Weds 5 January - Psalm 4
1 Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
3 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the Lord.
6 Many, Lord, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’
Let the light of your face shine on us.
7 Fill my heart with joy
when their grain and new wine abound.
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
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Meditation on Psalm 4
As we come to the beginning of a New Year, we begin another cycle through the Psalms by focusing on Psalm 4.
A number of commentaries link this Psalm with Psalm 3 which is linked to the story of Absalom’s rebellion against David – 2 Samuel 15:1-18:18.
- DAVID SPEAKS TO GOD Verse 1
He is direct in his approach. This is not over-confidence or arrogance but he knows from experience that he can come to God at any time of day or night.
Throughout the Psalms we read of David and the other psalmists calling on God in a whole range of experiences.
Psalm 17:6 ‘I call on you, my God, for you will answer me’
Psalm 118:5 ‘When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; He brought me into a spacious place.’ In Psalm 4 we read of David’s heart-cry, ‘Give me relief from my distress’ that literally means, ‘Bring me into a spacious place.’ Perhaps today we might say, ‘cut me / give me some slack’.
Psalm 120:1 ‘I call on the LORD in my distress and He answers me.’
Psalm 138:3 ‘When I called, you answered me, you greatly emboldened me.’
And then we read two verses in Isaiah and Jeremiah that give us God’s promises as we call out to Him.
Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
Jeremiah 33:22 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
And a final example is Jonah when he is the belly of the fish and from there he prays - “In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me.”
How up-to-date and relevant today. We can call on God in our distress. He is, as David calls Him, “my righteous God.”
We are not righteous in and of ourselves but through the work of Christ in our lives we are clothed in His righteousness which gives us this free and any time access to God.
How many people over this Christmas and New Year period have cried out in distress?
- Two teenagers knifed to death by teenagers.
- A mum who suffered from epilepsy takes her baby daughter to her mother’s home on Christmas day and then goes home on her own and takes her own life.
- The thousands of families bereaved by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The list could go on … but the cry is the same – ‘Give me relief from my distress’.
We can come to a God who is righteous, who longs to show mercy and who hears our prayer
- DAVID SPEAKS TO HIS ENEMIES Verses 2-3
We need to look back to Psalm 3 to see the link in ‘my glory’. In Psalm 3:3 David points to the Lord as being ‘my glory’ – i.e. David recognises that the LORD has given him a place of honour and is the One who has ‘lifted my head high.’
He is king by divine right but his enemies, as supporters of Absalom, want to bring him down from that place of honour.
David challenges them to stop their delusions and their seeking after false gods.
In confidence he can remind his enemies that
- it is the LORD who has set him apart.
- it is the LORD who hears him
- his enemies will not win
- DAVID SPEAKS TO HIMSELF Verses 4-7
As David warns his enemies, so he warns himself against falling into the same trap as them.
He faces the challenges of
Notice that at each possible twist and turn David reminds himself, and us, that there is one who is trustworthy and longing to give His people peace, light, joy and abundance.
David reminds us of the Aaronic blessing – Numbers 6:24-26 – ‘the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.’
- DAVID CAN BE AT PEACE Verse 8
Again, we look back to Psalm 3:5. As David trusts the LORD, he knows that peace, which, as Paul describes it in Philippians 4:7 is ‘the peace of God which transcends all understanding…’
Michael Wilcock comments: ‘The psalmist might have said of his friends, as Job said of his, ‘Miserable comforters are you all!’ But it was only after ‘Job prayed for his friends’ that things started to go right for him again.’
God might not take away our causes of distress but He will give us inner peace and safety.
Happy New Year to all.
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