What Can Man Do To Me?

Fear can be crippling. Some things are simply scary! Like snakes! Those squiggly, slithery, squirmy reptiles of danger freak me out at the very sight. Some things drive fear into our hearts, torment us, bother us, frighten us long-term and even have emotional, physical and psychological effects on us

No one is immune to real fear. One of the most intimidating figures in all of U.S. history was General George Patton. Even Gen. Patton had fears! During World War II, a military governor met with General Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, “Sir, I am not a brave man. . . The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.” No one is immune to real fear.

The world has some interesting counsel to dealing with fears. Here is a list of list of five principles for dealing with fear from a study from the University of Florida Counseling Center.[1]

  1. Define your fears specifically.
  2. Convince yourself you are not afraid of __________.
  3. Exaggerate the bad things that could happen to you. Perhaps you will just laugh those fears away.
  4. Visualize yourself meeting your fears and becoming victorious.
  5. Face it head on.

The only thing major thing from this list is the obvious for the Christian: the word of God. Fears are not to be addressed by temporary means; they should only met by something that lasts forever, is sufficient and gives us all we need for life and godliness. And the only thing that does that is the Word of God.

David wrote in Psalm 56:3-4, “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?”

David expresses a purposeful decision of confidence that is not emotionally based. He is resolved to trust in God in his deepest fears. How can anyone respond this way? Because He knows His Lord. Unregenerate fears drive people away from God; gracious fear drives people to Him.

Charles Spurgeon reminds us that

“It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust. Unregenerate fear drives from God, gracious fear drives to him. If I fear man I have only to trust but the name of faith, but to be reliant upon God when occasions for alarm are abundant and pressing, is the conquering faith of God’s elect. Though the verse is the form of a resolve, it became a fact in David’s life, let us make it so in ours.”[2]

As David’s fears are erased, they are replaced with a confidence in the Word of God. The Word was David’s source of trust. It was his prescription to deal with fear. David found protection in the person of God because of what the Word of God instructed him about God.

And this is why David asks the rhetorical question, “What can flesh do to me?” Now let’s be honest – from a human standpoint this question is not helpful, because man can do a lot of things to me.

  • Man can fire me.
  • Man can hit me with his car while I am innocently driving down the street.
  • Man can attack me from another country.
  • Man can make selfish, greedy unwise decisions in his company that cause my stock in his company to become worthless.

Man can do a lot to me. So what is David saying here?

The answer is simple: David is trying to put things into perspective. David realizes that when you put God’s glorious power into perspective, man is really not able to do much in comparison. Man can do nothing to David; he can kill him in this life but not the next. Only God is able to do that, which is exactly what Christ taught as well – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28).

If God is for us, who can really be against us? (Rom 8:31)



[2] The Treasury of David, pg. 465.


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