Friday, April 13, 2018
Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? -- Interlude
You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him. Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. -- Interlude
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord. Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:1-8(NLT)
David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, did what we all do when troubled over an agonizing situation – he sat down to have a little talk with himself. More accurately, David talked with God, but you can count on it that this son of Jesse placed himself vulnerably close to God’s throne for scrutiny; he wanted answers as to why he had to live with false accusations hovering over him from people who just wanted to drag his reputation through the mud.
In the middle part of this Psalm David is confessing his anger to God, but he’s also talking out loud to himself: careful, now; letting the anger you have over this situation control you will destroy you as certainly as the worst sin. Be still and pray all night if you must, but let silence before God and man work out what you’ll mess up if you run your mouth like a raging fire!
You can just feel the temperature let up in the final sentences of David’s prayer. In the opening of this Psalm David was asking God: free me from my troubles. Literally he was asking for relief, space from the pressure of a bad situation. By the end of the prayer he has it. Certainly the trouble hasn’t left; it is David’s spirit and mind that have changed. His prayer has freed him by clearing his mind and allowing him to stand unconvicted before his Maker.
In Shadowlands, based on the life of C.S. Lewis, author, theologian, professor and defender of the faith, Lewis’ wife is dying of cancer. It is a grueling, overwhelming, and life-changing experience. In one scene he shares with the chancellor at Oxford (who is also his pastor) that his wife’s illness caused him to pray all the time. As he walks away he remarks: I don’t pray because prayer changes the facts; I pray because prayer changes me.
It is this fact that shows us the end of David’s prayer as he declares he will be able to lie down in peaceful sleep. This can be seen two ways:
1. David can actually get a peaceful night’s sleep, because being right with God frees your soul and clears your conscience. And…
2. David can die the death of the righteous, cleared of wrongdoing in Heaven’s eyes.
Either interpretation is possible – and both are true.
Do you lie awake fuming over something you cannot control? Is your reputation ruined because you earned it, or someone else is maliciously dragging you through the mud? Has the pressure meter on your life reached the red zone?
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.