Fear is common to man. Each of us can identify situations in life that cause us to be fearful, and certainly there are situations where fear is an appropriate response. For example, there is a certain fear that washes over a parent when she reaches for the hand of her toddler in a busy shopping mall only to discover that the little one’s hand is not there. Fear for the safety of her child compels the mother to act, quickly. Sadly, however, the fear that grips us often is the result of our failure to trust in our gracious and sovereign God (Ps 34:19-20; Luke 12:22-31; John 10:28).
King David was accustomed to fear. Recorded for us in the book of the Psalms are several accounts of David’s battle against fear. God has graciously given us instruction for how to combat our fear and an example of this instruction is found in Psalm 56. In this psalm, David has fled for his life from the deranged King Saul. David is in the presence of the Philistines of Gath and learns that they are no friends of his either! He begins the psalm by asking God to be gracious to him because of the peril he is in with men seeking his life. David then says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid, What can flesh do to me?” (Ps 56:3-4) A few verses later David reminds himself of the truth that “God is for me” before repeating the phrase, “I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
(Ps 56:9, 11)
We have an example to follow in David. When he was faced with fear he first cried out to God for help. This too should be our response: “Father, be gracious to me!” Next, David instructed his heart to trust in God (Ps 56:3). Third, he considered the limited power of his enemies in comparison to almighty God (Ps 56:4, 11). Finally, David comforted himself by recalling truths about God (Ps 56:8, 9). Fear is debilitating for the believer because it shifts our focus from the Savior to our circumstances. Like David, when faced with fear we must:
(1) Cry out to our heavenly Father
(2) Instruct our heart in truth
(3) Consider the limited power of the enemy
(4) Remind ourselves of the character of God
May God give us grace to fear Him alone.
See also Psalm 3, Psalm 27, Psalm 34