How Do We Trust God When We are Afraid? #260

Hello friends and happy Saturday to you! We have some great reader feedback to get to, so we’ll use that as our opener, so no goofy banter from me today – hooray!

Podcast listener and friend Jesse ‘Top Secret’ W. writes in with a couple of comments – a question and a comment, actually.

Jesse R. Worrell: Curious question – 1 Samuel 21:12-15 David acts like a madman – drooling over his beard and acting crazy such that Achish – King of Gath asks his men why they brought this crazy person to him. Then in 1 Samuel 27:1-12 – David again flees to the Philistines and King Achish. So how is it that David – lives in Gath with his 2 wives and 600 men and mentions in verse 5 that he has found favor with Achish? What is the explanation of why a madman would now find favor with King Achish?

This is a fascinating question for us to deal with today, Jesse, because we are reading Psalms 56 today, which, is a Psalm, “For the choir director: according to “A Silent Dove Far Away.” A Miktam of David. When the Philistines seized him in Gath.” Unlike most chapter titles in the Bible, the titles of the Psalms, like the one above, are actually part of the Holy Scriptures. This tells us that initially David was in fact seized by the Philistines. They didn’t receive him at first, but captured him, and took him to the king – something that 1st Samuel 21 doesn’t explicitly indicate. That, however, doesn’t answer your question. Psalms 34 might have a clue in it, however: 

Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will boast in the Lord;
the humble will hear and be glad.
Proclaim the Lord’s greatness with me;
let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears.

Psalms 34:1-4

This passage indicates that it was God who rescued David, not his silly ploy. Could it also indicate that God inspired David’s ruse? Not sure – maybe, maybe not, but it was God who did the rescuing. It is worth remembering here that David was not making great decisions. He lied to the priest Ahimelech, and fled to Gath, the place of his greatest enemies. Maybe the fear of being chased by Saul was gnawing at his mind and contributing to those poor decisions? Unfortunately, the Bible does not fully explain the second part of your question: Why did Achish eventually trust David and honor him, and bless him with a whole city in Ziklag? In a human sense, perhaps Achish thought David’s “insanity” was an explanation for his defection, and he thought it not wise to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak. If the equivalent of a Heisman-trophy winning warrior and commander such as David wanted to play for the Philistines for a season, then Coach Achish was pragmatic enough to bring him on board, and hand him the football! In a Divine sense, however, I am quite certain that God prevailed on Achish’s heart and caused all of these things to work together for good.

Shredded Wheat also makes large biscuit like cereal like Weetabix. Time for a taste test between the two? 

Great plan, Jesse! I am headed to the store soon to give it a shot. Hope the roof of my mouth can handle it!

If you decide to review vegamite, I’m told that you should apply it thinly and taste it gingerly. Also, I think that last remark on 1 Cor. 15 was a Pre-Chase Doctrine… a Don-Francisco lyric from the eighties, if I recall. Very meta to embed a passage in a discussion of an embedded passage. A quick note on “Ish-Bosheth” … “Bosheth” means shame. IshBosheth’s name was originally Ishba’al, but the author of 1&2 Chronicles did not want to admit that a King of Israel had given his son a name compounded with ba’al. Thus they substituted “shame,” creating the “shameful name,” Ishbosheth.
Great insights, WWH!!
Our Bible readings for the day include the aforementioned Psalms 56, our focus passage, plus Psalms 57, 2nd Corinthians 1, Ezekiel 15 and 2nd Samuel 1, which – shocker of shockers – NOBODY DIES!
Our Bible question is an important one and very practical. David, in a situation facing enemies on EVERY side, proclaims, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you!” And, indeed – David did just that. He did indeed trust in the Lord when he was afraid…but that it most certainly easier said than done – HOW do we trust in the Lord when we are afraid? Doesn’t the very nature of fear and being afraid actually make it quite difficult for us to trust in the Lord in that moment? I know it does for me!
I may have told this story before, and if I have, forgive me – after 260 episodes, it is easy to lose track. About 12 years ago, I went through a significant and extended season of fear for the first time in my life. I was kind of a basket case, but because I was a pastor, I felt like I had to put on a brave face and hide it. The majority of the fear hit me at night, and it was crippling. I tossed and turned and fretted in bed so much, that I stopped sleeping in bed with my wife (not at her request) just so I wouldn’t keep her awake. Eventually that season passed, but the only way I was able to make it through at all was the same way that David did – pretty much every time that fear hit me, I sought to put my trust in the Lord. For me, that looked like getting into the Word of God and reading chapter after chapter and praying. Some nights, I literally fell asleep on the Bible. As we have discussed before, faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God, says Paul in Romans, and I was lacking greatly in faith, so I had to go constantly to the source of faith  – the Word of God – and consume it daily. I was like a person on heavy Oxygen and life support, but my life support was God’s Word. I think this is how David did it too – trusting in God through His Word:
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere humans do to me?
Psalms 56:10-11
Let’s turn to Spurgeon for the final word on trusting God when afraid:

David says, “I am afraid.” Admire his honesty in making this confession. Some men would never have owned that they were afraid; they would have blustered, and said they cared for nothing; generally, there is no greater coward in this world than the man who never will own that he is afraid. But this hero of a thousand conflicts, this brave scion of the sons of men, honestly says, “I am afraid.”

I know your fears, your doubts, your tremblings. Let me whisper in your ear this word,—“Now that you are afraid, put your trust in Jesus. Christ came to save sinners such as you are with all your fear. Now, while your fears toss you to and fro, go to Jesus—

“While the raging billows roll,
While the tempest still is high.”

Hang all your weight upon the Lover of souls now. Do not wait till you get rid of your fears, and then go to him; go now.
A lady was once walking in a field, and a bird flew right into her bosom. She wondered why the little lark came nestling there; but, looking up, she saw a hawk in the air; it had pursued the little bird, which, though it would have been quite afraid at any other time to find a shelter where it did find it, had by the greater fear of its enemy been driven out of the lesser fear. She to whom it fled for refuge cared for it, cherished it, and set it free. So be it with thee. Let thy great fears of hell overcome that fear that thou hast sometimes had, that perhaps Jesus may reject thee. Fly into his bosom. “Oh! but I fear that he will reject me.” Well, then, I trust that your other fears will get so great as to overcome this fear. John Bunyan says that his fear of hell at last became so terrible that if Jesus Christ had stood with a naked sword in his hand, or if he had held a pike to him, he would have run on the point of the pike, and would always rather go to an angry Christ than be cast into hell. But, believe me, Christ is not angry. He holds no pike and no sword in his hand. This is his word of promise, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Aged sinner, you who have been a great transgressor, whoever you may be, if you come and simply cast yourself upon the blessed Saviour who on the cross offered up himself for human guilt, you shall be saved…
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” I dare to say these ancient words to-night from the depths of my soul. I am afraid of my sins; I am afraid of my unworthiness; I never live a day but what I see reason to be afraid; if I had to stand all by myself, I should be afraid to stand before God. If I had never done anything in my life but preach this one sermon, there have been so many imperfections and faults in it that I am afraid to place any reliance upon it; but, my Lord Jesus, thou art my soul’s only hope, I trust entirely in thee.
Beloved, have this same faith. May God work it in you, and then your fear shall only drive you closer to your Lord, and so the fear and the faith shall go on hand in hand together for a while, till at last perfect love shall come in, and take the place of fear, and then faith and love shall go hand in hand to heaven.
May the Lord bless every one of you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon, “Faith Hand in Hand with Fear,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 57 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1911), 273–274.

 


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