Wednesday of Easter III – Psalm 4

1 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.

You have surely seen the nesting dolls which are common in Slavic cultures, especially Russia. Brightly painted and tightly fitting together, they are a delight to open and explore.

This is a nesting psalm which reflects the outer and inner life of David the writer.

  1. The first and last verses form the outer layer. David anxiously prays and God gives him peace and makes him dwell in safety.
  2. The next layer is made up of verses 2-3 and 6-7. This is the interface between the outer and inner person. Someone, David does not tell us who, is verbally attacking David. David trusts in God. They look for but do not find God’s blessing. David, on the other hand, already has a heart filled with joy from God.
  3. Verses 4-5 are the central element, the inner David. Be angry but do not sin. Do not act upon it. Your mind will race as you lie in bed, you cannot help that, but you can be silent. Offer the right sacrifice to God and trust Him. Faith lies at the core.

There is much in these days which would stir us up and make us afraid. I read an article by a Lutheran pastor who was pretty sure that in the pandemic restrictions he saw an attempt by the government to silence the Gospel. Is he a conspiracy-believing fool? Is he a prophet? Discernment sometimes eludes me. The psalmist speaks to the thoughts that race through our heads as we lie awake at night or find ourselves alone with our smartphone screens shining disquieting images into our minds. Silence is good. Carefully think before you post. Make the right sacrifices which God has defined as a faithful, humble life which is lived in service to others (Micah 6:8 and Mark 12:32-34). Most importantly trust in the Lord.

Notice how all the anxiety in the first part of the psalm is met with peace, joy, and rest in the second part of the psalm.

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