did recognize him, he feigned madness and prayed for deliverance. This Psalm is a legacy of that experience.



Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; Fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me verses 1-2. This intercessory prayer is urgent be gracious to me, O God. Like so many of the Psalms and much of our lives, we have to appeal for divine selective favor. There is no presuming upon God for something he deserved. He prayed with confidence. Itís clear that the urgent appeal for divine selective favor is due to the need for divine intervention, for man has trampled upon me. The subject man is used collectively of his enemies in the flesh who are crushing him over and over again, who are called my foes in v 2. Additionally, the attackers are fighting all day long [and] he oppresses me. The Psalmist is being squeezed in some way. So there is the application of force. This description is graphicóthese foes are watching him so as to entrap him. The relentless campaign against him is underscored by its persistence all day long his numerous adversaries fight proudly against me. Arrogant and abusive, they do not let up in their attacks to pressure him into subjugation.

Application: Overwhelmed by inexplicable difficulty will test our faith. To pass this test is to desperately cling to God in prayer for His divine selective favor. Our focus will then be dependence upon God, rather than the danger of our difficulty.



When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? verses 3-4. Specifically, it is when frightening events happen to us that we should turn to God in faith and trust when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. The crisis has not diminished, but his confidence is in God who alone can bring this bad deal to an end. His orientation is correct in God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust. His confidence is based upon what he can say about God. That is always the measure of our trust and faith in fearful danger. If you can say much about your God, your faith and trust is much. If you can say little, so is your faith. The psalmist boasts lavishly in Godís word. That word is Godís promises of protection and blessing. Because he trusts in this word I shall not be afraid. Of course there is fear, but he is not going to yield to it so it focuses his attention. What can mere man do to me? Nothing! They are merely mortal, fleshly, and powerless before God because the psalmist has Gods word to rely upon. Otherwise, it would be a terrifying crisis if he did not have that word. So he praises God instead!

Application: One plus God is a majority. So when we are overwhelmed by enemies wanting to harm us, ruin us, endanger us, or even destroy us, remember, and donít forget that they are mere men. We canít get to God without His word. He revealed it to us.





All day long they distort my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil. They attack, they lurk, they watch my steps, as they have waited to take my life. Because of wickedness, cast them forth, in anger put down the peoples, O God! verses 5-7. Based upon his confidence in God he lays out his problem before God all day long [God], they distort my words. This is Davidís appeal to God for deliverance from the gossip about him in Gath, Philistine territory. His enemies continually twist his words all day long. It is part of their plan to ruin him all their thoughts are against me for evil. Every plan is to hurt him in some way. Relentlessly, they terrify him as they attack, they lurk, and they watch my steps. They are hostile toward him planning his harm whenever they have the chance.


The point of their aggression is they have waited to take my life. Their intent is to destroy him, period. Everywhere he turns, his life is threatened and in jeopardy. So, specifically he wants God to bring down his enemies because of wickedness, cast them forth. Their wickedness stresses both their sin and the trouble they cause for which they will not escape. So he prays for God to judge them in his wrath so they never rise again in anger put down the peoples, O God! Uncomfortable with that prayer? This is a righteous prayer for God to honor his word and defend his cause from those continually trying to destroy it and you.

Application: It was reported that Abraham Lincoln said in midst of the civil war ĎI have often been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.í A faithful follower of Jesus understands the reality of that conviction.



You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me verses 8-9. God knows what is happening to his people and he cares for all of the details You have taken account of my wanderings. God is observing and considering our plight. He knows the particulars of our wandering here on earth full of oppression and suffering and hopelessness without His intervention. God is omniscient. The request concerns his tears put my tears in Your bottle. He wants God to preserve the memory of his pain. Not to ignore or discard the suffering of His people are they not in Your book? The pain, anguish and tears that caused the psalmist to wander were fully known to God. If God does this, then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. So, if God is moved by compassion at the unjust treatment of his people, God will step in and change it, is the understanding. He is confident the enemies will be repulsed by God in some way this I know, that God is for me. He knows God is on his side.

Application: No matter the odds arrayed against you, the threats dominating your life, God is by your side and you can trust His word to guide you through. What is interesting is David was actually delivered by a creative deception (David faking insanity). In other words, David asks God for help, trusts God for help, and thanks God for help and it was by his own creative efforts that he escaped. So Davidís creativity was the help of God.



In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? verses 10-11. In essence, the Psalmist says I praise God for his word. All throughout the Psalm the word of the Lord has been his focus. The Lord is as true as his word. So to trust in the Lord is to trust in his word. The word of God should be the cause of our praise since it represents the integrity of our God. The outcome is that in God I have put my trust. Gods word is reliable at all times. So I shall not be afraid. Your fear of man is directly measured by your level of confidence in Gods word what can man do to me? Nothing! Evil men, in contrast to God, are insignificant and impotent. The word of God is the reason he knows God cares for him and will deliver him from all evil. Through the centuries, the people of God have praised him for His word and trusted that word through every kind of difficulty. With nothing to fear, nothing putting them in dread of their enemies, they knew God was for them and he would make things right.

Application: Those who know the fear of the Lord have the freedom to live their lives to the fullest. Fear of man enslaves you. Gods word understood and applied is the basis of our freedom.



Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For You have delivered

my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living verses 12-13. He anticipates that he will praise God for the deliverance Your vows are binding upon me, O God. David is sill in Philistine territory hiding out. Saul is still pursuing his life. The philistines are still threatening him. He is still not safe physically. Yet, he promises to pay his vows to give God praise most likely in the sanctuary. It was his duty to do so and he affirms it I will render thank offerings to You. The praise of God will be in the form of thank offerings. This is a central attitude of the devout.


He expects to praise and thank God because he is convinced that deliverance is as good as done for You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling. Itís deliverance generally from death and specifically from stumbling according to his enemyís devices. After all, they were watching every step he made. The purpose of the anticipated deliverance was so that I may walk before God. Rather than wandering in suffering and dread, he would walk about to and fro in life, in Godís presence, obedient to him, and in communion with him. That walk would be in the light of the living enjoying Godís full provisions of life.

Application: David asked for God to deliver him, but he was actually delivered by a creative deception (David faking insanity). So clearly David did not rule out his own creativity as an answer to his prayer. Fear God, not men.


So What?

o   When we correctly apprehend Gods promises, according to the understanding of the biblical author, that apprehension casts out our fear

o   Threatening circumstances should not be a reason to doubt God unless you have little confidence in the integrity of Gods word

o   When surrounded by voices clamoring for your demise, praise and thanksgiving to God characterizes the spiritually mature and devout