Psalm 4 - An exposition

Absalom’s rebellion against his father could still be the background of this Psalm because the main theme of the psalm is inward peace. This could be a midnight prayer for any troubled soul who feels the temptation of bitterness and anger towards their enemies and instead of sleeping in rage, one could like David trust in the LORD to avenge their cause.

David makes it a habit of pleading to the LORD in his troubles, seeking relief and comfort from his creator. Late at night he bends his knees and like a dependant child he lifts his voice to his heavenly Father and eagerly begs of God vs. 1 answer me when I call to you. Here David pleads directly to God begging of him for an answer. One can imagine the longing of David’s heart waiting with tears for an answer from his God and will not relent until God grants him an answer. Oh how we should persevere in prayer and be bold to ask our heavenly father to answer us. Then David declares that God was altogether his for he says my righteous God. Everyone who knows God personally knows that God is righteous, he is an upholder of justice and he vindicates the oppressed.  David, understanding the righteousness of God brings forth his case to God and not man. His case could only be settled in the courts of heaven and where the judges of earth fail, God succeeds and triumph. Here is the triumphant of God in which David has experienced, you have given me relief when I was in distress. The word distress in Hebrew suggest of being in a tight corner, wherein all of your enemies gather against you and hard-pressed you felt. But God gave you relief amidst the conflict and grief and put you in a place of peace where you had no care for your troubles but a soothing melody he played to you.  David then request of God to be gracious to him and hear his prayer. David remembered the past mercies of God and ask of him now to be gracious to him in his present troubles and to please hear his prayer. David recognizes his need of divine grace and hence he lifts up his voice trusting in the righteousness of his God to deliver him. We should always pray to God to be gracious to us in every season for even the best of men need the grace of God.

In the second verse of the Psalm, David declares, ‘O men, how long shall my honour be turned into shame’? David’s conflict is with the sons of men and he ask them a question. His enemies have turned his honour, that is his right to be king of Israel into shame, for he is now running for his life and thus have shamed him. He ask of them how long will they continue in such wickedness, for such is their actions against him because they love vain words and seek after lies. Does this not remind you of the devil and his sons? How Satan is the father of all lies and master of flattery and his sons do the same. They are but fools and they will not relent in their ways, they yet show contempt for David’s authority and slander him in every single way. Our Lord Jesus, was he not also slandered, men did not recognize his authority and was he not shamed by the cross? But fools they were because there very actions was to their destruction. They were fools and will you remain a fool? Will you continue to flatter and speak lies about God by not believing in the One he has sent? Be wise and believe on the Lord Jesus. David then inserts a pause,  Selah. Will you also not pause a while and bring your sorrows to the court of heaven in which God may provide relief for you, or will you continue in the court of the devil and follow after evil? David in vs. 3 affirms the foolish men who has turned his honour into shame and spoken lies and vain words about him that they should know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself. Here we see that the wicked men, God has not set apart for himself but the godly. God has chosen the elect in Christ Jesus who are endowed with his righteousness and set them for himself. God’s elect, yea, his chosen ones will not be condemned but the wicked will have their portion in the lake of fire. And because his elect are set apart for Himself, the LORD hears when they call to him. If today you are found to be in the Lord Jesus, with full assurance your heart should rest that God hears you when you call to him. Let no more doubt arise in your mind but ease your pain in the comfort that your God hears you.

Vs. 4 Be angry and do not sin. Be angry could be translated ‘Tremble’, but Paul in Ephesians 4:26 rightly translate this for us, ‘in your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while your still angry’, because if you don’t you are giving the devil a foothold. Godly men may be angry about the wickedness of evil men and should take very wisely the words of David here not to sin. For God hates wickedness and the godly man too must stay away from sin although he is angry and vexed but must commit vengeance to God and God alone. But David here is not addressing godly men but his enemies, those sons of men who have profane his name and disregarded his honour. He upholds their anger and pleads with them not to sin and that they should ponder in their own hearts on their beds, and be silent. But we know that fools have no time to sit and ponder, they happily let the sun go down without dispatching of their anger and they wake with a more fervent hate than the night before. They submit their foothold to the devil and thus they sin and sin, adding fuel to the day of their destruction. But the godly will sit and ponder and will remain silent in their bed. They will turn to the LORD and like their Lord they will say ‘forgive them, for they no not what they do’, and happily they would lie down and sleep. The godly man ponders while the wicked man sleeps on his anger. Will you ponder on your anger or will you sleep on it? Selah.

Vs. 5. Here he makes a further plea to his enemies to offer right sacrifices and to put their trust in the LORD.  This is the natural reaction of the man who has put away his anger and now ask of the Lord what must I do before my sleeping and in my waking. It is to offer right sacrifices and to put their trust in the LORD. A fool, recognizing the folly of his sins would happily fly to Calvary and behold the lamb, the sacrifices which was slain for him and happily put his trust in the saviour but it is known of fools to continue in their folly. Will you continue in your sin or will you not kneel at the cross and accept that solemn sacrifice and trust in the redeemer. Oh that you may flee your ways and accept gladly the sacrifice of Jehovah.  David, now stops his plea to his enemies to turn to perhaps some in his camp who are weary of the difficulties and the never ending pursuit of their enemies and are saying, vs. 6 ‘who will show us some good’. Their hearts have grown weary and sweetness they see no more either in heaven or on earth. This may be true of believers who have gone far too long in darkness and their trust in the Lord begins to fade, but David is of a firmer character than those in his camp and with great excitements he remembers the goodness of his God and ask of Him to lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD. His camp may have forgotten about God but David does not and while his camp may seek goodness from men in which all their hopes fade, David seeks it from God and God never fails. David will not yield to despair and notice that he seeks the face of God, he seeks the person of God not his blessings but the light of his countenance. True believers in their distress and suffering if giving a choice whether to be delivered or to be blessed with the countenance and presence of God in their sufferings would choose the latter. God’s presence to them is better than all the gold in the world or the finest comfort. They would rather suffer than enjoy the comforts of Egypt, for God vs. 7 has put more joy in their hearts than they have when their grain and wine abound. The saints have a joy in which all the luxuries of this world could never afford. The presentness of  Christ in their hearts is much more treasured than food on the table. They rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Have you not yet tasted of this joy which cannot be purchased, if not then I beseech you to forsake this world’s joys and sell them all and come and have heaven’s joy which is free.

David finishes the psalm with a reward that comes to all who put their trust in God. Vs. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep. Has your day proved difficult? Has the day brought you nothing but storms? Now is the time to ponder and sit still on your bed, now is the time to put your trust in God and in peace you will lie down and sleep. Did not our precious Lord sleep in the storm and rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith. You may also sleep like our Lord, for God alone makes you dwell in safety.


K.Oni

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