"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)
"Trust and confidence in the Lord is the best antidote against fears" -- John Gill (1697-1771) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
Consider. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate yourself for trusting in God when you are afraid?
Biblical Background. David wrote Psalm 56 during one of the lowest points in his life. Saul, the king of Israel, was determined to kill David (1 Samuel 20:30-33). Even though Jonathan, Saul's son, and David were close friends, Jonathan advised David to flee from Saul (1 Samuel 20:41-42). David came to Nob to Ahimelech, the priest (1 Samuel 21:1). David lied to Ahimelech about the purpose of his visit (1 Samuel 21:2). David received from Ahimelech consecrated bread and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:6, 1 Samuel 21:9). David arose and "fled that day from Saul" to Achish king of Gath, a city in Philistine territory (1 Samuel 21:10, Ref. 3).
Gath was the home town of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4). David had killed Goliath in battle (1 Samuel 17:41-49). David now had the sword of Goliath with him. The servants of Achish knew of David's reputation. "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, 'Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands'?" (1 Samuel 21:11). The scripture says "David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath" (1 Samuel 21:12). David then "disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely" (1 Samuel 21:13).
When I Am Afraid, I Will Put My Trust in You. Despite David's fear and troubled emotional state, David makes an astounding declaration about trusting in God when he was afraid. "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4). David repeats his declaration of trust in Psalm 56:11, "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid." Note the subtle change in tense from "I will put my trust" in verse 3 to "I have put my trust" in verse 11.
David openly admitted his human emotion of fear, of being afraid.
David, despite his imperfect life and his fear, provides us an example to follow when we are afraid. David states that when he is afraid (literally "in the day," or occasion, of his fear) that he will put his trust (confidence) in the Lord (Psalm 56:3, Ref. 4, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
David frequently wrote in the Psalms about trusting in God. I suggest you will find encouragement and strength when you read these verses. Refer to "Bible Verses About Trusting in God" (Ref. 7).
David recognized that the remedy, the antidote, for fear is to trust in God. Despite his imperfections, David put his confidence in God and in God's care. Will you do the same?
Apply. If you are afraid today, pray to God. Ask God to take away your fear. Ask God to strengthen you and to help you put your complete trust in him. Thank him for his work in you to deliver you from your fear and for taking care of your concerns. Keep on trusting in God.
Suggested Listening. Listen to Alan Jackson's Official Music Video, "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (Live)."
For More Reading on This Topic. For more scriptures that help to counter fear and anxiety, check these resources:
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
This lesson explains God's promise to be the refuge, strength, and help of his people (Psalm 46:1).
Consider. Do you need God's help and strength for what you are facing today? How can you better experience God's protection as your refuge?
God is Our Refuge. The Bible tells us that God is our place of safety and protection from danger and distress. A refuge is a place where we go, and while we are inside, we are protected because our refuge surrounds us as our defense. David writes, "For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy" (Psalm 61:3). Solomon writes, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). David tells us from his own experience, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them" (Psalm 34:7, italics added).
The Bible provides several clear images for God as our refuge - a tower that we run into (Psalm 61:3, Proverbs 18:10), our shelter from the storm (Isaiah 25:4), our rock and fortress (Psalm 18:2), our shield (Psalm 28:7), and our hiding place (Psalm 32:7).
God is Our Strength. Note that Psalm 46:1 does not just say "God is strong" (which he is). This scripture verse says that God is our strength. We who are God's people can receive, experience, and apply God's strength to face our enemies such as worry, fear, discouragement, and opposition. God gives us the strength to accomplish the work he gives us to do in the face of these enemies.
The Apostle Paul knew that God was his strength. Paul wrote during his imprisonment, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). God provides strength to the believer to accomplish what God gives the believer faith to do (1 John 5:4). As believers, we need God's strength when we encounter resistance and trials. God provides us that strength.
Hymn composer Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) writes, "Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without him I would fall" (Ref. 1). David writes, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him" (Psalm 28:7).
