If you were with us last week, you will recall from our study of Psalm 3 that King David is on the run. His son Absalom is attempting a military coup. Absalom wants to be Israel’s next King, and if he has to kill his father to make it happen, so be it. In Psalm 4, we see David’s continued response to this persecution. When faced with adversity, David turns to God in prayer. His instinctive response is to cry out to God (v. 1): “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” This is a prayer of desperation. David knows that he is in over his head and if God doesn’t answer, he is in big trouble. And so he begins by appealing to God’s justice.
Look what David does next. He takes present comfort in God’s past faithfulness. He says, “You have (past tense) relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” David’s prayer here is instructive for us. He begins by taking comfort in God’s just character and past faithfulness. Only after doing that does he turn his attention to the subject of his prayer: his enemies. David begins by calling them to repentance. He is saying, “warn those who are in the wrong” (vv 2-3): “How long will you employ deception and lying to pursue this empty, futile cause? How long will you continue making baseless charges against me?”
David continues his warning in verse 3: ”But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him.” David is drawing a stark contrast between himself and his enemies. He is warning them that God is on his side in this dispute over who should be Israel’s king, not theirs. The phrase “godly man” in verse 3 is a translation of the Hebrew word “hased.” A “hased” is a person that God has chosen to be in a covenant relationship with himself. And it is important to note that God’s commitment to bless that person, that “hased,” is not grounded in their obedience, but rather in God’s loyal love which often displays itself in acts of unmerited favor.
Remember, David was far from perfect. In the past, he committed both adultery and murder. But God set his loyal love upon David. And despite David’s moral lapses, God did not remove his kingship. God continued to bless him and to treat him with unmerited favor. And this is how God deals with you, as well, if you have a relationship with Him through Christ. As God’s children, we have a standing in grace, which means that God is free to bless us despite our sin and disobedience. David understood this truth. In fact, he relied upon it. This is why he says at the end of verse 3, “The Lord hears when I call to him.” Next, he provides them with some instruction in verses 4-5: “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the Lord.” We are to be careful not to sin. You may want what you do not have so badly, you will be tempted to sin in order to get it, or to sin because you did not get it. God won’t bless that.
David’s son Absalom wanted to be Israel’s king. He and his followers wanted it so badly they were willing to kill David to get it. David knew that there were many citizens in his country who were discontent with how their lives were playing out under his reign. David’s reign may have had very little to do with their life situation, but he understood our tendency to look outside of ourselves to place blame. Here David is, hiding out, in fear of his life, yet showing concern for his discouraged countrymen (vv. 6-7). David prays that God will pour out his favor and blessings upon His people. Apparently, despite his life being threatened, David is already experiencing God’s answer to this prayer. David is saying, “It’s true, my circumstances are bad. Members of my own family and trusted friends have turned against me, but God, you are in control of this world. My enemies can only do what you allow. I am immortal until my work here is done. I am safe in your loving arms. Knowing that, I can sleep soundly at night.”
If David can say that, in the midst of his circumstances, so can we. We are God’s children, and according to Romans chapter 8, God causes all things to work together for our good; that is, to make us more like his Son, the Lord Jesus. He is committed to our welfare. Nothing can separate us from his love and purposes for our lives. When we fully grasp this comforting truth, we can, like David, rest and sleep soundly in the arms of God no matter what we are facing.
In a time of crisis:
- Cry out to God.
- Warn those who are in the wrong.
- Instruct them to do right.
- Seek God’s blessings for others.