Fear, it has been said, is a primary emotion. That is to say that it is one of the basic and fundamental emotions we feel as humans in response to situations that seem beyond our control and beyond our ability to cope. In December of 2008 we do not have to use our imaginations to conjure up such situations, rather the current condition of the US economy provides the ready example. We may be facing the loss of a job or the potential loss of a job or someone close to us may be facing it. If we have not lost a job, nevertheless, we may be facing a very uncertain future in terms of our financial security and capability. Various things we believed had a certain value such as a home or a retirement plan, now have much less value and it is not clear when or if these things will regain the value they once had. And, the precise meaning of these things for our everyday lives is, once again, uncertain. It is thus not hard to imagine what it means to experience fear.
In the scriptures, we see responses to fear in both the Old Testament, such as Psalm 56, and the New Testament such as Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The superscription for Psalm 56 indicates that it is a Psalm of David, “when the Philistines had seized him Gath.” David had fled from Saul and arrived in Gath, one of the principal Philistine cities. Because he had led Israel in a great victory over the Philistines, he was afraid of their reaction to him and he pretended to be insane. Later he escaped the city. In verse 3 he writes, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Charles Spurgeon had this to say about this verse:
It is possible, then, for fear and faith to occupy the mind at the same moment. We are strange beings, and our experience in the divine life is stranger still. We are often in a twilight, where light and darkness are both present, and it is hard to tell which predominates. It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust. Unregenerate fear drives from God, gracious fear drives to him. If I fear man I have only to trust God, and I have the best antidote. To trust when there is no cause for fear, is but the name of faith, but to be reliant upon God when occasions for alarm are abundant and pressing, is the conquering faith of God’s elect. Though the verse is in the form of a resolve, it became a fact in David’s life, let us make it so in ours. Whether the fear arise from without or within, from past, present, or future, from temporals, or spirituals, from men or devils, let us maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage.
The central faith lesson here concerns where we place our faith, especially in difficult and threatening times. Commentator J. Clinton McCann writes, “In other words, the psalmist professes that true security is a divine gift rather than a human achievement” (Psalms, 902). David has clearly learned this in circumstances and threats that thankfully we are not likely to face. Yet, in any given moment we do face threats that seem completely overwhelming and his words in Psalm 56 provide guidance and comfort.
In Septuagint it is “for the people far removed from the sanctuary”
“” J. Clinto McCann, p. 902
v. 6 the fundamental mistake of the wicked is they think they can make it on their own and often through exploiting others
“Walking in darkness with God’s light” title for psalm by William VanGemeren
BTrust in God 3-4
CAffliction and Imprecation 5-9a
BTrust in God 9b-11
V3 faith is seen here as a deliberate act in defiance of ones feelings
All day long – it is unrelenting which is a big factor
What do you make of the verse that God records our tears?
Does being afraid typically cause you to trust in God more or less?
Is it harder or easier to choose faith when you are afraid?
If God is with us why do we fear human threats so much
Can head knowledge of God alleviate fear or not?
Which of the following five statements on fear do you like best and why?
“Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered and no one was there”
“Fear not; the things you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of” John Macmurray
“Jesus came treading the waves; and so he puts all the swelling tumults of life under his feet. Christians – why afraid?” Augustine
Superscription connects this with David in Gath – 1 Sam 21: 10-14