God is a Very Present (Proven) Help in Trouble. The word for help means aid, assistance (Ref. 2, Ref. 3). The word translated as present means proven to be (Ref. 4), that is, God is proven to be our help in trouble. The word very means exceedingly, emphasizing that this statement is true (Ref. 5, Ref. 6). Because God is proven to be our help in trouble, we have nothing to fear (Psalm 46:2).
David writes, "For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy" (Psalm 63:7). The writer of Hebrews states, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).
Summary. Let's review the main principles in this lesson.
1. God is our "go to" place for refuge, safety, and protection from danger. God surrounds us as our defense.
2. God is our source of strength to face our enemies and to do the work he gives us to do.
3. God is proven to be our help in trouble, and we have nothing to fear, repeat, we have nothing to fear.
Apply. Take time now to pray. Thank God for being your refuge - your protection, your place of safety. Ask God to give you strength and faith to face your enemies and to do the work that God has given you to do. Thank God that because of him you have nothing to fear.
Listen to/Watch Video. "A Mighty Fortress" sung by HeartSong - Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio, USA.
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's." (2 Chronicles 20:15)
This article presents five steps to deal with our personal crises - steps that are scriptural, methodical, and effective. All of us at times either have faced or will face personal crises. Circumstances like this strike at the core of our being – physical, spiritual, and emotional. The Bible is a great comfort to us any time, but especially during difficult times - such as the times we are going through now.
Step 1: Recall God's Promises
The first place to turn to is to the Bible. Get your attention off of your problem and on to God. Read and meditate upon God’s promises. This step has a vastly therapeutic effect.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (Psalm 46:1-3)
For your encouragement, I have included links to 26 additional "promises passages" from God's word. You may see all of these verses written out in just one click here (Ref. 1 - "Bible Verses for Times of Crisis").
Additional promises: Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 16:8; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 34:4; Psalm 34:7; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 56:3-4; Psalm 68:19-20; Psalm 91:1-6; Psalm 103:1-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 26:3-4; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 11:28; John 14:27; Romans 8:28; Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 6:19; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Revelation 21:4.
Read your Bible regularly, not just when you have a crisis. Memorize scripture verses. That way, when a crisis arises, you can immediately draw upon familiar, comforting words of scripture, and you will be well-equipped to deal with difficult situations when they occur (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Step 2: Put Your Trust in God through Prayer
Prayer is an open conversation with God. Even a short prayer, "Help me," is long enough. Talk with God and ask him to take care of your problem. Trust God to act (Proverbs 3:5-6). Ask God to take care of your problem according to God's will, not your own (1 John 5:14-15). Trust that God is in control of the situation.
Step 3: Solicit Prayer Support from other Christians
Other Christians can bring you much encouragement by praying with you or for you. Share your need or concern with Christian friends, and ask for their prayers. When you are "down," others can pray from strength and lift you up. "Plug in" with one or more small groups of Christians, for example, a Bible study or prayer group, or a fellowship group. Small groups can provide you tremendous personal support (Matthew 18:19-20; Galatians 6:2; James 5:16).
Step 4: Believe that God Will Act
Keep the faith. Remember that you have prayed. Keep on praying. Don’t give up. Feed your faith, not your doubts. Whichever one you feed will grow (Luke 18:1-8; Mark 9:21-24; Psalm 37:5; Hebrews 11:1). God will do what he promises.
Step 5: Testify Publicly to the Results that God Provides
Tell others how God answered your prayers. By this, you will encourage other people. Jesus expects you to “go public” with your testimony about his work in your life – that God may be glorified (Matthew 10:32; Mark 5:18-20; Psalm 66:16, 1 Peter 3:15).
Praise God that God's word never passes away (Matthew 24:35)! We can always count on God to help us through difficult times. God's promises are true and everlasting.
"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'" (Luke 2:10-11)
This article is the third in a series on the "'Fear Nots' of the Bible" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). This article presents the "Fear not" angelic encounters with Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds in Luke chapters 1 and 2.
