I had my wife take some pics of me this past weekend to reflect the changes in my appearance as of late. My beard is starting to get fuller and actually show up in pictures (the blight of being fair-haired I guess). During the shoot, I was goofing around a bit and she captured this one. As I was sorting through them, I decided to keep it and the words of Psalm 56:3 came to me.
The Hebrew sentence consists of only three words, but they say a lot.
What time I am afraid I will trust in thee, O LORD.
"What time" in Hebrew refers to any set period of time. It can be a day, a year, 40 years (as in the day of provocation in the wilderness, when Israel tempted [rebelled against] God), a lifetime, or thousands of years, as long as the period of time has a beginning and and end.
"afraid" comes from a Hebrew root meaning to tremble. Sometimes it's from excitement, as two newlyweds going on their honeymoon, ecstatic to begin a new life together and embark upon the journey of two becoming one. However in this case, the trembling is from being terrified of something. The context of the Psalm puts David fearing for his life at the hand of his enemies.
The last part of the verse seems odd in the English translation. When I read it, I think of something along these lines:
Although I am utterly terrified, I will trust you. I can see my enemies, and I'm terrified, but I'm reminding myself that I trust you. They're coming closer and I'm more terrified, but I think of you and I'm okay (for the moment). Now their getting really close and I'm shaking like a leaf...maybe I'll run to a safer place and think about trusting you some more..."trust" is from the Hebrew root batach, which means:
to confide in anyone, to set one's hope or confidence upon anyone, to throw yourself and all your cares on someone, to be secure,to fear nothing for yourself (used in a good sense, of the security of the righteous.)
In other words, although David may have been surrounded by people wanting his blood, he was able to be confident in God because that's where his mind was dwelling. He realized that no matter how bad his situation became, God remained unchanged. If he made it through to see the other side, it was because God held him in His hands and walked through it right beside him. If his enemies were successful in taking his life, God would draw him to His chest and hold him there for all eternity.
When your circumstances have you shaken, put your confidence in the Rock.