Bible Study 20th October 2020 Handling Fear


Perfect Love - Handling Fear 


Psalm 56[a].  For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam.[b] When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.


1 Be merciful to me, my God,

    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;

    all day long they press their attack.

2 My adversaries pursue me all day long;

    in their pride many are attacking me.

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

4     In God, whose word I praise—

in God I trust and am not afraid.

    What can mere mortals do to me?

5 All day long they twist my words;

    all their schemes are for my ruin.

6 They conspire, they lurk,

    they watch my steps,

    hoping to take my life.

7 Because of their wickedness do not[c] let them escape;

    in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

8 Record my misery;

    list my tears on your scroll[d]—

    are they not in your record?

9 Then my enemies will turn back

    when I call for help.

    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,

    in the Lord, whose word I praise—

11 in God I trust and am not afraid.

    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;

    I will present my thank offerings to you.

13 For you have delivered me from death

    and my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before God

    in the light of life.


a.Psalm 56:1 In Hebrew texts 56:1-13 is numbered 56:2-14.

b.Psalm 56:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term

c.Psalm 56:7 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text does not have do not.

d.Psalm 56:8 Or misery; / put my tears in your wineskin



Key Verse: Psalm 56:3- When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 


Psalm 56 is known as a “Prayer Song”. The majority of these prayer songs speak of deliverance from accusation and persecution (Pss 3-5, 7, 9-13, 17, 22, 25-27, 31, 35, 42, 43, 54-59, 62-64, 69-71, 86, 94, 109, 120, 139-43) and indeed, Psalm 56 also does this, in these words penned by King David, on the occasion  when the Philistines had seized him in Gath. He was understandably anxious and fearful as to what might happen to him and to those he loved! As these events unfolded, King David clearly felt that somehow he was at the center of a lethal plot and that his life was in danger . (56:5-6; All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.). And yet, amidst this dark, fear induced, “night of the soul”, King David did not succumb to depression and defeat, but rather instead, turned, in hope, to the Lord for help.

Matthew Henry, the Bible commentator notes that in this Psalm 56, and indeed in many other psalms, that “even in times of the greatest trouble and distress David never ‘hung up his harp upon the willow-trees’, never unstrung it or laid it by; but that when his dangers and fears were greatest he was still in tune for singing God’s praises’.

Subsequently these words of Psalm 56 have been sung and chanted from King David’s time onwards, until now, by both Jews (through Temple and a Synagogue worship) and by Christians alike (as part of church worship) to celebrate and rejoice in God, even during similar fearful and difficult times; to praise Him for what He has done and, in faith, to trust Him for what He will do in the future. 

This week as the latest Coronavirus restrictions take force in the United Kingdom, and the incidence of this awful illness seems, once again to be increasing, it is easy for us to feel fearful. These are indeed worrying times when fear can stalk our minds and hearts. Such fear can grip our lives, and, if we are not careful, can affect and dominate our outlook and behaviour. But, thank God, this does not have to be. 1 John 4:18 reminds us that knowing the Love of God in our lives makes all the difference for, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..”.

 Richard Dehaan, writing in this week's reflection “Finding Hope in the Psalms” addresses this topic of how people handle fear and stress. He writes, “Some years ago as I lay in a hospital bed, I overheard two women talking in a waiting room outside my door. Evidently the husband of one of them was in a critical condition. She had been under extreme stress and was greatly concerned about his recovery. She said to her friend, “You know, when you’re as worried as I am, you just have to smoke!”

That made me think about how people handle their fears. Some turn to alcohol, others turn to food and some to busyness. The psalmist gave us a better solution to the problem of fear. He said “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). It’s tragic when we turn to something other than the Lord to fill the void or cover up the pain we’re feeling. 

If we have put our faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, then we can have absolute confidence that our Heavenly Father sees us in our trials and has promised us His protection. In times of distress, we can place our trust in the Lord. He wants us to call on Him so that He can encourage us with His presence and give us His peace. As you rest in the Lord and rely on Him today, you will be able to say with the psalmist, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” “

These are indeed strange times, but God is with us in these and will dispel our fears as we turn in faith to Him at the beginning of each day. 




Points to ponder:

What false places of safety do you run to when you feel afraid or stressed?

How can you leave these places behind and place yourself in the secure hands of Jesus?



Jesus, forgive me for running to anything but You in search of life and happiness. I turn away from those things now, and turn my life over to You. 


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