Consider. Do you regard the announcement of the birth of Jesus as good news? If so, are you telling others? Are you rejoicing because you know Jesus as your Savior?
Introduction. Angels are active in both the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. Angels bring announcements and special messages of encouragement from God to specific people.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for angel is aggelos. Aggelos means a messenger or delegate, someone sent by God to proclaim His message (Ref. 3). Matthew chapter 1 describes the first appearance of an angel in the New Testament. An angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20).
Supernatural angelic appearances to humans in the scriptures often, but not always, begin with "Fear not," also translated as "Do not fear" or "Do not be afraid" (Ref. 1, Ref. 2).
The Angel Gabriel Appears to Zacharias. Luke 1:5-25 tells us about the angel Gabriel's appearance to the priest Zacharias and the angel's message foretelling the birth of John the Baptist.
When Gabriel appears to Zacharias in the temple, Zacharias is troubled and fearful (Luke 1:12). In Luke 1:13 NKJV, the angel's message to Zacharias has four main points: 1) "Do not be afraid" ("Fear not" in the KJV), 2) "Your prayer is heard," 3) "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son" and 4) "You shall call his name John." Gabriel tells Zacharias that John will be great in the sight of the Lord (Luke 1:15), will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15), will turn back many children of Israel to the Lord (Luke 1:16), and will go before the Lord (Luke 1:17).
The angel Gabriel tells Zacharias that this message is good news, also translated as glad tidings (Luke 1:19 NASB, Luke 1:19 NKJV). The Greek word for good news and glad tidings is euaggelizó (Ref. 4). We will see the same word again in Luke 2:10.
Scripture tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous and blameless in following the Lord's commandments (Luke 1:5-6). However, Zacharias does not believe (have faith in, trust in) the angel's "good news" message (Luke 1:20, Ref. 5). Disbelief in God's message has consequences. Zacharias is not able to speak until the prophecy is fulfilled when John is born (Luke 1:57, 63). When his mouth is opened, Zacharias speaks and praises God (Luke 1:64).
Gabriel greets Mary with the words, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28) The Greek word for favored is charitoó, which means highly-favored because receptive to God's grace (Ref. 7).
The Scripture says, "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be" (Luke 1:29). Unlike Zacharias (Luke 1:12), Mary was not terrified by the angel's appearance or presence. However, she was perplexed by what the angel meant by his greeting. The angel responds and tells her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast favour with God"(Luke 1:30 KJV).
Gabriel then states the substance of his message to Mary. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
Then Mary asks Gabriel a very interesting question - "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" (Luke 1:34) The Greek word for know in this verse is ginóskó, which means know through personal experience and in this context refers to sexual intimacy (Ref. 8). Mary did not doubt the angel's word. From her humility and modesty she wondered how her pregnancy could be effected in her virgin state (Ref. 9). The angel Gabriel replies and says, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Gabriel also says, "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37).
Mary then humbly speaks her assent and consent to the will of God. "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). The Greek word for Let it be is ginomai, which means come into being, happen, and become (Ref. 10).
The angel then departs, having accomplished what he came for (Luke 1:38).
The Angel Announces The Savior's Birth to the Shepherds. In Luke 2:8-14 the gospel writer describes the glorious announcement of the birth of the Savior. Previously, Luke had described the Angel Gabriel's message to Mary about the conception of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). In the verses immediately before the angel's announcement to the shepherds (Luke 2:1-7), the gospel account informs us that Joseph and Mary had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and that her Son now was born.
The Scripture tells us that an angel (name not identified) suddenly stands before shepherds who were outside Bethlehem at night (Luke 2:8-9). The scripture states "And the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Luke 2:9, italics added). The brilliant glory of the Lord around the shepherds during the angel's announcement is unique compared to the appearance of Gabriel to Zacharias in Luke 1:8-25 and to Mary in Luke 1:26-38. The Apostle Paul reports a similar encounter with bright light around himself and his traveling companions on the way to Damascus (Acts 26:13).
