Psalm #4 – Of God and Men

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. Sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him. Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the LORD. Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4)

David Talks to God
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1)
On the surface it looks like David is commanding God to answer, because He is not. But that is not the case. There is passion in David’s cry to the LORD. He is not trying to persuade or command God to answer, but he is expressing passion. God wants us to care about the things that He cares about. Isaiah says “there is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities” (Isaiah 64:7). David is calling on His name and is arousing himself to take hold of God. I love how it says “You have relieved me in my distress”. Looking at the Hebrew text gives in a more visual picture I think. The Hebrew word for “relieved” is “rachab,” which means “broad or roomy pasture”. The Hebrew word for “distress” is “tsar,” which means “narrow, tight”. The Message translates this as “Once, in a tight place, you gave me room; now I’m in trouble again: grace me! hear me!“. And so we see that God answers prayer and that we can call upon the LORD always in times of trouble, for He will relieve us in our distress.

David Talks to Men
Sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him” (Psalm 4:2-3)
David shifts gear and addresses the ungodly men, questioning how long his glory would turn to shame. But we should also ask this ourselves when we are on a course that is compromising. How long will I play around with this sin? How long will I love something that is not building up treasure in heaven? How long will I continue not only being deceived but actually seeking deception? But know (find out, discern, know by experience) that the LORD has set apart the godly men for Himself. What a beautiful realization! To really know that the LORD has set you apart. And what an assurance we have that the LORD hears when we call on Him! We should be confident that God answers our prayers. And when we see that our prayer is not answered, it would be good to figure out why. Many reasons could cause this, like not abiding in Jesus (John 15:7), unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21), unconfessed sin (James 5:16), or a lack of Bible reading and teaching (Proverbs 28:9).

David Talks to Himself
Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the LORD. Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:4-8)
We are in the same situation as David, and that is that we are surrounded by ungodliness. Seeing this ungodliness could (or sometimes should) be reason to be angry, but yet we never have a reason to sin. We should take the same advice as David gave himself, and that is to turn to God and meditate within our heart, filling our heart and mind with God’s Word. Being surrounded by ungodliness could make us doubt if God will show us any good, yet David trusts the LORD that He will. He turns to God’s promise in the book of Numbers where it is written: “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26). Knowing that the LORD make His face shine on you should put gladness in your heart, regardless of the circumstances. It should make you sleep well at night, knowing that the LORD bless you and keep you, “for You alone make me to dwell in safety

The Fruit of the Spirit #3 – Peace

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)

Our God is a God of peace
It’s difficult when talking about peace not to put it in a context of world peace. No war. Although very noble and necessary to strive for this, I believe that it is naive to think that world peace is achievable. I even dare to say that world peace is not biblical. But I have to be careful saying this and support this with some arguments.

There was world peace in the beginning, harmony with God, before sin entered the world. Humankind decided to rebel against God. Sin entered the world. And sin always leads to death. Yes, there will be world peace again, but this will be at the end when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. In between there will always be sin, war and death.

And although God is a God of peace, which is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:23a (“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;” and “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a), He is waging war right now. Yet we can find peace in Him. He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14a). He is the source of peace. Without Him it is impossible to have peace, because even if there would be world peace yet we do not worship God, we are at war with Him.

But we have a God of peace who is with us. We are completely made holy in Him. His peace equips us in every good thing to do His will (Ephesians 2:14), and so in order to strive for peace we first have to make peace with God (be justified – Romans 5:1), after which we can start the process of santification where we should learn to understand His peace, seek His peace, preserve His peace, and bring His peace.

We have peace promised to us
On several occassions God promises peace to us. As written in Ezekiel 37:26-27 He actually made a covenant of peace with us, which means that it’s unconditional! “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them and I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

The peace that God promises us is a peace unlike any peace we can experience apart from Him. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). It surpasses all comprehesion, as mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“.

We have a duty of seeking and preserving peace
The Bible is quite clear about our duty to seek and preserve peace. We should “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), “so then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19). But in order to do this we should “yield now and be at peace with Him; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21).

We must bring peace
Once we understand that peace comes from God, that we must seek and preserve it, then we must also bring the peace to other around us. We must announce this peace like it’s said in Isaiah 52:7 “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, your God reigns!” Only the Good News of salvation is what ultimately brings peace. We can be at peace with one another, for it is said in Proverbs 16:7 that “when a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him“.

But world peace? No, we’ll have to wait for Jesus’ return (read: Revelation 19:11-16), which is maybe a topic for a future post.