Psalm 56 – Fear and Trust

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

One of my good friends who is active in the program of Alcoholic’s Anonymous reminds me that fear is a major driving force in the life of an alcoholic or an addict. He has also helped me see the role of fear in the thinking that underlies some of my own decisions.

The AA Big Book states that we are “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity . . .” (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 62).

The Dream Center for Recovery comments, “As a people, we are filled with fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity. We attempt to control the world around us out of these twists of the mind and because of it, we always come into collision with ourselves, the world, and the people around us.”

If fear is an issue in your life, Psalm 56 is a prayer about how to trust God in the face of fear.

Real Trouble

Fear is a real issue in life. The situation of the speaker of Psalm 56 was quite threatening and serious.

Verse 1 – He was under attack and persecuted.

Verse 2 – He had many adversaries who were fighting against him.

Verse 6 – His enemies were thinking of ways to hurt him.

Verse 6 – His very life was in the balance.

Our fears may be different from the ones listed in Psalm 56.

Our enemy may be an invisible killer, the corona virus. It may be unemployment or job insecurity. It may be the fears of “what if” or “if only” thinking that causes anxiety and worry.

Whatever our fear may be, God can be trusted to come to our aid.

Trust and Assurance

Trust is to rely on someone or something for security. It is to place our lives in the hands of what we trust, depending on that someone or something for help.

Psalm 56 declares trust in God and in his promises.

I trust in God and am not afraid;
I praise him for what he has promised.
What can a mere human being do to me?
(Psalm 56.4)

I trusted my earthly father, because I knew him to be a man of integrity. He often said, “A man’s word is his bond.” Dad both spoke and lived by that principle.

As a child, he told me that he would take me to the county fair. At the last minute, my mother and he were invited to a party. He asked if he could take me to the fair the next day. I threw a childish fit and said, “No.”

He kept his word and took me to the fair without another word. We had a great evening at the fair and he never brought up the subject that I had kept my parents from a party. From this and many other instances, I learned that I could trust my father.

The reason why prayer and Bible reading is so important is that we get to know God in the moments of daily conversation. The more we know him, the better we can trust him when we are worried, anxious or threatened.

Isaiah knew God and was able to fully rely on God’s promise to him. This was God’s word to Isaiah and to the people of God.

Do not be afraid — I am with you!
I am your God — let nothing terrify you!
I will make you strong and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
I am the Lord your God;
I strengthen you and tell you,
‘Do not be afraid; I will help you.’
(Isaiah 41.10, 13)

If I could trust my father, because he took me to the county fair as a child, surely we can trust our loving heavenly Father who created the universe and provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Trust and God’s Care

It is one thing for someone to be truthful and honest. When we combine reliability with compassion, we have an excellent recipe for higher degrees of trust. Psalm 56 lets us know that God is both faithful to his promises and compassionate.

You know how troubled I am;
you have kept a record of my tears.
Aren’t they listed in your book?
I know this: God is on my side —
the Lord, whose promises I praise.
In him I trust, and I will not be afraid.
What can a mere human being do to me?
(Psalm 56.8, 9b, 10-11)

Some of the best news we can hear is that God keeps a record of our tears. He knows our names, our hopes, our dreams, and every tear that we have shed.

The last phrase in verse 9 is the ultimate expression of confidence and trust in God: “I know this: God is on my side.”

Paul may have been thinking of verse 9, when he wrote, “What can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8.31).

We talk about “whistling in the dark,” when we think we are trying to remain brave and convince ourselves that some situation is not as scary as it seems.

Prayer is not a way of “whistling in the dark.” It is a connection with an all-powerful God, who is compassionate toward us and able to save.

As we think about God’s love, compassion and abundant power, let’s trust God’s promise through Isaiah the prophet. God’s word is:

“Do not be afraid — I will save you.
I have called you by name — you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.”
(Isaiah 43.1-3)


God’s trustworthy nature and care should cause us to join the Psalm writer in thanksgiving and praise. The fact that his promises can be relied upon is another reason for gratitude.

O God, I will offer you what I have promised;
I will give you my offering of thanksgiving,
because you have rescued me from death
and kept me from defeat.
And so I walk in the presence of God,
in the light that shines on the living.
(Psalm 56.12-13)

What a beautiful way to end a Psalm! Let’s determine to walk in the presence of God in his light that shines on us.

We can eliminate fear and anxiety by trusting our lives to the Savior who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness” (John 8.12).

May We Pray for You?

The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team to pray, too.

1 Comment

  1. This phrase…..”Prayer is not a way of “whistling in the dark.” It is a connection with an all-powerful God, who is compassionate toward us and able to save.”

    When I say to someone that I will pray for them, or that I pray about a situation, this is what I mean. It’s not an empty phrase, because ours is not an empty God.

    It is by knowing God that Psalm 56 comes alive. It is knowing this that keeps me glorifying Him in this year of loss, grief, pandemic, and heartache. God is real. He can be trusted. He is in control.


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