When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4, ESV
Children are easy to scare. It doesn’t take much. They’re afraid of the dark. They’re afraid of strangers. They’re even afraid of loud noises. Why? They are convinced that these things can harm them. As children grow in maturity, they are no longer afraid because they realize that these things pose no legitimate threat. As adults, we all realize that we have no reason to fear the silly things that frightened us as children.
David wrote this psalm when the Philistines seized him. In our text, he acknowledges that he is afraid and reminds himself of the divine antidote to fear: trusting in God. He then points to the word of God as an object of his praise. It is in God’s word that David is reminded that he has no need to fear. David recognizes the same words that brought the world into existence are reliable in times of distress. David meditated on the promises of God, instead of his circumstances.
David settles the matter in his heart with the rhetorical question: What can flesh do to me? Jesus answers by comparing what flesh can do to what God is able to do: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). David’s reliance on the Lord and his words leads him here. Suddenly, fear of man is laughable for those of us who are children of the king of the universe.
When we embrace the reality that there is only one who is able to kill both body and soul, only then can we face our fears on earth. Paul reminds us that for those who are in Christ Jesus, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but power. Jesus took the wrath of God for us. He was killed so that we wouldn’t have to be. We have no reason to fear trials, tribulations, and circumstances here on earth.
Our Father in heaven is not only able but also eager to protect and comfort us in times of distress. He has given us the Spirit who speaks to us through Scripture. It is critical that we run to Scripture when we are afraid. In scripture we find perspective for our problems.
It is essential we view ourselves in light of our standing with the God of this universe and ask ourselves: What can flesh do to me? What can my circumstances do to me? Jesus answers the question in the Gospel when he communicates a sort of
James Brown M.C. Hammer theology proclaiming to all the earth, “Can’t touch this.”