Verse of the Day Devotion. Psalm 4:1
“Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” – Psalm 4:1
First, I want to clarify that David is not telling God to answer him, but asking Him. David has been through a lot in those days. In Psalm 3, we read about him dealing with the troubles brought about by his son Absalom who rebelled against him along with the vast majority of Israel who followed Absalom. Now, in chapter four, we see that many great men were lying about David, speaking ill of him, and ultimately defaming his character. “You sons of man, how long will my honor be treated as an insult? How long will you love what is worthless and strive for a lie?” Psalm 4:2. David’s life as king was not an easy one. He found himself suffering through all kinds of trials. But he understood with full clarity what would truly bring God’s people through rough times, that being the Almighty God. “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 4:3.
Then David lays out four basic imperatives directed at the people there, and to us as well. First, we are to tremble but not sin. “Tremble, and do not sin;” Psalm 4:4a. We are to understand that to go against what God commands is sin and thus we must focus all our efforts and thoughts on not sinning against Him. Unfortunately, too many people ignore this and twist the verse such that they see, ‘sin, but tremble not’. We see so many people, who call themselves Christians, going about sinning and not thinking anything about it. This is especially true of many who believe that once you are saved God forgives anything you do going forward. This concept is known as antinomianism which has the idea that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of following any moral, religious or social norms or laws. The word itself is from the Greek that means ‘against the law.’ Our hearts must be such that we tremble at the thought of sinning at all. Next, we are to think about what we are doing. “Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still. Selah” Psalm 4:4b. On your bed, calmly consider and meditate on these things in the silence of night, when you are at leisure from distracting business. Be still and compose your tumultuous minds. Think about what you do, and if it is right then continue, but if it is wrong, then stop and ask forgiveness and no longer continue in this way.
Next, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.” Psalm 4:5a. Do not attempt to offer a sacrifice to God for prosperity in your present rebellious conduct. Such a sacrifice would be a sin. Turn to God from whom you have revolted; and offer to him a righteous sacrifice, such as is lawful and such as He can receive. In other words, do not just offer something to God so that you can receive something from Him, or offer up to God something that is not acceptable to Him. And finally, we are to trust in the Lord. He loves us, wants the best for us, and can do anything. This is the God we serve, and He is the only one we can trust completely.
Then David finishes this with the following. “Many are saying, who will show us anything good?” Psalm 4:6a. He starts this by asking a rhetorical question ‘Who will show us anything good?’ After continual disappointment from man, we may begin to doubt if God will show us any good. But not David. He says, “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, LORD! You have put joy in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine are abundant. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety.” Psalm 6b-8. Despite what the cynics said about God not being there or ignoring them, David trusted that the LORD would give him joy beyond what the ungodly had in their prosperity. And because he trusts in God, he can lie down and sleep in peace because the Lord provides them safety in all their ways. We can imagine a man lying down to sleep, tormented by all of what his enemies or fake friends say about him. David could be that man, but instead he trusted in the LORD. He therefore had a gladness that the world could not take away, even with all their slanders and lies.
In closing, no matter which way we read the psalm, one aspect of David’s faith is clear: it is to God that he turns for vindication, and it is in God that He trusts. To the extent that the language of the psalm implies an attack on the David’s honor, David names the Lord as God of my righteousness, which put another way, the God who vindicates me. And in wisdom, we must see life the same way. Life for the Christian can be very difficult, because the enemy hates us and desires to destroy our faith. We need to trust God that no matter our situation, as Christians He is with us and will bring about a good, even if we do not see a good ourselves. Those whom God knew would give their lives to Him can be assured that all things will turn out great. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, President and Founder of True Devotion Ministries.