Psalm 4 – Answer Me When I Call

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Ps 4:2

  1. When you and I pray, how often do we insist that God answer? My personal experience is that more often than not, we just present our prayer topics to God and then hope that he answers at least something.
    1. David begins his psalm with “Answer me.” David doesn’t just pray for the sake of praying, David prays his prayer because he is in a tight spot and needs an answer!
    2. Unfortunately, it is a human phenomenon that we turn to God only when we are faced with a number of unsolvable problems and fail to save ourselves in any way. What if we learned to pray to God even when life was good and everything was working? Then maybe we wouldn’t so often find ourselves in those desperate situations that force us to pray.
    3. Sometimes it may even be that it is God himself who leads us into trials that hopefully lead us to learn to depend on God always, not just when there is no other way out, and to be prayerful always, not just when we desperately need something.
    4. It is good to depend on God and we all need to practice this.
  2. How to pray so that God will be pleased? Should you shout louder than everyone else? Should you imitate the tone of voice of successful pastors? Does God respond more often if you use the word “just” here and there and then end the prayer with the words “in Jesus’ name, Amen!”?
    1. God can of course answer our artificial prayers, but it is my personal experience that God wants our prayer to be honest and genuine. Talk to God as you would to a loving parent or a good friend. God loves you and wants to hear your voice!
  3. David knew that he himself was not 100% perfect and intrinsically righteous before God. David knew that it is God who is David’s righteousness!
    1. Sometimes it can be hard to come before God because Satan does everything he can to remind us of our sin, but then it’s time to remember that with Jesus’ death on Calvary, all our sin is forgiven (Matt 26:28, Eph 1:7, Heb 10:17, 1 John 1:9) and we are now righteous before God (Rom 4:5)!
      1. When you and I repent, start believing in Jesus and confess our sin, God takes away all our sin and gives us of His righteousness instead.
      2. If you find it difficult to approach God because you have so much sin in your life, then you should ask God for forgiveness for those sins and possibly go and actually make amends for your sin (Mark 11:25).
    1. All people, even the pious, go through struggles with sin from time to time, and there is a danger that this will lead to a lack of courage to approach God or to withdrawal from the church because of shame.
      1. Don’t we all want to live a successful life with constant spiritual victories? But that’s not always the way life is and the question is how do we deal with life’s difficult episodes? What do we do if we get into financial difficulties, have alcohol problems, fail in our relationships? Do we feel so ashamed that we stop praying and stop going to church?
      2. Don’t get me wrong, but the church has to be a place where you can feel bad. If you have failed, you should be able to get the care and comfort you need so that you can be restored. If you fall ill, you should know that the church will support you in every possible way. The church is a community that cares for every member and takes care of those who are weak and need help.
      3. Who knows, next time you might be the one who gets into trouble for various reasons and how do you want the church to treat you?
      4. Jesus once said: “Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye also unto them.” (Matthew 7:12).
  4. David knew from experience that God used to help him when he was in a tight situation and therefore he dared to trust that God would also hear this prayer.
    1. It is always important to remember all the wonderful things God has done in our lives in the past. These situations can be very helpful the next time we are in a difficult situation. You can then remember that God has been faithful in the past and therefore feel confident that He will be faithful in the future.