The shepherds "feared with a great fear" at the angel's sudden appearance (Luke 2:9 DRA). The King James Version famously says "they were sore afraid" (Luke 2:9 KJV).
The angel tells the shepherds, "Fear not" (Luke 2:10). Yes, the appearance of the angel was supernatural; however, the angel's message about the birth of Christ is good news, not bad news. "For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). The Greek verb for bring good news is euaggelizó which also is translated as bring good tidings (Ref. 4).
The Greek word for Savior in Luke 2:11 is sótér, which means savior, deliverer, preserver (Strong's Concordance, Ref. 11). Jesus Christ is our Savior because he "saves believers from their sins and delivers them into His safety" (HELPS Word-studies, Ref. 11, 1 John 4:14, 1 Timothy 1:15, Luke 19:10).
The shepherds considered the angel's message, and then they went with haste, without delay to see the Savior themselves (Luke 2:15-16). After they had seen Jesus, they told others the good news about Jesus (Luke 2:17). Then the shepherds returned, "glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen" (Luke 2:20).
Apply. Like the shepherds, have you accepted the good news of the Savior for yourself? If not, then believe that he is the Son of God as described in the scriptures, and ask him to forgive your sins. Then go on your way rejoicing and tell others the good news about Jesus.
"They all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, 'Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.'" (Mark 6:50)
This article is the second in a series on the "'Fear Nots' of the Bible." The first article presented the "'Fear Nots' of the Old Testament" (Ref. 1). In the Old Testament, God assured the Israelites, "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10). Moses encouraged the Israelites about the Lord's presence with them, "Do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This article presents statements of Jesus where he tells us to "Fear not" or "Do not be afraid." Jesus Christ, the Son of God, assures those who believe in him and follow him that we have no reason to fear.
Consider. In what areas of your life are you afraid? With what circumstances or trials would you like Jesus to give you courage and peace?
Definition. Unless indicated otherwise, the verses in this article use the Greek word phobeó for fear or afraid (Ref. 2). The New Testament uses phobeó to mean put to flight (withdraw from), terrify, frighten, dread, or reverence (Ref. 2).
Jesus Gives Us Courage in the Midst of Our Trials. Recall the event when Jesus walked on the water of Lake Galilee late at night to come to his disciples who were struggling with rowing against the wind (read here, Mark 6:45-52). In Mark 6:48 the Greek language uses a serious word to describe the disciple's situation. The New American Standard Bible says the disciples were straining at the oars for the wind was against them. The Greek word for straining is basanizó, which means a tormenting trial, to examine by using torture (Ref. 3). Wow.
Jesus took the initiative and came to his disciples during their tormenting trial at sea (Mark 6:48). The disciples saw Jesus approaching, but did not recognize him at first. They thought he was a ghost, and they were frightened (Mark 6:49-50). Jesus said to them, and he says to us in our trial, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid" (Mark 6:50).
The Greek word for courage is tharseó, which means emboldened from within (Ref. 4). For the believer, bold courage is infused by the Lord and means "living out the inner confidence (inner bolstering) that is Spirit-produced" (Ref. 4).
By faith, Jesus gives us courage (inner boldness and confidence) during our trials. His presence with us calms our storms (Mark 6:51, Mark 4:38-39).
Believing in Jesus is the Remedy for Our Fear. A synagogue official named Jairus came to Jesus and urgently asked Jesus, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live" (Mark 5:22-23). While on the way, bad news came from the house of the synagogue official. "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?" (Mark 5:35). Jesus disagreed with the advice of the bad news bearer to not trust further in Jesus. Jesus immediately said to Jairus, "Fear not, only believe" (Mark 5:36). In the face of bad news, believing in (trusting in, having faith in) Jesus is the only remedy for our grief and fear (Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Jesus knew that he "had things under control." Jairus only needed to believe. Jesus went on to raise Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:40-42).
