Hello! I hope you enjoyed our last study on the book of II Peter. Rather than beginning a new book, we are going to spend the last few weeks of summer by looking at some of the Psalms.
A study of the entire book would be quite an undertaking – at 150 chapters it would take years! Instead, we will spread them out over time, examining a few here and there.
Our look at the Psalms will be a bit different from our study of other biblical books. Since this is a book of poetry/songs, we are going to read and reflect on the main concepts, rather than intently studying every aspect of it. So let’s relax and meditate on our wonderful heavenly Father!
Psalms 4:1 – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
Psalms 3 and 4 were composed by King David. It appears as though they were written as a pair – the third Psalm being sung in morning worship, and the fourth Psalm sung as the evening worship of the same day.
The circumstances under which this song was written are not specifically revealed in the song itself, however, both Jewish interpreters and Christian expositors are in agreement that it was written during the rebellion of Absalom (see II Samuel 13-19 for the complete story).
Let’s consider that for a moment. We are well aware that David was not perfect. We also know that he had a lot of family problems, especially with his kids. Perhaps our first reflection is that following Jesus does not guarantee a trouble-free life!
How should we respond to the trouble that is sure to cross our path? David says “Answer me when I call, O God”. To call on God means to pray; to reach out to the one who holds our future in his hands. He formed us in our mother’s womb; he knows when we sit down, when we rise up, and every word we speak before it passes our lips. He knows the number of hairs on our head and he knows the plans he has for us. What a comfort to call upon God in prayer knowing that he is bigger than any problem we face. Hallelujah!
Here is one of the wonderful things about prayer: It is as individual as each one of us! No two people pray in the same manner. Some people are very formal when they pray, while others are more relaxed. Some people like to walk around while some kneel or sit. Some speak loudly, while others whisper. We can pray with our understanding and we can pray in the Spirit. Sometimes, when our grief or pain is extremely intense we only have to call out his name – Jesus – and he is there to comfort us, bringing peace and strength.
I really hope that you are not embarrassed or ashamed of the way you pray. I hope you don’t compare your prayers to the prayers of others. I hope you are not afraid to pray out loud in front of other people. Since your relationship with God is unique, it only makes sense that your prayer life will be also. Just relax and talk to your Father in whatever way seems natural to you.
Aren’t you glad that you have a relationship with God? Aren’t you glad that Jesus paid the price for your sin, so you can go boldly into the throne room of God and obtain help in the times of trouble?
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Why can David so confidently bring his petitions before the Lord? Because he knows from experience that “You have given me relief when I was in distress.” In other words, God not only hears our prayers, he answers them!
Take a few moments right now to reflect on that:
- What is the biggest prayer that God answered for you? Think back and remember the times when you thought there was no possible answer to your dilemma, but God stunned you by making a way.
- Now, consider the smallest, seemingly insignificant prayer that God answered for you. Isn’t it amazing that he cares about every aspect of your life? Isn’t it incredible that he wants to be involved in everything that concerns you, whether big or small? God is so good!
As you reflect on the answers to past prayers, let it fuel your faith for your current situation. God answered you in the past and he will do it again.
Psalms 4:2 –O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah.
Switching subjects, David now poetically addresses his adversaries – those engaged in persecuting him. In his case, that would be Absalom and his followers who had caused David to flee Jerusalem. They want to see David running for his life, reduced to poverty and shame, while they rise up to claim the authority and honor of his throne.
But these wicked men are making a big mistake. Their evil desires are vain and hopeless. Ultimately, they will be unsuccessful. Why is that?
It’s because they ignored the fact that David did not anoint himself as king – GOD did! The wicked plans of man cannot over rule the purposes of God. No matter how hard these men tried, they were not going to take the kingdom from David. Fighting against David was like fighting against God himself.
What a comforting thought! Even now there are evil forces at work in the world that want to steal the blessings God has set aside for you (and for America). They will try to discourage you, humiliate you and bring you to ruin. They will throw roadblocks along your path. They will even curse you, as Shimei did to David as he fled from Absalom (II Samuel 16:13).
But don’t listen to them! Your hope is in God. He will lead you, sustain you and empower you to fulfill the unique destiny he has prepared for you.
In the natural realm, Absalom represented a very real and grievous threat to David’s kingdom. But in the spiritual realm, the only thing that could have caused David to lose the kingdom was…. David himself. If he had given up hope or ceased to believe the promises of God, Absalom would indeed have usurped the throne. However, as David continued to trust in God, the plans of his adversaries were thwarted.
God is standing by to do the same for you. Seek him, place your faith in him, and obey what he commands you to do. Victory will be yours!
Psalms 4:3 – But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
Do you have some special possession that you cherish? Think about that item as you ask yourself these questions: What makes it special? Is it valuable? Is it one of a kind? Is it beautiful? Does it bring you joy? Does it remind you of someone you love?
David tells us that God considers YOU a precious treasure that he has set apart for himself! You are special to God. God considers you priceless. I know that because he spent the blood of his only Son just to buy you back from sin. You are one of a kind. God has made billions of people yet each one of us have different DNA and different fingerprints. You were not made on an assembly line, you were custom made by your Father. Are you beautiful? Of course you are! Don’t judge yourself by the shallow and ever-changing beauty standards of mankind. God loves beauty and everything he creates contains it. Do you bring joy to God? You sure do!