Ps 4:3-4

  1. When you look at the world around you, it’s easy to get depressed by all the evil that’s everywhere. How long will this go on before God intervenes?
    1. There will indeed come a day when the Lord Jesus will return to earth and that day will come as a surprise to everyone. Therefore, it is good to put away all your sins as soon as possible (Matt 24).
    2. There will come a day when the Lord Jesus returns to earth (Acts 1:11, Luke 21:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:2), a day often referred to in the Bible as “the day of the Lord” or “the day of Christ”.
    3. When Jesus returns, on the “day of the Lord”, all believers will be “saved” (1 Peter 1:5) and all dead believers will be “raised to life” while all dead unbelievers will be “raised to judgment” (John 5:29). Because Jesus sacrificed himself by dying on the cross, at his return he will not condemn believers but will instead save “those who wait for him” (Heb 9:28). However, according to Paul, even Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and “receive recompense for what he has done in this life, good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10) but it is only the ungodly who “will be judged and condemned.” (2 Pet 3:7).
    4. According to Matthew, Jesus will sit on his throne and “separate the sheep from the goats”. Believers will “take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world” (Matthew 25:34), while unbelievers will go “to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Those who do not belong to Jesus will “go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt 25:46).
    5. So there will come a day when the Lord Jesus himself will set everything right. Even if at the moment it seems that the wicked are doing well, we pious believers should not be jealous of them because we know that God will judge sin and evil.
  2. In other words, it may be relevant to examine one’s own life from time to time. If you are living in some kind of sin, how much longer do you plan to go on? If you know it’s sin, why not stop your sin and instead do right by yourself right now?
    1. However, one must remember the important difference between being a “sinner” and “sinning”. All people, even devout Christians, sin from time to time, but this does not necessarily mean that one has automatically lost one’s salvation. On the other hand, anyone who lives as a conscious and obvious sinner should repent and pray for salvation and forgiveness of sins.
  3. David asks his enemies, “How long will you insult my honor?” It is not uncommon for a Christian trying to live a pious life to be mocked and questioned for trying to do what is right.
    1. What do you do when your colleagues fiddle with your company tax, when your friends tease you for not wanting to drink alcohol or have sex before marriage? It’s not easy to stand up for what you think is right when people around you are constantly mocking you. But even though it’s hard, keep seeking your strength from the Lord and you’ll see how “wonderfully the Lord deals with the pious”!
  4. David knew that “the Lord hears when I cry out to him.” How sure are you that God hears your prayers? In the Bible we can find some clues to answering prayer:
    1. Remain in Jesus (John 15:7), pray in faith (Matthew 17:20-21), fast (Matthew 17:21), confess your sins (James 5:16), love the word of God (Proverbs 28:9), don’t just rabbit on empty words but pray in earnest (Matthew 6:7).

Ps 4:5

  1. When you see with your own eyes all the evil and sin that is all around you, it is easy to get so angry that you do something rash and stupid. David warns against this and urges us instead to calm down, think it over, sleep on it, ask God for guidance and then trust that the Lord will show us how to do it.

Ps 4:7-9

  1. Perhaps Israel had experienced a severe drought, which had led many Israelites to turn to the Canaanite gods of weather and fertility for help. Perhaps they had then received “grain and wine in abundance” and thus believed that these gods were better than the God of Israel.
    1. It seems that those who, in their hour of need, abandoned their faith in God and sought help elsewhere said to David, “Who can make us see the good?” These people had lost their faith in God when life became too difficult.
      1. But David chooses to stand firm in his belief in God’s goodness even when life around him looks dark and difficult. David knew that the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) was true; God will give us his peace and light eventually. Even if we don’t see it right now, we can trust God to eventually intervene in our situation, and so we don’t abandon our faith in God and stay despite all the difficulties.
    1. Believers complaining about how well the wicked are doing is common in the Bible:
      1. 2 But my feet were about to stumble, my steps were about to fail,3 for I envied the proud, when I saw that it went well with the wicked...16 When I tried to understand this, it seemed too difficult to me,17 until I entered the sanctuary of God and saw how they fare in the end. (Ps 73:2-3, 16-17)
  2. Have you ever felt that the wicked are doing so well in everything in life while you as a Christian are struggling to make ends meet? Why does it seem that the ungodly are so successful while you who are pious and have chosen not to cross the line to make money are always struggling financially?
    1. Here David shows us that even though the wicked have “plenty of grain and wine”, David has something better because God has given him joy and allows him to live in peace and security. My personal experience is that it is far more valuable to have joy and peace than to be rich. 
    2. Many Christians have testified that even when the world around them is falling apart, they have been filled with a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7).
    3. The wicked may be happy when they have “plenty of grain and wine,” but as soon as the money and supplies run out, trouble quickly piles up. The believer can be constantly happy because of the peace that God gives, a peace and joy that nothing in the world can ever take away.
  3. David could go to bed with a clear conscience and sleep in safety, because he trusted in the Lord, not in his emotions, his money or anything else.
    1. When Peter was imprisoned and was to be executed the next day, he should perhaps have been afraid for his life or at least had trouble sleeping, but no! Peter was not even awakened by the sudden appearance of an angel from heaven in a blaze of light, Peter was so deeply asleep that the angel had to nudge him to wake him up (Acts 12:6-7).
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