God Knows Us, Values Us, and Cares for Us. Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31). English Theologian John Gill (1697 - 1771) wrote, "If God takes care of sparrows and is concerned for their lives, much more will he take care of his faithful ministers, and not suffer their lives to be taken away, till they have done the will and work of their Lord" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8).
Jesus Gives Us Peace that the World Cannot Give. On the evening before his death, Jesus said to his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27). Jesus gives his disciples peace. The peace that Jesus gives dispels our fear.
The Greek word for peace in John 14:27 is eiréné. Eiréné (peace) is God's gift of wholeness including peace of mind (Ref. 9). The invocation of peace (shalom in Hebrew) also was a common Jewish farewell, in the Hebraistic sense of the health (welfare), security, safety, and prosperity of an individual (Ref. 10, 1 Samuel 1:16-18, 1 Samuel 20:42).
The Greek word for fear in John 14:27 is deiliaó, which means to be cowardly (Ref. 11). Deiliaó is used only this one time in the New Testament.
Jesus' presence and his words bring comfort, courage, and peace to his disciples then and now.
Apply. If you do not yet know Jesus, put your faith and trust in him. Believing in Jesus is the only remedy for your fear. If you do know Jesus, and you are going through a difficult time, pray, and put your trust in Jesus. He will provide you the comfort, courage, and peace that you seek.
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
This article is the first in a series on the "'Fear Nots' of the Bible." This article presents God's divinely encouraging "Fear not" and "Do not be afraid" statements from the Old Testament.
Consider. In our troubles and challenges of life, God comes to us and says, "Fear not," and "Do not be afraid." In addition to telling us, "Do not be afraid," God encourages us because God is with us and blesses us in a variety of ways.
God is Our Shield. Genesis 15:1 - "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'" God is our protector and defense.
God Blesses His People. Genesis 26:24 - "And the Lord appeared to him* the same night and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.'"
* Isaac, Abraham's son
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines bless as invoke divine care, confer prosperity, protect, and endow with favor (Ref. 1).
God Saves His People. When the Egyptian army was about to overtake the Israelites, and immediately before God divided the sea, Moses said to the Israelites, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today..." (Exodus 14:13).
When the Moabites and Ammonites came to make war against Jehoshaphat, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel and he spoke to the Israelites (2 Chronicles 20:14). "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you" (2 Chronicles 20:17).
The Hebrew word for salvation in Exodus 14:13 and 2 Chronicles 20:17 is yeshuah, pronounced yesh-oo'-aw (Ref. 2). Yeshua also is the modern Hebrew name for Jesus of Nazareth (Ref. 3). In English, the name Yeshua is extensively used by followers of Messianic Judaism (Ref. 3).
God Goes with His Servants Into Battle. Deuteronomy 20:2-4 - "So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'"
God Never Fails or Forsakes His People. In Moses' last counsel to all the Israelite people, Moses said, "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:1, 6).
Moses then said to his successor, Joshua, "The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:8).
God Strengthens Us, Helps Us, and Supports Us. Isaiah 41:10 - "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
God is Our Companion in Trials. Isaiah 43:1-2 - "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you."
God indeed has redeemed his people. The Hebrew word for redeem is gaal, which means to act as a kinsman and to buy back a relative's property (Ref. 4).
God has already demonstrated that his promises in Isaiah 43:1-2 are true. God parted the sea for the Israelites to pass through on dry land (Exodus 14:15-16). God caused the Jordan River to rise up in a heap so it would not overflow the Israelites when they crossed on dry ground (Joshua 3:13-17). Recall that King Nebuchadnezzar had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego cast into the blazing furnace of fire because they would not serve Nebuchadnezzar's gods (Daniel 3:16-20). Scripture tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in the fire a divine companion that God provided to be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego during their trial. "'Look!' he answered, 'I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God'" (Daniel 3:25).
