A WEEKLY WALK THROUGH THE PSALMS

PSALM 4

This psalm expresses a real confidence in the Lord.  This is not a confidence that comes as a result of everything going great in his life.  This is a confidence that comes as a result of how God has gotten him through the difficult times.  It might be expressed in the phrase – ‘no winter, no spring’.  Verse 7 is the heart of the psalm: “Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound”.  This psalmist believes that his gladness was greater in times of testing than in times of prosperity.  In truth, without the difficulties, he would not have known the joy that he now knows.  As one old saint said: “Ah! I could have done without my joys, but I could never have done without my sorrows.”

Most of us, I suspect, would want to say just the opposite.  Most of us could do without our pains and sorrows.  Let me experience some of that prosperity.  Let my grain and wine abound.  Joy that comes in good times is indeed joy, but if it is based only on the good times then what happens to that joy when the struggles come?  But joy that comes out of experiencing God in the midst of our struggles is based on something far deeper, far more lasting.

This psalmist has known struggle.  What kind of struggle, we don’t know for sure.  At the very least there are people who are attacking his honor, who are lying about him.  Judging by his reaction, it must be serious.  So he calls on the Lord to help him.  This is not a call of last resort – which is sometimes what our prayers become.  This call comes from someone who has had a steady acquaintance with what God has been up to in his life.  He believes that God is on his side, and says that if these ‘others’ would really think about it (vs. 4-5), they could see that is true.  It is always a dangerous thing, of course, to believe that God is on ‘my’ side.  How often does that happen in our world with groups or individuals?  There are those who want to claim God as their own.  While this psalmist believes he is righteous with God, it must always be with a sense of humility that we believe that to be so – and always with an openness to be led by God to see the truth wherever it may be.

And yet, because he does believe it, because he does know a joy that has come out of the difficulties of his life – a joy that couldn’t have come from any other place or in any other way, he is at peace with it all: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety”.  It is a wonderful lullaby, like the prayer we used to say: “Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep”.  However important a man he was, however much he struggled in his life, in the evening he became like a child, a trusting child of God, one of the beloved to whom God gave greatly of God’s love.  May that be so for you as well.

Prayer:  O God, source of deliverance and help, do not let our hearts be troubled, but fill us with such confidence and joy that we may sleep in your peace and rise in your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.