How do we deal with the real presence of fear in our lives?

Should believers still struggle with fear? What purpose does fear play in our life? How should we handle fear when it creeps in? What a relief to know that both David and Paul feared at times, as we see in Romans and Psalms. Part of God's work in our lives is allowing circumstances that cause fear.

1 Samuel 21:10-14 give the context for Psalm 56. Running for his life from Saul, David was alone in enemy territory. His identity was revealed by the weapon he carried, a sword won when he killed Goliath -- the city's former champion. He had real reason to fear for his life.

Psalm 56 records what David was thinking during this time. The Hebrew word for fear conveys deep distress and pain, similar to what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 7:5. Unlike any other emotion, fear confronts us with the question of where we put our trust. David put it simply: "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in God!” To trust means to believe in a person or object to the point of reliance.

The Appraisal of Fear

David identifies man as the source of fear in the first verse. Fear reaches him in a personal, unrelenting, and intentional way.

The Machinery of Fear

David lists many things that produced fear in his heart: distorting words, evil motives, and lurking wickedness.

In the church era, God allows enemies into our lives and commands us to love them, be humble, and let God protect us.

The Antidote to Fear

The solution for David's fear was prayer to God and public confession of what he believed. He took confidence from his belief that God is omnisciently sovereign, personally attentive, and for us.

The chorus of this psalm is repeated in verses 10-11. We must come back to this refrain when fear plagues our mind and heart. David focuses on 3 things:

  1. God-centered. David placed his trust in the only reliable place.
  2. Word-centered. Reverence and respect for God and His terms does not yield the paranoia and entrapment that the fear of man produces.
  3. Worship-centered. An intellectual understanding of the Word moves the emotions out of fear into exaltation and praise of what God says about Himself, us, and our future.
  4. Will-centered. David's decision to trust God reined in his emotions.
The Assurance of Trust in God

As David went through the right thought process in Psalm 56, fear produced assurance! Trusting God through fear assures us that our relationship to God is a priority in our life; that God will ultimately deliver from the source, scope and machinery of fear; and assures us of our purpose in life.

Fear in life is unavoidable. God in His righteous sovereignty allows fear to force us to face the question of where we put our trust! God’s Word must so impact us by the power of the Holy Spirit that our fear turns to praise as we replace meditation on fearful circumstances with meditation on God’s Word.

Application Points

  • In your fearful moments, where do you put your trust?
  • The antidote to fear is centering on God, His Word, and worship. We must rehearse truths of God's Word and agree with Him even if we do not fully understand.
  • Does God's Word capture your affections? If your answer is "no," you are in a dangerous spiritual place. You will be lost in fear when fearful circumstances arise.
  • As you work through fearful circumstances, do not remove yourself from the faith community. Live with the family of believers who can direct you toward God and His Word.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Proverbs 9:10 – The appropriate fear.
  • 1 John 4:18 – The perfect love of Jesus Christ casts out fear.
  • John 8:12 – The light of life.
A Hymn to Encourage: "’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus"

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.