Apply. How do you need God's encouragement today to "Fear not" or "Do not be afraid"? Claim God's promises to be present with you, to bless you, to strengthen you, and to give you courage.
"And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' They became very much afraid and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?' " (Mark 4:37-41)
"When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me (stand by me);
When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me (stand by me);
When the world is tossing me Like a ship upon the sea
Thou who rulest wind and water, Stand by me (stand by me)."
-- Charles Albert Tindley, 1905
This article describes the background and scripture allusions for the gospel hymn, "Stand by Me," by Rev. Dr. Charles A. Tindley.
Consider. Are you going through a personal storm today? The same Jesus who rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still," can calm your personal storms.
Hymn Author and Composer. The Reverend Dr. Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) was an American Methodist minister and was one of the founding fathers of American gospel music (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). He was the son of a slave, and he taught himself to read and write. After the American Civil War he moved to Philadelphia as a young person where he found employment as a hod carrier (brick carrier) (Ref. 1). He and his wife Daisy attended the Bainbridge Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia where Charles became the sexton (janitor) (Ref. 1, Ref. 3).
Tindley was never able to go to school (Ref. 1). He was self-taught, never graduating from college or seminary, yet he acquired and read more than 8,000 books (Ref. 4). Tindley learned Hebrew through the help of a Philadelphia synagogue, and he learned Greek by taking a correspondence course through the Boston Theological School. Tindley qualified for ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church by examination (Ref. 1). After serving churches in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland, Tindley later became the pastor at the same church in Philadelphia where he had been a janitor (Ref. 1, Ref. 4). Under his leadership and powerful preaching, the multi-racial congregation grew from 130 members to more than 10,000 members (Ref. 1, Ref. 3). Tindley was awarded honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees by Bennett College (North Carolina) and Morgan College (Maryland) (Ref. 1).
Life was not easy for people in the northeastern United States at the turn of the 20th century. The area near Tindley's church was economically depressed, especially for African Americans during this time (Ref. 4). The hymn "Stand By Me" speaks to the difficulties that many of Tindley's parishioners faced (Ref. 4).
Charles A. Tindley composed and published over 40 gospel songs (Ref. 1, Ref. 2). His best-known gospel songs include "Stand by Me" (Ref. 5), "Leave it There" (Ref. 6), and "We'll Understand It Better By and By" (Ref. 7). His song, "I’ll Overcome Some Day" (Ref. 8) was the basis for the American civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," popularized in the 1960s (Ref. 2).
"Stand By Me" Scripture Allusions. Below I describe several phrases from the "Stand by Me" hymn text and their scripture allusions. To see the complete set of all five verses of the hymn text, please click either on the attached lyric sheet or hymn sheet.
Listen. The music for "Stand By Me" will encourage you. Watch one or both of the music videos below.
Apply. Thank Jesus for the times he has stood by you during the challenges you have faced in life. Ask Jesus to stand by you, to give you strength and courage, and to calm the storm you are going through today.
"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." (Psalm 27:11)
Today's lesson explores the Bible verses behind the excellent hymn, "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord."
Hymn Author and Composer
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey wrote the text for "Teach Me Thy Word, O Lord" based on Psalm 27:11 and several additional Scripture verses. Mr. Ramsey also composed the tune, "Camacha," which we use today when singing this hymn.
Benjamin Mansell Ramsey (1849 - 1923) was an English organist and amateur composer (Ref. 1). He also was a well-known music teacher near Bournemouth, England. Mr. Ramsey composed songs, piano pieces, and carols. He also wrote works on music theory (Ref. 2).
Wikipedia reports that Mr. Ramsey also conducted an amateur orchestra in the 1880s, and was involved in establishing the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra in 1893 (Ref. 1). He is best known for his hymn tune, "Camacha," and the text he wrote for "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 1919.
For those of you who are interested in geography, Bournemouth is located on the south coast of England (see map, Ref. 3).
