“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for Thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety” (v.8). Here, in its closing verse, we find the central theme of Psalm 4 – peace, the peace of God. This Psalm can be divided into four sections: v. 1 - prayer for help; vs. 2-3 - reproof of his enemies; vs. 4-5 - exhortation of his enemies; vs. 6-8 - confidence in God. It is in the closing section (vs. 6-8) that we come to the heart of this Psalm’s message for us – the peace of God and confidence in God. The Psalm points us to the peace of God so that we might have confidence in God. Before we come to the Psalmist’s confident affirmation of the peace of God, we must first take a look at his struggle to cope with the opposition that comes from those who mock him (v. 2). He is able to cope with this opposition because he has come to rejoice in God as a prayer-answering God (v. 1). v.1 : prayer for help The Psalmist had learned that his own experience of the divine mercy was the strongest support on which he could always rely in times of trouble. On many occasions, the Psalmist had experienced this divine mercy. God had heard his prayer. God had answered his prayer. God had helped him. This was the firm foundation on which he was able to take his stand in the face of fierce opposition. vs. 2-3 : reproof of his enemies v. 2 – From his faith in the divine mercy, the Psalmist derived spiritual authority with which he was able, with clarity and conviction, to reprove the doubts and reproaches of his opponents. His directness of speech comes from his realization that when anyone slanders the man of God, they are also slandering God. Note that reproof opens the door for return. He is calling upon them to return to the Lord. By asking the questions, “How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?”, he is saying, “Is it not time that you stopped slandering God and started worshipping Him?” v.3 – Here, the Psalmist is giving his testimony. He’s no longer reproving. He’s evangelizing. To his backslidden friends, he has asked the question, “How long will you ignore God’s grace?” Now, he is saying to them, “God has been gracious to me. Can you not see this? He is my Saviour. He can also be your Saviour.” vs. 4-5 : exhortation of his enemies v. 4 – Here, the Psalmist offers some pastoral advice to his backslidden friends. They have made themselves his enemies. He says to them, “Tremble, and sin not!” (v. 4a). They are to tremble before God. They are to fear God. They are to stand in awe of God. With a wholesome fear of God and a true reverence of God, these men are to turn from sin. God is calling them to repentance. When they are in the quietness of their own beds, they are to think seriously about their relation to God (v. 4b). Why does he specify the night time? He knows that our thoughts are easily distracted when we are out and about among people. He knows that, when we are on our own in the quietness of the night, we can think more seriously about the things that really matter. These men are being called to get alone with God so that they might examine themselves with true honesty. v. 5 – God is not looking only for outward ceremonies. He’s looking for pure sacrifices, offered in a spirit of faith, humility, sincerity and heartfelt repentance. There’s something more important that the outward sacrifice. It’s the state of the heart before God. The Psalmist is urging his backslidden friends to return to the Lord. He’s calling them to get to know the love of God in their hearts and lives. vs. 6-8 - confidence in God v. 6 – Many are content with material prosperity. They enjoy the worldly blessings, which they have received from God. They never think of giving thanks to God. The Psalmist prays that the light of God’s countenance may shine upon us. He prays that God may look upon us with a Father’s love. Those who put their trust in prosperity have a form of happiness. It is not, however, true joy. Those who seek happiness in a worldly way of living need to be reminded that true joy is found in God alone. v. 7 - “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather have Jesus than riches untold.” “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” The joy of the Lord is the believer’s most priceless possession. The Psalmist speaks of light, joy and peace. We will only know the joy of the Lord when when the Father’s love shines upon us. We will only know the peace of God when we have the joy of the Lord, lifting our hearts. v. 8 : We have received the Psalmist’s testimony concerning the grace of God in his life. Let’s turn to the Lord with sincerity of heart. Let’s come to Him and enter into the joy of His favour. Let’s receive the gift of His peace into our hearts. God’s peace in our hearts – What a wonderful blessing this is. This blessing can be ours through faith in Christ. May God grant that His peace will be given to each one of us.
