In God I Trust
To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths [seems to be a melody or musical setting appointed for the rendition of the psalm]. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
1Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.
3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
5All day long they injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life.
7For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
9Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.
10In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
12I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.
13For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Here we have another psalm that is directly attached to an event from David’s life. He spent 10 years running from the murderous King Saul. During that time, he was so afraid of Saul that he ran to another enemy, the Philistines. When he came to Philistia, King Achish had him arrested. This was, after all, the man who had killed the Philistine giant, Goliath. David feigns madness to get himself released.
1 Samuel 21:10–15
10And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” 12And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
This psalm seems to rock back and forth between outright fear of man and confident trust in God. Ultimately, David arrives on the side of trust for that is where the true strength lies. While the man can certainly hurt us physically, that is all they can do. If we rest securely in God’s hands, what else do we need? But – I will freely admit, finding that place of trust can be difficult. For every step of faith we take, the enemy might knock us back two. Confidence in God is built with experience. When we are fearful, looking back over all that He has already done for us (and others) can really chase away that fear. The Apostle Paul even falls back on this concept in Romans.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
In 1956, “In God We Trust” was adopted as the official motto of the United States. Sadly, it only took 60 years for that motto to be cast aside by a great portion of the population. That is rather tragic. David describes what life is like when we trust in ourselves or other people. It is desperate and terrifying. But we don’t have to make that choice. Instead, we can turn to the God of all Creation and seek His help and protection. We turn our need for revenge or retribution over to Him as well and just leave it all in His hands. Suddenly, our fear dissipates and we are comforted by our Lord. By the blood of Jesus we are free to always turn to God because we are bought by that blood and free to live as His children, secure and unafraid.