Friday, January 09, 2009

Psalm 4

In Psalm 1, we're told the importance of God's word. IT declares we are blessed if we meditate on God's words and if we avoid the scorners. This idea of scorners of God's word pops up in many of the psalms and from Psalm 1 through Psalm 3 we begin to get the idea that it's not religious affiliation or our earthly wisdom or or wonderful ethics or great adherence to moral laws --those these all might be good in their own way-- that produce blessings in one's life. The Psalms promise blessings to those who do not scorn God's word, to those who meditate on it.

In Psalm 4, we see the plight of a man who is determined to believe in God in spite of his distresses and the scornful attitude of those around him.

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame [or my Glorious One into shame]
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods [or lies] ?
Selah

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.


So let's examine it stanza by stanza. The Psalm (or song begins with a plea to God:

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.


Then the speaker speaks to humans...although the humans aren't immediately present. He accuses them of turning his glory into shame. Now this phrase pops up in other places in the Bible. People who glory in their shame or who turn their glory into shame seem to abound everywhere. The folks who turned the Glorious One into shame are the ones who made a golden calf to represent the God who brought them out of Israel. The ones who turn their glory into shame are people who scorn the idea of a good and merciful God and try to make folks who believe in God feel ashamed for their beliefs. ("You believe in that patriarchal God? What an idiot you are!!! You believe God will save you? How unenlightened you are!" You can see that this kind of scornful attitude is not new in the world.) The people who glory in their shame are folks who take delight and honor what is considered a sin in the Bible. A lot of folks like that back in the day. A lot of folks like that now. They love lies, they love delusions. They love the creature more than the Creator. And they are dang proud of that.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame [or my Glorious One into shame]
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods [or lies] ?


Then we see the word which either means "Pause and consider that" or "musical pause."
Selah


The believer then makes a challenge on God's behalf. He can do this because He trusts God. He states clearly that God is aware of him and God has set him apart. Now this could mean God has made the believer a special object of his love and holiness and will protect that person and treat them with favor.

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.


Then the psalmist tells his listeners that he understands that sin sometimes comes from anger sometimes. Perhaps anger at God, anger at bad people, anger at the distresses. What one must do is search one's own heart and be silent before God. When one searches one's heart one begins to see why God is faithful, why sinful men do not really prosper although they seem to. He tells his hearers to trust in God and to offer right sacrifices. In later psalms we will understand that the right sacrifice includes a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, repentance from one's own understanding of what life should be like, trust in God in spite of the assailing troubles.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.


The psalmist acknowledges that there are many people who have lost faith in the goodness of the world? They are looking for a leader to show them the way to happiness or they are looking for someone who will give them hope. The psalmist then returns to speaking to God because he knows that if God shows up in a believer's life in a way the believer understands it...enlightening the believer...that good will indeed be seen.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.


The psalmist declares that the one who believes in God has greater deeper joy than those who seek earthly good or rejoice in earthly harvests.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.


He ends the psalm by once again asserting that although trials blaze all around him, he will remain in peace and safety because he trusts in God.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Post a Comment

Blog Archive

Popular Posts