Here, we have David's spiritual autobiography. God is saying to us, "What about you? Do you have a spiritual autobiography?" Here, we learn about David's distress and David's deliverance. God is saying to us, "Come to Me in your distress. Come to Me and receive your deliverance." This Psalm can be subdivided into four two-verse sections. vs. 1-2 - his complaint; vs. 3-4 - his confidence; vs. 5-6 - his security; vs. 7-8 - his prayer and his rejoicing. The Psalm begins with David's distress. Every one of us knows what this is like. We have been where David was. As we look at this Psalm, let's note how David handled his experience of distress. He took it out of his own hands. He placed it in the hands of God. vs. 1-2 : David's complaint was not addressed to man. He brought his complaint to God. It was not a bitter complaint, spoken against God. It was a humble and honest plea for understanding and help. In the context of worship, he offered his prayer to God. Forsaken by men, he clung all the more firmly to God. This Psalm became very meaningful to me at a time of complaint. I was wondering whether it was really worth continuing as a Christian. Unless I heard the voice of God, reassuring me, there and then, I felt that I was on the verge of turning back. My complaint was addressed to God. I spoke to God about my feelings. He spoke to me about His faithfulness. I read the first two Psalms. It seemed to me, at that time, that they had nothing to say to me. I read Psalm 3. I was given the grace to keep on going in the way of faith. What is God teaching us? - Let's be humble before God and honest with Him. Let's not take our complaints about God to men. Rather, let's take our complaints about men to God.Let's not speak against God. Let's speak to Him. Let's not allow our complaints to drive us away from worship. Let's keep on worshipping the Lord. Let's bring our complaint to the Lord. Let's bring it to Him as a plea for understanding and help. vs. 3-4 : David's confidence can be summed-up in one three-letter word: GOD. God is his shield. God is protecting him from danger. God is his glory. God gives him true honour. David is convinced that the Lord will "lift his head." He didn't just turn to God because he was in dire straits. His whole life was rich in prayer and faith. - He had trusted God in the past. - He trusted God in the present. - He would trust God in the future. In my own time of testing, when I first came across this Psalm, I needed to be directed to God. I knew all about my own weakness. I didn't need to be reminded of that. I needed to be pointed away from myself to the Lord - my shield, my glory and the lifter of my head. That was what kept me going. He kept me going. "'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace shall lead me home." What is God teaching us? - Let's be constant, in faith and prayer. We're not to turn to God only when we face times of great difficulty. - Let's recognize our weakness. Let's turn to God and find our true strength in Him. vs. 5-6 : David's security lay in the assurance that God is greater than all his enemies. Remember the words of Scripture - "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). With such a faith, David was able to exchange his own weakness for God's strength. He was able to exchange his own fear for God's courage. The words of Psalm 3 lifted me. Just when I needed them most, these words were given to me by God. My response was to offer my praise and thanksgiving to God. What is God teaching us? - God is greater than all our enemies. God is greater than all our circumstances. vs. 7-8 : David's Prayer and Rejoicing - It's so important to note David's response to life's trials. He prayed. "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." Note the character of David's prayer. He prays for deliverance. He prays for salvation. His prayer is a personal prayer - "Help me, O my God." He prayed with assurance - "Deliverance belongs to the Lord." He prays for others - "Thy blessing be upon Thy people!" In my own time of testing, it was my reading of Scripture that sent me to my knees to pray with joy. What is God teaching us? Pray for salvation. Make it a personal prayer. Pray with assurance. Pray for others.
Burdensome religion and joyous faith are worlds apart. They are exact opposites.
“I have to” – How shallow and superficial is “I have to” religion. The man or woman who thinks like this hasn’t even begun to appreciate the great love of Jesus Christ.What a far cry this is from a truly heartfelt and joyful Christian faith! When someone is really interested in something, it’s never a matter of “I have to.” - Does a young man, desperately in love, “have to” meet his sweetheart? - Does a football fanatic “have to” travel miles to watch his team? - Does a music lover “have to” buy the CDs and go the concerts of his favourite band? - Does a keen golfer “have to” play golf? Do you get the point? The real question is not “Do I have to?” It’s “Do I want to?” It’s much better to do something good because you want to – not just because you have to! Have you begun to appreciate something of the great love of God, which is revealed in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have, you will count it your great privilege and wonderful pleasure to come to His Table and remember His love for you, with joyful and heartfelt thanksgiving. There are times when even the strongest of Christians don’t feel on top of the world. There are times when attendance at worship seems to be more of a duty than a delight. When we feel like this, we need to be reminded of the facts of the Gospel. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised again for us. As we remember these great facts, our feelings will, once again, be stirred to worship our Saviour with our whole heart. When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, that’s the time when you most need to come and join the people of God as they offer their thanksgiving to the Lord. - Come to Church when you want to because you want to. - Come to Church when you don’t want to, because you need to. When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, you will find all kinds of excuses for yourself. When I was married, the minister said that both prosperity and adversity can lead to marital breakdown. In times of adversity, a man may forget his wife. He may say, “I can’t afford to keep a wife.” In times of prosperity, a man may forget about his wife. as he becomes more prosperous, he may become fed-up with the wife he loved when he wasn’t so well-off. Prosperity and adversity can lead a man away from his God. Prosperity may make a man say, “I have