Please read Psalm 4.
Yesterday, we spent a lot of time talking about the title to this Psalm, which is important. There are 150 Psalms in this book, and many of them have titles, so it was good to take a day and understand them better. But we really didn’t dive into the text, so we will do that today.
Psalm 4 is broken up into three sections (verses 1, 2-5, and 6-8), with each section being addressed to a different audience. We will look at the first section today, the second tomorrow, and the third on Monday. You may want to reread verse 1 now.
The verb tenses of this verse are very interesting. Notice that David is asking God to answer him, be gracious to him, and hear his prayer in the present tense. These are all talking about something that David wants to happen now. But, in the middle of his petition, he reminds God of what He has done in the past: “You have given me relief when I was in distress.”
As a military captain and king, David is using a figure of speech that refers to an army that is trapped in a narrow passage. They have no escape as the enemy is closing in from either side. But God then dashes down the rocks that were forming the passage and gives the army room to maneuver. He has given them relief from their distress.
David may be remembering a specific instance of God's deliverance and referring back to it, he may be generalizing the many decisive victories that God has given David, or he may be referring to a spiritual battle—as in “God has relieved my heart with joy when grief and sorrow imprisoned me.” Either way, David is looking back at what God has done for him in the past in order to strengthen his prayer in the present.
We must make monuments to God’s glory when He does something great for us. We must frame the picture on the wall, write the story down in our journal, stack the stones beside the river bed, or build some other altar to the Lord. When God does something great for us, we must make it memorable for years to come.
Then, when trials come in the future, we can look back at what God has already done, and allow it to strengthen our prayers in the moment.
We could rephrase David’s petition in Psalm 4:1 to say this: “Because you have given me relief when I was in distress, I know you will answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You will be gracious to me and hear my prayer!”
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, I know that He will continue to deliver me when I go through trials of various kinds.
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