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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read passage)
Wow! So many of these psalms need no commentary added to them, that is for sure. I feel that way about Psalm 4. I’m going to write a few thoughts here, but please use most of your time just marinating in this text. Read it slowly. Pray it. Yell it. Meditate on it. Rest in it. Rest in the Lord’s presence.
Verse 1 implies that God has not been answering the psalmist’s prayer. I love the honesty we can go to God with. The psalmist is basically saying, “Hey God! Answer me! I know you can! But you haven’t been! I am suffering! I am struggling! Have mercy on me! Hear my prayer!” With full use of exclamation points in the emotion behind this prayer. Remember that the psalms were used in daily worship for the Jewish people. Often our modern day worship songs sand down all the grit and complex edges of following God in a fallen world. Know that God give you full permission in his divine Scriptures to let loose on him with all of your honesty and all of your emotion.
The psalmist’s prayer then switches over to God’s people in verse 2. This becomes a psalm about our sin. About how our disobedience and rebellion against God fractures our relationship with him. Yes, in Jesus that relationship has been restored and made whole (Hallelujah!), but there is still the matter of relational communion with God. It’s not that God loves me less when I sin, it’s that when I sin, the very act of sinning is me turning my back on God. It’s me rebelling against him. I think of my past addiction to porn. God still loved me as much when I was looking at porn as he does right now (thank you to Jesus for making that a reality), but man, that garbage feeling I felt after the porn rush was so real. It wasn’t that God thought I was garbage, it’s that I knew I just spit in Jesus’ face. Whipped his back with the Roman cat of nine tails. Mocked him. That’s a bad feeling. It’s a feeling of being disconnected from the Source of Life. God is the Source of Life. That’s why obeying him and following his will keeps us on the path of true life. We are trusting him that he determines the path of true life, not us, and not popular culture. So when I cut myself off from the Source of Life, when I unplug a lamp from the wall, that life source isn’t flowing the way it’s supposed to. It doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian, but it does mean I’m not shining God’s light the way I am designed to.
This isn’t a message of shame. I hope it’s a message that gets us up out of our shame and re-ignites our purpose. That when the psalmist says to search our hearts and be silent. Our desire to not sin is so we can love God with all that we are. Our desire to not sin isn’t to not do something, it is to do something. To love God! To worship him with all of our strength, mind, soul, and strength. To pursue God’s design for humanity rather than our sinful world’s.
Much of these first four psalms have covered not sinning.
They’ve also each touched on God being our place of rest and safety. I love this. The world feels so unsafe. Our temporary salves to give us feelings of safety are all so broken. So ineffective. I love that the ultimate gift God can give us is his own presence. That like an infant, we can fall asleep in our Father’s arms, knowing he is our shelter in the storm. Knowing true rest can only be found in him.
All the while, this is paradoxed with the psalmist screaming at God in verse 1 to answer his prayer because he isn’t experiencing this rest! The psalmist shows you can yell at God when you don’t feel this rest, while at the same time worshiping him for being the one who gives rest. For persevering in worshiping and following him as the Source of Life, no matter what circumstances swirl around you.
Prayer for the day: Lord, hear my cry! God this world is bleeding! My life is bleeding! My loved ones are bleeding! The poor and oppressed are bleeding! Hear our prayer, Lord! Hear our prayer! Oh great God, give us rest. You are the Source of Life. “To where else would we go Jesus, you have the words of eternal life… (John 6:68)” Thank you Jesus for bringing us rest. Please give me my daily bread today Father. Just as you gave it to me yesterday. And the day before that. Help me to not sin. Help me to live in truth and to not fall to sin’s deception. Help me to trust you. Help me to believe that you are good. Give me peace Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
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