no need of God.” Adversity may make a man say, “It’s all God’s fault.” Prosperity and adversity provide us with tests which can either make us or break us. The man whose real interest is Christ will grow into a deeper sense of heartfelt gratitude to his Saviour. The man whose interests centre on other things will, perhaps gradually yet nonetheless definitely, forget about his Saviour. The contrast between religion as an tedious burden and Christ as a source of joy is brought out well in Psalm 1. In the first Psalm, we learn about happiness. We learn about the way to find happiness. The basic message is this: the man who finds happiness is the man who loves the Lord. The man for whom religion is a tedious burden will know nothing of true happiness. He hasn’t found true happiness because he hasn’t learned to trust and obey. This is the lesson we must learn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” A striking contrast is drawn between the happy man and the unspiritual man who doesn’t take God seriously. When the Psalmist draws this contrast, there’s no suggestion of a “holier-than-thou” attitude. We’re not to look down on other people. We’re not to consider ourselves superior. Such religious arrogance has no places has no place in the hearts of those who have tasted the goodness of the Lord. We are sinners. We have been saved by God’s grace. What right have we to despise others? The Good News of Christ’s love has brought great blessing into our hearts and lives. we dare not keep this blessing to ourselves. We are called to live a holy life – but we must never forget that our holiness comes from the Lord. It comes from His love. This is the love which is always reaching out to others, inviting them to receive God’s forgiveness and calling them to walk in the pathway of holiness. In Psalm 1, we learn about (a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2); (b) the stability of the man of God (vs. 3-4); and (c) the future of the man of God (vs. 5-6). At each point, a contrast is drawn between the man of God and the worldly man. The aim of the first Psalm is to press for a decision. The Psalmist doesn’t say, “Here’s an interesting contrast between two different ways of thinking about life.” He wants his readers to stop walking in the world’s way and start walking in the Lord’s way. He wants us to say, “From now on, I will walk in the way of the Lord.” (a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2) The Psalmist emphasizes the importance of right conduct. In verse 1, he does this negatively – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly … “ In verse 2, he does this positively – “his delight is in the law of the Lord … “ The way of disobedience is a way that gets progressively worse (v. 1). First, there is “walking in the counsel of the wicked”, which means letting oneself be guided by the advice of the evildoers. Next, there is “standing in the way of sinners”, which means conforming to the example of sinners. Thirdly, there “sitting in the seat of the scoffers”, which means actively participating in the mocking of sacred things. The way of obedience is directly related to the revealed will of God in the Word of God – Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate (v.2). (b) the stability of the man of God and the instability of the worldly man(vs. 3-4) Which describes your life?
Here, the Psalmist uses the language of biology (v. 3). He shares with us the fundamental law of the divine biology- A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. He uses the language of the harvest to show us that the life that is lived apart from God is empty, meaningless and worthless. This is so different from the meaningful and valuable life of faith. (c) the future (vs. 5-6) The Psalmist states quite categorically that those whose lives haven’t been built on Christ will not stand in the judgment. The godless man’s meaningless existence will be seen in its complete futility. On that Day, the things that really matter will be seen as the ultimate meaning of life. These things are faith and obedience. Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny. We’ve only one life to live. Only what’s done for Jesus will last. Where do you stand in relation to all that Psalm 1 says to us? May God grant that you will stand with Christ – to trust Him, to obey Him, to serve Him, to love Him and to live for Him. May this be the desire of your heart, the conviction of your mind, the resolve of your will, the words of your mouth and the actions of your life.
In Philippians 2:8, we read of Jesus going into “the far country” (Luke 15:13) – “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” – so that we might have an even greatest Homecoming of all – Christ has been “exalted … to the highest place.” He has been given “the Name that is above every name.” What a day it will be when “at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Lord, there is always something more to be done for You. Help us never to say, “I’ll leave it to someone else” or “I’ll leave it until tomorrow.” The things that are left to someone else or left until tomorrow often end up becoming the things that never get done. Help us, Lord, to be less casual and more committed in our attitude to Your work.
Lord, we need Your wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:10). We need Jesus – He is Your wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). Without Jesus, we’re fools. We may think that we’re wise – but we’re not. Jesus makes us wise. True wisdom comes from Him. When we build our lives on Jesus, we are truly wise (Matthew 7:24-27). Lord, give us Your wisdom – the wisdom that knows the most important thing: Jesus is our Saviour.
* The suffering of Christ - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1).
These words lie at the heart of Christ's suffering. He suffered for us. He died for our salvation. He is our Substitute and our Saviour: "He died that we might go to heaven, saved by His precious blood." He went in obedience to the Cross so that we might be called to obedience from the Cross. He was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.
* The glory of Christ - "I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the congregation I will praise You" (Psalm 21:22).
Christ's prayer was answered. God raised Him from the dead. Apparent defeat was turned into glorious victory. The cloud of darkness was removed. The glorious light shone through. death is a defeated enemy. Resurrection to eternal life - this is our glorious hope.
As we look at the death and resurrection of Christ, let us give all the glory to God for all that He has done for us.