Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Preventing Anxiety Attacks

Psalm 56:1-13

To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.

In I Samuel 21, after being betrayed to Saul, and convinced he would eventually kill him, David went to the Philistines in Gath for safety.  He was recognized and taken to the king.  Fearing he would be killed, he pretended to be insane.  He was released and fled back to Israel.  According to tradition, this psalm was a poem written about that called The Dove of Silence.  As with many other of the Psalms, the reason for the traditional name is not immediately clear. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.  Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.” (Psalm 56:1-2)

After months and years of fleeing from Saul, while fighting Israel’s enemies, David had begun to feel depressed.   His life was at risk every day, and it began to wear him down.  Even people he helped betrayed him to Saul.  His only hope was that God would intercede on his behalf

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

Every time he felt that sense of panic, David made up his mind to turn to God and depend on him.   He would thank God for the things he had done for him and the promises he had made to him and not allow his fear to distract or control him, realizing that his enemies’ power was limited to temporary physical things.  They could never destroy what he was.  The worst thing they could do, killing him would only free him to be with the Lord. 

“Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.  They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.  Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.” (Psalm 56:5-7)

In their effort to curry favor with Saul, men like betrayed David to Saul, accusing him of criminal activity and  trying to stir up insurrection and conflict.  Others spied on him, reporting his movements to Saul and trying to ambush him.  David asks if they are to profit from their wrong doing.  He expects God to punish them for what they have done.   

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?  When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9)

God knows exactly what David has gone through .  He has kept a record of the sufferings he had been through  and how he responded.   David is confident of his relationship with God, and that his enemies will be forced to flee when they come face to face with God. 

“In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word.  In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:10-11)

Human instinct would be to live in fear of what might happen, but by the power of God’s spirit, David would praise God’s word and his promises.  He had placed his trust in God and he knew He was able to protect him from anything people could do to him. 

“Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalm 56:12-13)

He believed God’s promises were true and was Going to thank him for them as well as for the many other times God had acted on his behalf to save his life.  He asks that God prevent his being so discouraged that he would turn his back on God so that he could walk in God’s love and power. 

It is human nature to fear things when we feel we have not control of the outcome, and we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to trust God with the outcome of things we cannot control.   By focusing on his past actions and promises, we can prevent fear from taking control of our lives and producing an anxiety attack.  

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