Psalm 56:3: When You’re Afraid Trust in God

About one year ago while lying in bed I whispered to God in desperation: I am so afraid.”  It was the most heightened sense of dread I had ever experienced (and I and my household had already made it through some pretty horrific times over the last half decade).

Then the voices of children from a Psalm CD we often listen to came to me: When I am afraid, I will trust in you God.”  Singing these words lifted me out of bed to do what had to be done. 

So may you in any trial recite Psalm 56:3 for your resolve: What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  It teaches us that when Christians are scared of what people will do to them they must strengthen themselves in God.

There are times when you will feel terrified by whats happening to you.  What should you do?  When Youre Afraid Trust in God.[1]

There are many times you will be very afraid of people and problems pressing in on you.

Imagine that everyone around you is coming to kill you.  You would not likely sleep soundly unless you know your rescue is raising dust smoke on the horizon.

Davids situation in this Psalm is imminently dangerous and terrifying.  The Geneva Bible Study Notes of Reformation times explain, He shows that if God will help him, it must be now or never for all the world is against him and ready to devour him.[2]  This context is clear from the title: … Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.[3]  Thus he cries out in verses 1-2 and 5-6 for God’s speedy deliverance because his daily experience is being surrounded by enemies gathering together to “swallow him up” in a fight.

So when David says, What time I am afraid” hes saying, right now!  “At this very moment I am surrounded and petrified.”  Perhaps his original notes for this Psalm would have shown his pen had quivered while he hastily laid down his thoughts with trembling hands and rapid breathing.  Great terror was upon him in the midst of a troublous time.  He begged God for immediate intervention and quickening.

You will have such trials and trepidation.  When you are deeply and terribly frightened.  What do you do?  Let David guide you.

When you have fear rising up in you replace it with increased faith in God.

Just as David lifted his eyes up to the hills and then straight up into the heavens in Psalms 121 and 123 so you can get your eyes off of yourself and your situation and up unto God to get up and move forward.[4]

Fear is your situation.  Faith is your solution.  That is, trusting or believing God.  This is a volitional act. So David proclaims to himself before God,I will”.  Faith relies on the Lord by choosing to pray, sing, and study instead of worrying, fretting, and fleeing. 

Notice especially how much Gods Word is spoken of frequently in this Psalm to conquer fear and foes.  God’s Word gives David the words of verses 9-10 and 12-13 which offer conviction of victory over his enemies because he knows his Jehovah God is for him (the same sentiment of Romans 8:31-39).

And so David resolves to be courageous in verses 4 and 11:  In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me … In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.  Notice horrible things are happening  yet here he lives out Christ’s guidance in Matthew 10:28.

Jesus tells you also to trust Him to bring peace just as He did for the disciples in Matthew 8:26: ... Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.    

Last year at this time I had no idea what would be the outcome of facing my fearful storm.  But I kept clinging to the words of Psalm 56:3 and climbing by them.  I am thankful to report that God delivered me in ways more wonderfully and swiftly than I could have imagined.

Don’t let fear cause you to flee (and get further away from God).  Dont fear the Devil. Let him flee from you as you ask Christ to increase your faith.  When Youre Afraid Trust in God.

Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Evangelical Church of America in San Diego, CA, since 2010.  He and his wife, Fernanda, have five covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, and Gabriel (and they are expecting their next covenant son, Gideon, November 10!).  He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.

[1] For the author’s sermon by the same name which this article is based on, visit

[2] Source: BibleWorks.

[3] For more context see 1 Samuel 21:10-11; 22:1

[4] See the author’s sermon on the theme of lifting up our eyes to God with these two Psalms together here:


Grant Van Leuven