I suggest that you refer to the attached hymn sheet music for the following discussion of the Scripture verses and the hymn text (Ref. 4).
"Teach me Thy way." Mr. Ramsey skillfully wrote this hymn around the Biblical phrase, "Teach me Thy way." He included the phrase, "Teach me Thy way," 13 times in verses one through four. In the Old Testament, the Way of the Lord referred to keeping God's commandments (Deuteronomy 5:33, Ref. 5). In Joseph Benson's Commentary, the phrase "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" means "What course I shall take to please thee, and to discharge my duty, and to save myself from ruin" (Ref. 6). David, the Psalmist, asked God to teach him God's way in Psalm 27:11 and Psalm 86:11. Psalm 25:4-5 is similar. David’s request to God, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord," is an excellent example for us to follow (Ref. 5).
"Thy guiding grace afford" (hymn, verse 1). These words call to my mind Jesus' promise in John 16:13, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." Jesus promised us as believers that the Holy Spirit will guide us. The Greek word for guide in John 16:13 is hodégeó, which literally means "to show the way" (Ref. 7, Ref. 8). Now we can see the close connection between the prayerful hymn words in verse 1, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord" and "Thy guiding grace afford." As believers in Christ, we need the Holy Spirit's guidance to teach us God's way and truth in each of our life's circumstances.
"Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight" (hymn, verse 1). This hymn phrase likely refers to Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
"Make Thou my pathway plain" (hymn, verse 3). Psalm 27:11 begins with the words, "Teach me thy way, O Lord" and ends with the words, "and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies" (KJV translation). The transliteration of the Hebrew word for plain is mishor (Ref. 9). In Psalm 27:11, mishor means literally a level place (free from obstacles) and figuratively, a place of safety, comfort, prosperity (Ref. 9). In the literal sense, a plain is a level area or plateau as compared to a mountainous area, for example, 1 Kings 20:22-25. In the figurative sense, David's prayer to make his pathway plain (Psalm 27:11) was to request that God would make his way safe (Ref. 10).
Mr. Ramsey wrote in verse 3 of the hymn, "Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil, and pain; Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!" With these words, we pray that God will make our way safe and that God will comfort us through these difficult times.
"Until the race is won" and "Until the crown is won" (hymn, verse 4). Mr. Ramsey likely drew inspiration from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 which alludes to both of these phrases. "Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away."
Let us resolve to run the race with endurance that God has given us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Listen. I suggest that you listen to one or both of the following Youtube videos to hear examples of how the hymn can be sung.
Traditional hymn in 3/4 time - The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London congregation singing "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" - Click here.
This contemporary, 4/4 time solo arrangement of "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" in 4/4 time will uplift you. Click here.
Apply. In what aspect of your life today do you need God to remove obstacles and to make your pathway plain or safe? Pray and ask God to teach you his way and to give you his guidance.
"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1)
Consider. On the evening before his death, Jesus spoke with his disciples. Jesus told his disciples that he was about to leave them (John 13:33). Naturally, their hearts filled with sorrow (John 16:5-6).
Jesus had already told his listeners who he is. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58, Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:14).
As the remedy for their troubled hearts, Jesus asked his disciples to believe in him. The Greek word for "believe" is pisteuó, which means have faith in, trust in (Ref. 1).
As the remedy for our troubled hearts, Jesus asks us to believe in him. Jesus asks us to trust him and to have faith in him.
The remedy for a troubled heart is to believe in Jesus.
To the father of the boy who was deaf, mute, and had seizures, Jesus said, "All things are possible for the one who believes and trusts [in Me]!" (verse 23 in Mark 9:14-29)
To the woman who touched Jesus' cloak and was healed, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in Me] has restored you to health; go in peace and be [permanently] healed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).
To his disciples, Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]" (John 14:27).
Listen. I encourage you to listen to Louis Armstrong's recording of the African-American spiritual song, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."
Apply. Is something troubling your heart today? Will you choose to believe in Jesus?
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