In God We Trust, Psalm 56

DSCN3686Ever wonder where the phrase engraved on American coins comes from? Contrary to the prevailing national culture, money made in the United States still says: In God We Trust.

Regardless of how many Americans actually put their trust in God, he cares for those who do. And despite the failure of many to acknowledge him, he remains sovereign over all people and all nations.

In Psalm 56, David confesses his unequivocal trust in God. A notation in the ESV tells readers that David wrote this psalm when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Bear in mind that the giant, Goliath, who died when David flung a stone that embedded in his brain, was from Gath. Imagine how Philistines from Gath felt about the man who killed their gigantic and previously unstoppable hero. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in David’s sandals.

And the Philistines weren’t David’s only enemies. He was constantly on the run from Saul, the king of Israel, whose place he was destined to take.

Feeling overwhelmed, David begs for God’s gracious mercy and confesses his trust in him(Psalm 56:1-4, ESV):

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
    for many attack me proudly.
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?

Despite David’s acknowledgement of trust (head), he continues to feel beleaguered. These enemies never let up (verses 5-7, ESV):

All day long they injure my cause;
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
    they watch my steps,
    as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
    In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

Rather than exercise personal vengeance, David asks God to act. Then he again professes his trust in God, couching that confession within the context of a beautiful image of God’s intimate care (verses 8-11, ESV):

You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
    in the day when I call.
    This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?

Each time I read this psalm, I’m floored by the picture of a personal God who tracks my night-time tossings and counts my heartfelt tears. Four years ago, I blogged about this image.  I’ve also written and spoken about it in other venues. Still, it never fails to smack between my blind eyes with renewed awareness of God’s deeply personal love.

David concludes this psalm with a vow to worship God and walk in his ways (verses 12-13, ESV):

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

DSCN3697Citizens of the eternal kingdom have been delivered from death for a purpose—to walk before God in the light of life.

May we each take the American national monetary motto to heart, showing by every action that we trust in God!


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