I am reading through the Psalms for my devotions and am currently on Psalm 4. My NASB labels it as an evening prayer of trust in God. David, the author of most, if not all, of the Psalms, had such a beautiful way with words.
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, hear my prayer.” (vs. 1)
Many times in life I have cried out to God for understanding. My heart has ached in many ways and for many things. Sometimes they are things that are not even directly connected with me or my circumstances, but my heart grieves for other people, situations, circumstances.
When I call, God hears, and does relieve me in my distress. So many times, though, I am not immediately relieved of my troubles. At times it seems difficult and pointless to pray when the things I am upset about or my circumstances are not instantly “cured”. Perhaps that is why we must, like David, continue to pray and come to God. He desires a close relationship with us; a relationship that is strengthened through trials, heartaches, disappointments and then finally relief! David’s trials were long-lasting, as are our own, yet as Lamentations 3:22 says, “Because of the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed.”
“How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?” (vs. 2)
The NASB phrases it this way, “aim at deception”. Doesn’t it seem to go this way in our world? That many leaders of our country (and average American citizens at that!) literally strive for what is false & unholy? The horrors of abortion, the “evolved” view of marriage, “friendship covenants” with those who embrace the idea that all Christians and Jews should be eliminated, the list could go on and on. And it is important to call that which is sin, sin. But verse 3 encourages us: “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.” We are SET APART, called to be lights in the darkness, not in harsh judgment, but in love and mercy and with a deep desire to carry out God’s purposes in the way that Christ taught us.
Matthew Henry addresses another matter concerning verse 2 when he says, “Those that profane God’s holy name, that ridicule his word and ordinances, and, while they profess to know him, in works deny him, do what in them lies to turn his glory into shame.” Do we say we are followers God but don’t let our actions reflect this claim? I need to examine myself each day, so that my words and actions are reflections of one another, and that when people look at me they see a person with a heart for God’s purposes and people, rather than a hypocrite.
“Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” (vs. 4)
Godly anger is acceptable: anger over sin, whether our own sin or the sin of the world. But in our anger, we must not commit sin. I think of this when I am disciplining my son. I may be angry at his defiance, his stubbornness, his refusal to obey (that doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes); but in that time of anger I must restrain my emotions, not lashing out, but disciplining him lovingly. I fail miserably at this many days. When I do discipline, sometimes that involves unpleasant consequences for my dear son, but the way in which I carry out the discipline is important. I need to remind myself to be self-controlled every day! Can any of you identify with this? “We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well.” (Henry)
Also, as I meditate on my bed, apparently at night in this example, I would do well to pray for God’s grace to be present in my life and remember that only by His grace can I do anything right! I am in desperate need of His grace even more as every day goes by and life gets messy and complicated. I am so thankful for a trustworthy, faithful God who teaches me and never gives me more than I can handle–even though sometimes, I’m pretty sure I’ve reached my boiling point! “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord.” (vs. 5)
Next Monday I will continue sharing what I have learned from the second half of this chapter!