Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:1-8 ESV
The Lord’s mercy answers our desperate cries with unhindered sanctified joy. David goes to the Holy Judge first even when it is ultimately against men that he files his complaint. In the middle of a raging battle, he receives peace. [i] When we are in distress, there is only One that can completely understand our hearts. It is the same One who alone has the power to change the hearts of others.
David goes to the Lord when he is in anguish, even though it is men who are the cause of his distress. The king of Israel goes to the King of kings in prayer with humility yet boldness and calming trust. David’s confidence is not in himself or an army of men, but in the covenant relationship, he has with the LORD, and His steadfast love. David knew God intimately for he had seen His past faithfulness. In Him, we can rest in safety even while the adversary wages war to devour us. David found security and rest because God reigned supreme.[ii] Then, after he brings his case to God, he pleads with men. Spurgeon urges us to do likewise, “Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”[iii]
When David addresses his adversaries, he exhorts them onto repentance. David pleads for them to come to the Lord and put away their anger and bitterness. Is this how we respond when people oppose us for righteousness? To do so is a demonstration of genuine humility. When others persecute us for Christ sake, we can’t focus on the wrong against us, but recognize it is a greater opposition toward the Lord. We should not take offenses personal but seek to lead our enemies to reconciliation with God. David has a clear conscience. We too must diligently come against sin in confession and repentance to cleanse our conscience and find rest for our souls. The Lord is the one who bestows or withdraws favor and allows persecution to refine us. Moreover, David knew He was in God’s will and could with confidence, say, “The Lord sets apart the godly for himself.” Can we also say that to oppose us is to go against God?
Abba, Father, You are near when we call, may those around us, even our enemies, stand reverently silenced to see Your mighty hand of deliverance during the trials and persecutions in our lives, and turn to you for salvation. May your name in us ever be praised.
[i] Varner, Will. Awake O Harp. (Crossway, 2001), 18.
[ii] Lawson, Steve. Holman Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 1-75. (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 33.
[iii] Spurgeon, Charles. “Charles A. Spurgeon’s A Treasury of David.” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=spur&b=19&c=4. (Accessed 5/30/19).