When You’re Afraid to Trust God

educational encouragement

Today we’re going to visit Psalm 34, specifically Psalm 34:18. While this entire chapter holds so many amazing truths, verse 18 is absolutely amazing; brimming with comfort, encouragement, and promises from God to those who are hurting. 

It is no secret that we were not made for this sin-filled world, nor all the wounds our souls are forced to endure as we make our way through this life. It wasn’t God’s plan for us, but it is where we find ourselves. 

Being a child of God does not mean we are promised an easy, pain-free life but it does mean we are promised that we will never walk through anything without the miraculous, magnificent, upholding power of our God. That is the beauty that separates us from the world and that, when depended upon, can literally transform any circumstance we encounter. While it does not erase the pain we’re facing, it does invite us to look upon the face of God and allow His perfect lovingkindness to change us, restore us, anchor us, and transform us. 

As we dive in, you must first know this: your broken heart absolutely matters to God. In fact, you’ll discover that He has made a special provision for the exact kind of pain we experience (the kind that can’t even be described in words) and He has a beautiful rescue plan for you!

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at chapter 34 as a whole. 

This Psalm was written by David and it will likely come as no surprise to you that David wrote this while he was in trouble! For a much more detailed chain of events, you can visit 1 Samuel 21, but the beginning of Psalm 34 alludes to a very odd situation that David found himself in where he escapes the Philistine king, (Abimelech: the king's title, not his name) by pretending to be insane. I just love any story with David, don’t you?! He was certainly no stranger to drama.

Psalm 34 can be divided into 4 sections that are actually instructions to the reader from David. He tells us to:

  1. Bless the Lord vs. 1-3
  2. Seek the Lord vs. 4-8
  3. Fear the Lord vs. 9-16
  4. Trust the Lord vs. 17-22

Bless the Lord

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
Exalt the LORD with me,
And let’s exalt His name together.  
Psalm 34:1-3

David opens the chapter with his own personal vow to the Lord, sharing his love for God, and revealing his own intimate, personal worship of Him. In these 3 short verses, David tells us that he will:

  • Bless the Lord at all times
  • Praise the Lord continually
  • Boast in the Lord
  • Magnify the Lord
  • Exalt the name of the Lord

Seek the Lord

I sought the LORD and He answered me,
And rescued me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This wretched man cried out, and the LORD heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!  
Psalm 34:4-8

In this section of the passage, David now appeals to us, the readers, to trust in the Lord like he does. He does this by telling us all that God has done for him, and therefore, will also do for anyone who seeks God too. David tells us that when we seek the Lord, He will:

  • Answer us
  • Deliver us from all fears
  • Hear us
  • Save us out of all trouble
  • Encamp around us
  • Rescue us

Fear the Lord

Fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no lack of anything.
The young lions do without and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD will not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Who is the person who desires life
And loves length of days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous,
And His ears are toward their cry for help.
The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To eliminate the memory of them from the earth.  
Psalm 34:9-16

First, David gives us some instructions that are connected with promises. We are told that:

  • If we taste (or perceive) God, then we will see that He is good
  • If we take refuge in God, then we will be blessed
  • If we fear God, then we will be provided for
  • If we seek God, then we will never lack good things

Second, David tells us to listen to him, to let him teach us how to fear the Lord. How to pursue godliness and goodness, rather than sin. He goes on to give us some dos and don’ts on what fearing the Lord looks like, a list of insights, wisdom, and profitable directives from a man after God’s own heart. David instructs us to:

  • Keep our tongues from evil
  • Keep our lips from deceit
  • Depart from evil
  • Do good
  • Seek and pursue peace

Trust the Lord

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears
And rescues them from all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The afflictions of the righteous are many,
But the LORD rescues him from them all.
He protects all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil will bring death to the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will suffer for their guilt.
The LORD redeems the souls of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will suffer for their guilt.  
Psalm 34:17-22

The rest of this chapter deals with trusting God. But David is in no way asking us to trust the Lord blindly. In fact, it’s the specific words he uses in verse 18 that give us every reason to be able to place our hope securely in God alone. It’s these words that David chose that beautifully explain why God is indeed worthy of our trust. David wants every reader to be crystal clear on the fact that God is aware of the struggles of His people and in these closing verses David acknowledges both the reality of suffering and the ultimate rescue provided by God. 

Verse 18 says:

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

This verse, just as it is, is breathtaking and so full of comfort, but just wait until you see what some of these words mean in the original Hebrew. So, we’ll first define some of these words for better understanding, then we’ll piece everything together.

1. Near 

Near is the Hebrew word qarob (Strong’s H7138), and it means: draws near or kinsmen. It comes from qarab (Strong’s H7126), which means: to approach, to offer, bring you near, comes near.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the Lord draws near to you, He brings you near to Him. It tells us that the effort is His, not yours. He is your Kinsman-Redeemer, offering Himself to you, coming near to you.

2. Brokenhearted

Brokenhearted is the Hebrew word shabar (Strong’s H7665), and it means: breaks in pieces, demolished, shattered, destroyed.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the Lord more than understands what you feel when you face the excruciating pain that comes with being in this world. It means He knew that the sin of this world could shatter and destroy your soul. Have you ever had a heart that felt like that? God does not make light of your pain. He understands and foreknew the depth of the anguish you would face and He comes near to you when you feel this way. He is not far off when you are hurting and calling out to Him. He is not waiting for you to do “enough” so you can finally experience the refuge He promises to be to you, the definition of what it means to be “near” proves this.

3. Saves

Saves is the Hebrew word yasha (Strong’s H3467), and it means: to avenge, deliver, gain victory, help, preserve.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that while you take refuge in Him, He is going to save you! He will avenge you. He will deliver. He will gain victory for you. He will help you. He will preserve you. 

4. Crushed

Crushed is the Hebrew word dakka (Strong’s H1793), and it means: contrite. It comes from another Hebrew word daka (Strong’s H1792), which translates: crushed, destruction, or literally powder.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that the Lord knows that it's possible for this to happen to us, that He knows we can be hurt this badly, that our souls can be crushed to literal powder. 

With all these definitions in mind, I pray you will see that your broken heart matters to God. And with all these definitions in mind, I pray you will also see that God made a beautiful rescue plan for you.

When your heart has been shattered and demolished, the Lord will bring you close to Him. He will preserve you and gain victory for you when the things of this world have crushed your spirit into powder.

Hold on to Him. He is worthy of your trust no matter what you are facing today.

Related resources

Free resources:

Blog post - A Beautiful Plan

Podcast episode 97 - Part 12 Walking Through the Bible: 1 Samuel 

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