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What Time I am Afraid

 

1 Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. 2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. 3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. 5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God. 8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. 10 In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. 11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Ps. 56:1-13.)

 

I want to focus on v. 3 today: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” It seems that this verse oftentimes describes many of the saints of God. I will say that I feel like this verse may describe me most of the time. “What time I am afraid,” for me often translates into “All the time.”

 

Today I want to take a personal look at this verse and this passage of Scripture. I want us to consider our own lives, and consider the fear that is evident in our lives. What are we afraid of? What happens as a result of our fears? What is the condition of the saved – the followers of God in this life?

 

My Fearful Condition

 

1 Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. 2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.” (Ps. 56:1-2.) Life presents many challenges to us. Life has many foes,

 

dangers, and fearful situations. It seems we are constantly surrounded by sin and by the filth of this world. What can we do? Who can we turn to? This is my condition, and this is your condition – if you are saved by the grace of God. We follow after God, but sin and the enemies around us will destroy us if they can!

 

Well, in the case of David, we see that he cried out unto God for mercy. And, I know that in my case, this is what I ought to do as well. The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with the sorrows and the sins and the strife of this life. He was well aware of the present danger and the present conflict of sin – even in his saved condition, he knew that he must contend with sin. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:18-25.) What a fearful condition! And yet, we know that victory can and will be ours, through the power of the Son of God, and the salvation that has been accomplished on our behalf.

 

I Will Trust in God

 

3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Ps. 56:3-4.) Just as King David said, I, too can say that my only hope, is to trust in God. My only strength and my only place of refuge, is in God. My response to fear, is to trust in God. “What time I am afraid” what will I do? Do I give in to fear? Do I throw my hands up in despair? Do I leave God for the world? No! What time I am afraid, I will turn to God, and I will trust in Him.

 

We read the account of the Lord walking on the water, and coming to the disciples in the midst of the sea. 45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mk. 6:45-52.) Here we find out that the disciples were frightened when they saw the Lord Jesus walking on the sea. The Scripture in the Gospel of Mark says that they were troubled. (In John’s account we know that it says that they were afraid. In Matthew’s account we find that they were troubled and that they cried out for fear.) There is no doubt that fear is a challenge that we all face in our day to day lives. Well, what does the Lord say? Notice that in all three of these accounts these Words are used: be not afraid. Trust in God! The Lord Jesus is near! What could ail us, trouble us, or cause us to fear, when the Lord of all Creation is nigh? When fear comes upon you (and it will), then put your trust in God. The faithful saints that have gone on before, have put their trust in Him, and He has never failed them. Surely, He will not fail us.

 

                                                  The Evil Shall Not Escape

 

5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.” (Ps. 56:5-7.) The next couple of verses in our text do not apply so much to my fears, as they do to the persons that might be the cause of my fear. Remember, what time I am afraid, I will trust in God. And what time I am afraid, I need to realize that those that cause my fears, and those that rejoice in some god other than God, will all be cast down by God. In the previous chapter in the Book of Psalms, we read these words: “But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” (Ps. 55:23.)

 

I need to remember, when I am afraid, and it seems that I cannot escape conflict and strife – for it seems that all the world is against me for evil – that none of these evil men shall escape by iniquity. My escape (and yours as well) must be in God and in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ! My escape must be in the Grace and the Salvation of the Living God! Though my body may be persecuted, afflicted, destroyed, or even burned at the stake (as so many have been before me), still, my escape is not in the flesh or in this world; my escape is in the One Whom I trust for all things – Jesus Christ.

 

I Will Shed Tears

 

8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Ps. 56:8-9.) I know of a certainty, that the life that I live in this world, is one of wanderings. Though I may live in the same place for an extended period of time; and though I may have connections and attachments that apparently bind me to a particular place and time; still, I know that this world is not my home. This is only the place of my sojourning in the Cause of Christ.

