Read Psalm 56
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
1 Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
2 My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
5 All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
6 They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.
8 Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll]—
are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
David starts this passage by describing all of the reasons he has to be afraid: His enemies are in hot pursuit, his words are being twisted, and his life is in danger. Things aren’t looking good for him! In fact, David is so scared that he writes this chapter while in tears (v. 8). This is a reminder to us that there will be times in life when we can’t just put a smile on and move forward. We will have moments that shake us to our core. However, Psalm 56 is a reminder to us that we don’t have to stay in that terror.
While David’s situation is dreadful, he shows us the process of finding faith amidst the fear. After he lists out of all the ways that humanity is working against him, David also lists out all the ways that God is working for him! God has recorded David’s tears. God has delivered David from death. God has kept David’s feet from stumbling. So with this in mind, David is able to declare “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” (v. 11).
When our days feel dark, it’s easy to list out the ways in which our situation is scary. Maybe our finances aren’t adding up. Our relationships aren’t fulfilling. Our job makes us feel like a failure. But on those days when we find ourselves listing out the fears of life, start listing out our reasons for faith in God. In the midst of our fear, our faith can still shine through. We can remind ourselves that even when our world feels uneasy, we never found our peace in this world anyway! In the unsteadiness of life, we must recall the steadfast nature of our Savior. Even if the worst comes our way, we can trust that God has promised us everlasting life. So with the promises of God in mind, what can man do to us?
- Why is it sometimes easier to focus on our situation than it is to focus on the character of God?
- David moves from crying in misery in verse 8 to declaring that he is not afraid in verse 11. What do you think changed his mindset?
- David writes in verses 10 and 12 that his praise and thank offerings went alongside his renewed confidence. What do you have to praise and thank God for today?