Psalm 56 is about trusting in God. Over the years of my faith journey, I must acknowledge that the most difficult thing for me to do is trust in God. Trusting in God doesn’t get any easier, even though I have been rescued from disaster over and over again. I think I am pretty normal in this regard because the most repeated lines in the Bible are “do not be afraid.” We are all pretty much a fearful humanity. Not that there isn’t plenty to be afraid of in terms of violence, enemies, illness, and death. But ultimately, we can grow in faith to develop the kind of trust in God that helps us live our lives more confidently and without fear.
Psalm 56 reveals to me the kind of faith journey that should be my focus in learning to trust in God. The response “In God I trust; I shall not fear” seems to me to be a kind of a prayer more than a statement of faith certainty. When we read the entire Psalm, it seems like the Psalmist is holding a conversation with God that recounts a relationship with God in which the Psalmist gets closer and closer to trusting in God. The first stanza acknowledges human difficulties. We have problems and adversities and they overwhelm us. This stanza also acknowledges that we seek God’s mercy in the midst of these troubles. We all can relate to this condition of our human existence. While we are at the mercy of God, we need not be at the mercy of our adversaries. Our response should be trust in God, even when we feel overwhelmed.
The second stanza recognizes that God knows all about our problems. God knows all the details even before we call on God for help. Do our enemies really turn back when we call on God or does it just seem that way because when we trust in God, we shall not fear? I can certainly relate to that. My fears are made worse when I focus on them instead of the knowledge that God knows all about my predicaments. The third stanza reveals a growing closeness to God. When we acknowledge that God is with us, when we trust the promise of God, when we trust without fear, what harm can come to us? Here is the challenge. If we haven’t had experiences of learning to trust, we can’t grow in our faith. We must grow through our experiences of adversity by recognizing that God was always with us and brought us through.
The last stanza reminds us that we have a duty to thank God for all the times God has rescued us and kept us from stumbling. Instead of focusing on our fears, we should focus on our deliverance and give thanks. I know that is difficult to do but I also know that it does work when I do it. I do believe that adversity does diminish when we trust in God to help us through it. Walking before God in the light of the living is a matter of living without fear. But fearlessness isn’t about the self-confidence of arrogant self-centeredness. It is about confidence in centeredness with God in whose promise we can glory. So today I pray with the Psalmist and each of you “In God I trust; I shall not fear.” May this prayer help us all walk more confidently before God as we grow in our faith journeys. Amen.