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?
David penned Psalm 56 in remembrance of a very difficult period in his life. He had just found out that King Saul was indeed out to kill him. It was his best friend Jonathan – the king’s son – who brought him the news. David did what just about anyone would have done: he ran.
He got bread and a sword from a priest along the way, and then he took a gamble. He headed into Philistine territory to seek sanctuary from King Achish. He figured that since Saul and Achish were enemies and Saul and David were now enemies, that Achish might decide that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and welcome David.
But Achish’s servants didn’t buy it. They pointed out to the king that David was renowned for slaying Philistines. The fact that the sword David was wearing – the one he had been given by the priest – was Goliath’s sword probably didn’t help matters!
David realized he had erred and erred badly. I Samuel 21:13 records what he did next: “So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.” Achish was disgusted and had him thrown out of Philistia. Once free, David ran again.
It was in memory of this time that David affirmed, “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?”
Those words rang out to me: “What can mere man do to me?” because, in David’s case, the answer was “Mere man can torture and kill me in Philistia as payback for slaying Goliath, or turn me over to Saul so that he can torture and kill me because he thinks I’m a threat to his throne.”
For David to say, in those circumstances, “I will put my trust in You” ... well, that’s a lot of trust.
I think about myself. About my tendency to freak out if I think a friend might have taken something I said the wrong way. About my spikes of anxiety if a project doesn’t go quite right with a client. About my fear to be bold sharing my faith because it might not be taken well by the other person.
To be honest, many times I have trouble putting my trust in God. And my circumstances are nothing like the grim threat of torture and death that David faced when he declared, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
If, like me, you sometimes find it hard to trust, then I encourage you to pray with me now:
Lord, when I am afraid, my first impulse is often to freak out with anxiety and terror. I imagine all sorts of worst-case scenarios. I focus on my weaknesses and failings. I worry and worry and worry some more.
Help me to know you more deeply, Lord. To know your love, your power, your grace, and your sovereignty. The more I know you, the more I trust you. Please help me to grow in love for you and in understanding of your love for me so that I can say with David, “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?”