WHEN YOU ARE AFRAID

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Psalm 56:1–4 ESV
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; 2 my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
This Psalm lays out how we should respond to the fear that can arise in us when we are under attack. This is important for us as Christians because Jesus himself has spoken of how the world will treat us. John 15:18–19, 23 (ESV) — 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. John 17:14 (ESV) — I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
John 15:18–19 ESV
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
John 15:23 ESV
23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
John 17:14 ESV
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
The Psalmist is facing the hatred of men, men who are trampling and oppressing him all day long. It is here we see the humility and honesty of the Psalmist in his words, “When I am afraid…”. May the Lord help us to see how to overcome this fear when the world hates us.
I. WHEN I AM AFRAID.
A. Psalm 56:3 (ESV) — When I am afraid…
Psalm 56:3 ESV
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
B. Notice it is not if, but when.
C. Humility allows for the acknowledgement of fear.
D. Being a Christian does not mean you are given a reprieve from experiencing fear.
E. David was no braggart; he does not claim never to be afraid, and he was no brutish Stoic free from fear because of the lack of tenderness. David’s intelligence deprived him of the stupid heedlessness of ignorance; he saw the imminence of his peril, and was afraid.[1]
II. WHAT DO WE DO WHEN WE ARE AFRAID?
A. Psalm 56:3 (ESV) …I put my trust in you.
Psalm 56:3 ESV
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
B. I PUT MY TRUST IN YOU
C. When afraid, David purposely turned his gaze to the God he served and declared his trust in Him.
D. It is here that we see how a person can experience both fear and trust.
E. The fear moved David toward God, not away from Him. He knew the mercy and grace of God and therefore placed confidence in Him when he feared for his life.
F. Maintain faith, and we shall soon recover courage.[2]
III. TRUSTING GOD LEADS TO PRAISE
A. Psalm 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust…
Psalm 56:4 ESV
4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
B. David is led to praise as he thinks about God and His word of promise.
C. Faith in God will always lead to praise of God and obedience.
D. Psalm 56:12–13 (ESV) — 12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Psalm 56:12–13 ESV
12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
E. Where worship is absent, trust in God is missing.
IV. FEAR IS CONQUERED
A. Psalm 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 56:4 ESV
4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
B. I SHALL NOT BE AFRAID.
C. Trusting God and praising His word will conquer our fear.
D. David was facing enemies who had set their faces to destroy him.
E. Psalm 56:9–11 (ESV) — 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I 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; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 56:9–11 ESV
9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I 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; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
F. The Psalmist’s answer to the fear of man is to recognize the smallness of man in light of the greatness of God.
G. The question of fear also reminds us of Jesus’ words concerning who we should fear.
H. Matthew 10:24–31 (ESV) — 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:24–31 ESV
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
I. The fear of the Lord – standing in awe of His love for you and His watchful care of you – will deliver us from the fear of man.
J. Then we can fulfill the words of the Lord.
K. Luke 6:22, 27 (ESV) — 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!...27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… (see verses 28-36).
Luke 6:22 ESV
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Luke 6:27 ESV
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1993). Psalms (p. 228). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (1993). Psalms (p. 228). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
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