2022-06-19 “When I Am Afraid…”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                            Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                         June 19, 2022

When I Am Afraid…”
Psalm 56:3-4

Christian children’s videos have formed an important part of our family’s life—especially when our children were small. Among those videos is Hide ‘Em in Your Heart, which features the vocal talents of Steve Green. In the video, Mr. Green, aided by several children, sang short Scripture memory songs—with short videos to reinforce the Scripture of each song. One such song from the collection, which spoke to me powerfully this week, is “When I Am Afraid,” based upon Psalm 56:3-4.

The video accompanying “When I Am Afraid” opens with a girl, about eight years old, asleep in her room at night. Soon the lightning flashes and the thunder crashes—and she, upon waking, is afraid. She grabs the teddy bear at hand, but—for all his other merits—teddy bear avails not to assuage her fear. She then thinks to turn on her bedside lamp and to open her bedside Bible. She finds Psalm 56:3-4 and reads the words silently while her finger works down the lines. She obviously takes comfort from what she reads. Soon after, little brother, about six years old and appearing fearful, enters the room. Big sister bids him welcome, and the video ends with the lamp off, both children asleep, and the teddy bear and Bible between them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our fears were confined to our childhood—but, alas, this is not the case. We, too, have things and folks we fear. This is true even among the male of our species—who routinely denies said fear. We’ll note today that one of the bravest men who ever lived struggled against fear, and we’ll note how he gained the victory. Therefore, on this Father’s Day, in the year of grace 2022, let’s hear a good word from our Heavenly Father about this.


We hardly can believe our eyes when we read today’s text—indeed, as we note the whole of Psalm 56. Is this David, fearing? Is this David, who fought the lion and bear, to protect the sheep, fearing? Is this David, who slew Goliath, fearing? It is indeed David, and David fears for good reason—for he has enemies all around. This Psalm rises from a time when David found himself on the run from Saul, his king and father-in-law, who seeks to kill him. It also rises from a time when David found himself in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath—and no doubt many there remember David for ill and hope to avenge Goliath’s death in battle. Hence, even David, the man after God’s own heart, fell prey to fear.

Note the behavior of the enemies inducing David’s fear in Psalm 56. David complains, accurately and righteously, how his enemies oppress and trample him (1-2). He laments that his enemies twist his words and think only evil concerning him (5). He piles up the nefarious acts executed against him, such as his enemies stirring up strife, lurking against him, watching his steps, and lying in wait to take his life (6). Such would engender fear in the hardiest of us.

Yet note David’s Spirit-led confession. Quite literally, David confesses, “When (not if) I shall be afraid, I shall trust in You.” Again, David has much cause, humanly speaking, for fear, yet, in the face of this he shall trust, and be confident, and be secure. The source of this trust is not himself, but it is the Lord, Whose Word he praises. This Word, the Word of God, holds forth God’s truth and promises—and it directs us back to God Himself in every time and eventuality. Therefore, David, through the Holy Spirit, confesses, “I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” The answer to David’s question, at one level, is, “Plenty.” At a deeper level, in view of God’s greatness and incredible ability to care for His own, the answer to the question is, “Nothing.”

David is not the only Scripture luminary to experience fear. We see Abraham afraid at the prospect of being killed due to the beautiful Sarah being his wife (Genesis 12:10 ff). His son, Isaac, felt a similar for a similar reason—in his case, because to the fair Rebekah being his wife (Genesis 26:6 ff.). As noted in this pulpit more than once, Elijah, immediately after his victorious contest with the prophets of Baal, ran for his life after Jezebel’s threat upon his life (1 Kings 19:1 ff.). Even Jesus’ disciples, considered in the aggregate, experienced fear. At the storm in the boat (Matthew 8:23 ff.), they expressed the fear, crying in the King’s English, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” At Jesus’ betrayal, all forsook Him and fled, and Peter expressed his fear of reprisal from the Jewish and Roman authorities by thrice denying his Lord.

Hence, we see—even upon spiritual giants—that fear is common to man (and to woman). What frightens you? Do the things that other people do to you—or the threat of what they might do to you—make you afraid. Are there other things, independent of personal interaction, which cause you fear? Maybe concerns about your physical health grow and grow into fear. Maybe concerns about your material provision, or possible lack thereof, gnaw at your soul and grow into fear. Even concerns about the hot summer weather, whether endured last week, or dreaded this week, or the rest of the summer, etc., fill your heart with fear. Perhaps the fearful thing is something else altogether.

In any case, let David’s Spirit-led confession be our Spirit-led confession—and your Spirit-led confession: When I shall be afraid, I shall trust in You—You, the triune God, Whose Word I praise, Whose Word never fails, because You never fail. Therefore, we say with the author of Hebrews (in 13:6), “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” May the Lord, by His sweet, powerful, grace, make this your confession today—and may this be your confession all the more over time.