Isaiah 62:5 – … as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Know this: God has set YOU aside for himself. He has set his favor upon you. He has created you to be a living temple, full of his Spirit, reflecting his glory. He has chosen you to represent him in this generation, and to exercise His authority on earth. He has given you the keys to his kingdom and power over the enemy. Obviously, when you call out to him, he is going to hear you!
Psalms 4:4 – Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.
“Be angry” can also be translated “Stand in awe”. David is calling upon us to consider the awesome holiness, character and power of God. When we consider the character and nature of God, it should make us painfully aware of our own sin. It should inspire us to be more holy.
What facet of God’s character is most precious to you? Is it his righteousness? His mercy? His perfection? His love? His wisdom? It’s hard to choose just one, isn’t it? And just think – these are the parts of God that we know about. I have a feeling there is much more to be discovered!
David also encourages us to soberly examine our own hearts/lives. What have we said and done today? Were our actions, thoughts and words pleasing to the Lord? Did they encourage and edify others? Did they lead sinners to the light of Jesus Christ? If not, what changes can we make?
I have to add this final thought: Examining our own lives is essential, but doing so in bed may not be such a good idea. Personally, I would be asleep in three minutes!
Psalms 4:5 – Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
Let’s talk about sacrifice for a minute. To sacrifice means to give up something of importance or value for the sake of other considerations.
Obviously, this is a concept presented all throughout scripture, with Jesus as the ultimate example. God gave up something of importance or value to himself in order to redeem you and me.
Let’s consider the nature of sacrifices. In the New Testament, Jesus watched people putting money into the offering plate at the temple. He declared that a widow who gave a penny had sacrificed more than others who put in $100 (Mark 12:41-44).
According to Jesus, the value of the sacrifice was based on how much it cost the giver. In other words, the man who gave $100 wasn’t going to miss it much, so it wasn’t a costly sacrifice for him. Meanwhile, the widow literally had nothing so the penny she placed in the plate was all she had to sustain herself. For that reason, it was a very costly sacrifice indeed.
Here is another example. King David was in the midst of a huge crisis. An avenging angel was destroying the people of Israel. David knew that a proper sacrifice to the Lord could stop the judgment. At that point, one of his subjects offered him a tract of land and some excellent oxen for free; David could sacrifice them immediately. But David refused the offer:
II Samuel 24:24 – But the king [David] said to Araunah… “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
David understood the concept of a ‘right’ sacrifice. If there was no true cost to David then his sacrifice would have been just like the $100 given to the temple by the rich man. It would not have caused God to stop the avenging angel.
But David paused and purchased the land and oxen from Araunah at full price. As a result, the sacrifice was legitimate, and it was accepted by God.
What is the nature of your sacrifice to God? Are you giving him time, money or talents that you wouldn’t miss anyway, or does your sacrifice represent a true cost?
Psalms 4:6-7 – There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
How do sinners like Absalom define ‘good’? They look for the fleeting honors and pleasures of this life, such as food, drink, entertainment and economic stability. They look no further than the comforts of the flesh.
But true believers know that these things are of no value without a right relationship to God. What good is the security of this life, unless one has eternal security for their soul?
Matthew 16:26 – For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Would you give anything in exchange for your eternal soul? NO WAY! There may be times when you are tempted to envy the material possessions of others. But don’t take Satan’s bait!
As David indicates, true joy comes when God turns his face towards us and we have a relationship with him. For the Christian, nothing can compare to the richness and exhilaration of a life lived with Christ. This kind of life is not tied to how much money you make, where you live, or what you eat. It is for anyone and everyone!
Psalms 4:8 – In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
As Christians, we should be able to lay down at night and get some rest, free of worry about our enemies and their plans.
- We do this by releasing our fears and concerns to God through prayer and worship.
- We do this by using our shield of faith to repel the fiery darts of worry and anxiety that Satan tries to launch at us at 2 am!
- We do this by using the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) against the lies of the enemy.
God has given us the tools for a good night’s sleep – let’s use them!
But consider this as well: Sleep is also a euphemism for death. At some point, you and I will go to ‘sleep’ on earth and wake up in heaven. As believers, we are safe and secure in the knowledge that God has prepared a place for us in his eternal kingdom, where we will live in his presence forevermore!
Let me offer you some encouragement:
We all know there are struggles in this life. But let’s rise above that. Let’s be like David – let’s worship in the morning, preparing ourselves to serve Christ that day. And let’s worship him in the evening, knowing that we rest in the peace and safety of our Lord and Savior. Before you know it, God will be calling us home to heaven!
Let me offer you some relief:
I want to reiterate this once again: YOU are special to God! He values you no matter what (or how many) mistakes you made. He loves you so much, he sacrificed his only Son in order to win you back from the clutches of Satan! There is no sin he won’t forgive.
So don’t let anyone tell you that you have no value or that you are worthless; those are the lies of your enemy. Enter into the courts of the Lord and allow him to reveal to you just how much he cares!
Let me offer you some strength:
Absalom seemed to have everything the world offered. He was young, handsome, rich and well connected. He had the support of many people. And for a while, it looked like he had the upper hand. But he could not take the throne of his father, because God had reserved that just for David.
God also has blessings reserved for you. No one can take them from you, unless you give up and allow that to happen. So stand strong and claim the promises that God has placed within your heart!