 

As I wander through this world, I have no doubt that I will shed many tears. (See Ps. 39:12.) I reckon that those of you that are saved will freely acknowledge that this world is a place of sorrow and tears. Sure, the wicked may have some success – but they too, at times, will weep. And, though many in Christianity may promise us happiness and peace in this life, I know that faithful service unto God will bring sorrow and suffering and many tears in this life. How can we not cry, when we see the world of men rejecting Jesus Christ? How can we not weep, when we see our own families and relatives caught up in the things of the flesh, to the exclusion of the things of Heaven and of God? How can we not shed tears when we see our own selves being deterred from serving God, and our own lives being affected by the sin and the contamination of the wicked world around us? How can we not cry when we see the troubles within and the trials without? And, of course we know that we will shed tears as we endure the pain and sorrows of sickness, death, and the misery that we all encounter in this life.

 

Well, I know that the Lord is aware of my situation. I know that He is a kind, compassionate, caring, and merciful God.  And, I know that that the Lord knows where and when I wander on this earth. I know that the Lord – even now – is putting my tears into His bottle. And, I know that when I cry unto God, that He will hear me, and He will preserve me and will turn back those that would destroy me. What time I am afraid, I will weep and I will cry out unto God!

 

My God is for Me

 

“When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Ps. 56:9.) To continue my previous point, I need to remember (just as David did), that my God is for me. In reality, what does it matter who mine enemies are, as long as God is for me? I mean, really, even if every person and every fallen angel, and every part of this creation is against me – what does it matter as long as God is for me? This is the solution for fear, and the foundation for trust: The enemies are against me, but God is for me!

 

You know, King David was not the only child of God who occasionally feared the world and what might happen to him; and, I am not the only one since King David who has experienced fear in this life. I am reminded of the famous words of the Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans: 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:31-39.) When I am afraid, I will remember that God is for me.

 

I am His

 

10 In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. 11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.” (Ps. 56:10-12.) Sometimes in this life, I am afraid of the convictions and the beliefs and the teachings that I hold dear. What if I am wrong? What if the way and the type of my worship of God is not what He would desire from me? Well, what time I am afraid, I will praise his word, which teaches me truth, doctrine and God. I won’t be afraid of the ridicule or the contempt of men. I won’t be afraid that others will ostracize me or condemn my worship of God. Instead, I will rejoice in the Word of God, I will seek to know it and to love it, and I will put my trust in God and His Word! I will serve and love Him as His Word prescribes, and I will trust that my God knows best.

 

The Lord Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Mt. 24:35.) David said, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Ps. 119:89.) What time I am afraid in the spirit and in my service that I render unto God, I will trust even more in Him, and I will (Lord willing) study and pray even more, so that my hope and my trust in God will be stayed upon the Holy Word of God. As David said,  Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.

 

He Will Deliver Me

 

“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Ps. 56:13.) Finally, today, I want to remind myself (and you) that God is the ultimate Deliverer. Though there are many causes of fears and troubles in this life, there is only one Cause or Source of eternal peace and happiness – that is Jesus Christ our Saviour and Deliverer. Isn’t it marvelous that He has delivered my soul from death? Isn’t it wonderful that He will deliver my feet from falling? What a blessing it is, to know that He has saved me so that I may walk before God in the light of the living! (See also Ps. 116:8-9.)

 

It may seem that the men of this world have some success at times – and I may be tempted to become envious of their successes, their seeming peace, and their apparent happiness. But, in the end (as we have already noticed), none of these will be delivered. We read in Eccl. 8:8-13, “8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. 9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt. 10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity. 11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.”

 

Sometimes I am afraid, and doubt will creep into my life. At times it seems that my heart is troubled with the prospect of falling or failing my Lord God. Well, I trust in God that I can never utterly fall. I trust in God that I will persevere. Not because of any good or any ability in me – surely, I am the worst and the weakest of men! But, I know – despite all of the doubt and the fears that may afflict me – that God will preserve me and deliver me: 11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. 12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. 13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. 14 O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. 15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. 16 O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. 17 Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.” (Ps. 86:11-17.)

 

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