Jesus asleep during storm at sea

Psalm 56 – I Will Not Be Afraid

In Mark 4:40 Jesus asks His disciples, "Why are you so afraid?" What a powerful question! What is it in life that causes you to be afraid? Are you afraid of financial loss? Sickness? Personal embarrassment? What is it you most fear in life?


Psalm 56 is divided into two parts with the central theme being found at verse 8a.

You have kept count of my tossings

David is confident that God has noticed his troubles and kept track of every tear.

But the key element is the repeated refrain that is found at the center of both parts - in verse 4 and verses 10-11. This refrain is highlighted both times by a change of address from talking to God to talking about God. It is in this short refrain that we learn how David conquered his fears.


In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples were afraid because of a storm that was ready to sink their boat. In Psalm 56 David is concerned about enemies that literally are seeking to kill him. This psalm appears to have been written during the events recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. David is fleeing from Saul and hides in the one place no one would expect to find him: Gath, the Philistine home town of the giant Goliath - the giant he killed.

I assume David thought, "What better place to hide from the King of Israel than a city controlled by the enemy of Israel?" The problem with hiding in Gath, though, is that he is carrying Goliath's sword, which was probably unique, and he is too famous a warrior to not be recognized. The Philistines seize him and bring him before their king. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Now your troubles may not be as life threatening as David's, but we all have situations that cause us fear.

"Why are you afraid?"

Be Merciful to Me

Psalm 56:1-7

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me; Psalm 56:1

David is struggling with fear and pleads for God's help. It appears that everyone is out to get him. His very own king is trying to kill him and so he flees only to be caught by his former enemies. I think he has good reason to fear. So what is David's response?

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Wow! Such a simple, yet profound response. Over and over in the psalms we are reminded that the answer to most of our problems is faith. Do I trust God?

And now we come to the key phrase of this psalm. It is a refrain that is found at the center of both halves of this psalm.

In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4

Three things stand out to me in this refrain:

  1. Begin with Praise. David once again reminds us that praise is not only reserved for good times. It is absolutely essential to practice praise during the hard times. It keeps our focus on God. (See Psalm 50:33)
  2. Overcome Fear with Faith. I like that David admits his fear in verse 3. "When I am afraid..." Yet in verse 4 he tells us he will not be afraid. David is not saying he does not ever experience the emotion of fear. He is saying that he is going to choose faith over fear. Fear + Faith = Peace.
  3. Recognize Who is in Control. David reminds us that the problems we face are nothing in comparison to the God we trust. "What can flesh do to me?" Ultimately, in David's life and in our life, God is in control.

Before we move on to the second section let's get real. David had a promise from God that he would one day be king. With that promise he could trust that God would deliver him from these men. But what about us?

Will God always deliver me from every trouble? If I am sick will He always heal me? If I am in danger will He always protect me from harm? Of course not. If that were true than no sincere believer would ever be sick or die or suffer any harm.

So what are we trusting God to do?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

God has promised that He will take every trouble in your life and work it out for good. We need to trust that God will not waste any of our hurts. He can and will use them to accomplish good in our lives and those around us if we will only trust Him.

Put My Tears in Your Bottle

Psalm 56:8-13

You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8

God is not unaware of your trials. He has recorded every tear and sees your pain. Not only does He recognize your pain, but God has experienced your pain. Jesus lived here on earth and suffered for you. He knows physical and emotional pain intimately. God is not a dispassionate observer.

Once more David repeats the key truth:

In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me? Psalm 56:10-11


Why am I afraid? Do I trust God?

Two simple questions that can change your life.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Psalms and tagged .