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.
WHEN WE ARE OPPRESSED WE NEED GODíS
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.
THE DEVOUT FIND SECURITY IN GODS WORD IN TERRIFYING TIMES
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.
SECURE IN GODS WORD THE FAITHFUL POUR OUT COMPLAINTS TO GOD
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.
CONFIDENCE IN GOD RESULTS FROM KNOWING GOD SEES AND CARES††
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.
KNOWING GOD IS OMNISCIENT AND COMPASSIONATE REMOVES FEAR OF MEN
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
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.
WITHOUT FEAR OF MAN BELIEVERS WILL PRAISE GOD SO TO LIVE IN HIS
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.
When we correctly
apprehend Gods promises, according to the understanding of the biblical author,
that apprehension casts out our fear
circumstances should not be a reason to doubt God unless you have little
confidence in the integrity of Gods word
by voices clamoring for your demise, praise and thanksgiving to God
characterizes the spiritually mature and devout