Why take the time to walk through multiple Bible verses about trusting God? Isn’t it enough just to, well, you know, trust God? At first glance, trusting God would seem to be a fairly intuitive thing you can do without needing to study what the Bible says on the topic.
And yet, as I’ve looked into what the Bible teaches on trusting God, I’ve found that trust according to the Bible isn’t as intuitive as I thought it might be.
To get some context, let’s start with a watered-down version of trust. The German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) is known as the “father of liberal theology.” In his Enlightenment context, he was trying to figure out a version of Christianity which could exist independent of its historic, miraculous beliefs. The result was a version of Christianity which, at core, was a feeling of absolute dependence on God. A person could experience a feeling of absolute dependence on God without believing in, for example, the resurrection of Jesus, or even believing in Christianity itself.
So, if I experience a feeling of absolute dependence on God, does that count as what the Bible calls “trust in God”?
“If I experience a feeling of absolute dependence on God, does that count as what the Bible calls ‘trust in God’?”
Actually, as I looked into this, I discovered that the New Testament word for “to trust” is really just the verb form of its word for “faith” (Gk. pistis). So, if we want to know how to really trust God, we need to explore what the Bible means by faith. And, no offense to Schleiermacher, biblical faith goes way beyond just a feeling of absolute dependence on God. For more on biblical faith, you might check out a helpful article by Mark Moore called “What Is Faith in the Bible?” As Moore describes, faith is far more than just a feeling—just as it goes far beyond just a series of intellectual beliefs. Faith is more than just something we do in our minds or feel in our hearts. Faith, according to the Bible, isn’t true faith unless it’s embodied in action.
It’s not all that hard to feel dependent on God from time to time, especially in tough times. But do I really trust in God—as Scripture describes it?
To figure out if we really do trust God as the Bible describes, we need to look into what the Bible teaches about it. To that end, let’s look at 12 Bible verses about trusting in God.
#1 – Trusting God means not leaning on my own understanding.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Pr. 3:5-6, NIV)
I can smirk at Disney’s “follow your heart” narrative—all the while trusting my own gut when it comes to navigating life. Yet, trusting God means not leaning on my own understanding. This doesn’t mean seeing myself as an idiot (I’m made in God’s image, after all). It does mean seeing God as infinitely smarter than I. And it means I’m acting intelligently when I’m following his lead. The truth is, my gut leads me in multiple contradictory directions at once, so much unlike the “straight paths” that come from submitting to God’s ways.
#2 – Trusting God means calling out for his help.
“Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.” (Ps. 86:2-3, NIV)
Trusting in God means both that I stop leaning on my own intelligence and that I lean wholly on him. It’s when the struggling swimmer lifts his hand above the surface of the water in order to flag help. 1 Chronicles 5:20 narrates, “They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him” (NIV, emphasis added). Psalm 62:8 encourages us, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (NIV).
Bible Verses about Trusting God: “Save your servant who trusts in you” (Ps. 86:2).
#3 – Trusting God means following even when it feels crazy.
“There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” (Deut. 1:31b-36, NIV)
As this paragraph of Scripture describes, after the Exodus, God brought the Israelites to the land he promised them. Yet the task of taking the land felt too impossible, the inhabitants too fortified. Only two of the leaders, Caleb and Joshua, trusted that God could give them the land. The rest felt it was suicidal to try. The majority got their way and ended up wandering the desert until the next generation was ready to trust God. Trusting God means following him even when other people think you’re crazy. They’re going to waste their God-given opportunities; by trusting God, you can live up to what he’s called you to.
#4 – Trusting God means publicly acknowledging him.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps. 91:2, NIV)
Part of trusting God is telling others. It’s being public (but not obnoxious) about it. Here are some more excerpts from the Psalms in which the psalmist makes it clear to the people around him that he’s put in all his chips on God. Psalm 25:1-2 says, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me” (NIV). Psalm 31:14-15 says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me” (NIV). In Psalm 40:3, the psalmist declares, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (NIV).
Bible Verses about Trusting God: “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Ps. 91:2).
#5 – Trusting God means entering into relationship with him.
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Is. 12:2, NIV)
It’s possible to believe that there’s a God without having much of anything to do with him. But when you trust God, you’re entering into a relationship with him. As this verse says, he becomes your salvation, your strength, your defense.
#6 – Trusting God means rejecting other gods.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” (Ps. 40:4, NIV)
There’s a type of scholarship in religious studies which concerns itself with trying to minimize differences between the religions and to harmonize them together. As I’ve read such scholarship (primarily in Buddhist-Christian studies because of the subject of my doctoral research), I’ve noticed a trend toward seeing exclusivity as an ugly thing. The idea is that good religious activity means making room in your mind and heart for other religious paths. Evangelism is out. Syncretism is in.
And yet, trusting in God, from a Scriptural perspective, means turning away from other gods and other religious paths. Isaiah 42:17 says, “But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame” (NIV). What Psalm 20:7 says about chariots applies to other gods too: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (NIV). Trusting God means seeing God as our true hope and rejecting other gods.
Bible Verses about Trusting God: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Ps. 40:4).
#7 – Trusting God means flourishing.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13, NIV)
As we trust in God, we find ourselves filling up with joy, peace, and hope. This is the “renewing their strength” and “soaring like eagles” that comes when we hope in and wait on the Lord (Is. 40:31, NIV). As Psalm 52:8 puts it, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (NIV). We trust in him, and he fills us with what we need to face the day.
#8 – Trusting God means obeying his ways.
“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:8, NIV)
Trusting in God means following what he says. If we think we trust him—but then don’t trust him enough to obey him—then we don’t really trust him, do we? As the old hymn puts it, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Psalm 55:23 contrasts those who trust in God with those who follow their own evil impulses: “But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you” (NIV).
Bible Verses about Trusting God: “Those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (Titus 3:8).
#9 – Trusting God means saying no to fear.
“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Ps. 56:4, NIV)
Part of the flourishing that happens when we trust God is that we’re able to say no to our fears. We’ll still feel afraid from time to time, but we know where to take our fears. Our biggest fears in life, whether loneliness or poverty or death, are put in their place when we remind ourselves that God is our Father and that he promises to watch over us in life and death. Psalm 56:11 continues the theme from verse 4: “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” (NIV).
#10 – Trusting God means remembering him.
“Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Ps. 78:7, NIV)
Part of trusting God is simply remembering him. It’s frustratingly easy to forget God when our minds get soaked by waves of worries and anger and jealousy. It’s important that we trust God by reminding ourselves that he is there and that he is good.
#11 – Trusting God means vindication.
In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” (Is. 25:9, NIV)
My skeptical friends won’t buy most of what I’m trying to say in this article, but especially this one. I really do believe that, in the end, those who trusted in God will find themselves vindicated. I think God has given us enough reason to trust in him, but not so much that it’s impossible not to. There will come a day, I believe, when those of us who trusted in God will be so glad we did, and any inconvenience or hostility we faced along the way because we held fast to God will seem completely trivial by comparison.
Here are a couple more Scriptures, both from the book of Daniel, which picture the vindication that comes from following God even when it’s hard:
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Dan. 3:28, NIV)
“The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Dan. 6:23, NIV)
Bible Verses about Trusting God: “We trusted in him, and he saved us” (Is. 25:9).
#12 – Trusting God means salvation.
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. (Rom. 4:5, NIV)
Most importantly, trusting God is our salvation. Salvation is by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9). Trusting in God, according to the Bible, isn’t a vague experience of dependence but a concrete commitment of faith and allegiance: We place our faith in Jesus by believing what he says, trusting in him to save us, and placing our allegiance in him as king.