Thursday, May 19, 2022

Gripped by Fear (Psalm 56)

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.… In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?" (Psalm 56:3–4).

David resorted to some creative maneuvering to escape from the clutches of Saul to the land of Gath. In an effort to avoid one enemy, David found himself in the antagonistic hands of King Achish. Achish knew who David was and believed he was secretly plotting against him. When David realized this, he began to fear the king of Gath. It was then that David wrote Psalm 56 which reveals the fear that gripped him as he faced enemies who were drawn up on every side—a hateful and vengeful Saul on the one hand and a suspicious king of Gath on the other. By escaping into the land of Gath, David had only jumped from the frying pan into the fire. David’s response is not a nonchalant acceptance of his situation, but outright fear.

David’s solution to his problem was creative to say the least. He feigned insanity before the court of King Achish. He wanted the king to believe that he had no intention of treachery against him, so he acted like a crazed animal who was incapable of bringing any threat against the people of Gath. Achish bought the charade and told his officials to get him out of his sight.

If we only had the account in 1 Samuel, we would think David relied solely on his creative antics to escape the potential wrath of the king. But Psalm 56 reveals that despite his fear and the perceived hopelessness of his situation, David put his trust in the Lord. David never surrendered his hope. Although fear and hope seem contradictory, they are often companions in the Christian’s life. “The true proof of faith consists in this, that when we feel the solicitations of natural fear, we can resist them, and prevent them from obtaining an undue ascendancy. Fear and hope may seem opposite and incompatible affections, yet it is proved by observation, that the latter never comes into full sway unless there exists some measure of the former. In a tranquil state of the mind, there is no scope for the exercise of hope.” So said John Calvin. Hope is displayed, as in the case of David, when times are most fearful. When fear grips you, place your trust in the only One who can alleviate that fear and comfort you with His steadfast promise of peace and salvation.

What is the relationship between fear, trust, and faith? How do you deal with fear? Do you turn to God or dwell on your hopelessness circumstance? What other biblical characters exhibited fear yet turned to the Lord in times of distress? Think about what it means to trust in the Lord even when you’re afraid.