Benefits For The Godly
Scripture: Psalm 4:1–8
Benefits For The Godly
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Pastor Randy Smith
One of the most intimate things we can do with the Lord is to celebrate the Lord's Supper or as some say, Communion. Of course this is something we always do as a body. Together with the rest of the Lord's family we remember His work on the cross and proclaim His death until He returns. Yet there is also a personal aspect to this as we each examine our own hearts and individually express our appreciation for His tremendous love sacrifice.
The command is to celebrate the Lord's Table on a regular basis. Reason being is that we as humans often forget. God knows we need visible reminders to keep the cross in the center of our affections. We need reminders that every blessing we have with God is only a reality in our lives because of our Lord's work at Calvary.
Soon, we'll be partaking in Communion. But before we do that I'd like to take some time using Psalm 4 to remind you if you are in Christ the amazing privileges you have with God through the death and resurrection of Christ.
1. A Direct Connection
I am calling the first of three points, "A Direct Connection."
In order to really appreciate our connection to God, we need to always remember the reality of where we were before Christ. Let's remember that all people are born in sin. This week I was reading in Ephesians 2 that before Christ we "lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). The Bible knows nothing about a relationship with God apart from Christ. Without Christ, one's connection with God is described with terms like "enemies," "strangers" and the one I just quoted, "children of wrath."
Yet that passage in Ephesians also says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph. 2:4-5).
Only Christ cancelled out our sins and gave us His righteousness. Only through Christ has reconciliation between God and man been accomplished. Only through Christ are we now considered the friends of God. That's why it's not works, but grace. That's why it's not up to us, but all thanks to the work of God.
And with this relationship we don't need to fear God's wrath, but rather we can now approach Him as a loving Father. And one of the benefits of a loving Father is that He cares to listen to us. Isn't that what loving Fathers do?
Look at what David says in verse 1. "Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!"
Unlike last week and David's crisis with Absalom (Psalm 3), we can't be sure of David's distressful situation in Psalm 4. Some type of persecution. But he, like us, knows that we can have the hope that God will listen to us when we call regardless of the situation, and with each situation brings us the storehouse of resources that God always has at His disposal. This is confidence in God.
The godly know that God will never cease to help them until they cease to have a need (Spurgeon). So before David ever turns to man, he first turns to God. It was not just confidence in God's wisdom, strength and sovereignty, but also the confidence that God was for him. It was a firm conviction that God delights in helping His people.
David refers to God in verse 1 as "My righteousness." He knew his standing with God was based on covenant. He knew he had no righteousness of his own that would merit a relationship, but that he and God had a relationship based on God's righteousness given to him. And this God who promises us this incredible grace is, let's remember the righteous God, and being righteous will always stay perfectly faithful to His promises. He must for His own name sake!
Think of it like this. Imagine you were strapped with a huge financial need. Yet next door lives a billionaire. The fact that he is able to help you provides little confidence. The fact that he is willing to help you provides more confidence. The fact that he is obligated to help you provides total confidence.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying God is obligated to help us because we deserve it. I am only saying God has made a promise to His people and He always keeps His word. It's less about meeting our needs and more about His glory being on the line.
The connection with God breeds confidence in God. Therefore David can say in verse 1, "You have relieved me in my distress." What sinful anxiety can he possibly have if he has committed the situation over to God? Didn't Peter teach us this in the New Testament? "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7).
As a footnote, this is not to say that we check our brains at the door. God gave us the ability to think and repeatedly calls us to exercise our "mind of Christ" and process with sound thinking and wise discernment, especially during times of trials. Part of His assistance is for us to make good decisions though His guidance with conscience, the Holy Spirit and Scripture and wise counsel.
So when we go through whatever trial, we need not be anxious because we trust that God is in control of everything and will work all things for our greatest good. Are you thinking that way in whatever trial you are presently experiencing? In other words, we don't claim Christ and then go through difficulties like an atheist.
Therefore David can humbly say in verse 1, "Be gracious to me and hear my prayer." How God delights in a childlike heart, a humble plea for His mercy that exercises faith in His goodness that He will always come to the assistance of His children. And that assistance is affirmed in verse 3 when he says, "The LORD hears when I call to Him."
2. A Direct Calling
So from "A Direct Connection" we go to our second point, "A Direct Calling."
Built into our relationship with God is the understanding that we have a direct calling to live for His glory. That's our responsibility in the covenant. In 1 Peter we read, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). And we proclaim His excellencies both through our actions and also with our words.
It shouldn't be this way, but we all know how difficult it can be to talk to others about God. I want to believe for the Christian that nothing is more passionate on your heart than God - after all you'd be an idolater if there was! It's just that we know that often when we talk about God we will in some way be persecuted. So we don't say anything. On the deepest level, it's a lack of love for God. On a surface level, it's fear of man and being ashamed of God.
It's even more difficult talking about God to those who dislike us. This is the situation David found himself in. Yet David knew this was his calling. Verse 3, "The LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself." To do what? To represent Him. To proclaim Him, even to the very people that were persecuting him.
David prays for them. In a sense he's talking to them when he's talking to God. Verse 2, "O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?"
>The wicked struggle with the godly. From Cain until today, it's always been that way. Animosity! Hatred for God is displayed in a hatred for God's people, especially when one of those (as in David's case) is God's anointed king of the land.
In his prayer, David asks in verse 2, "How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?" From God's perspective this is basically the life of the unbeliever. They too have pursuits, yet the verse says that which they pursue, that which they love is "worthless." None of it counts for eternity. None of it truly satisfies their soul. Apart from living for God, our lives are without purpose, direction, priority. David simply says they "love what is worthless." How tragic! They waste their lives loving what is worthless.
He also says they "aim at deception." What an interesting way to put it! Not only are they deceived, but instead of waking up and looking to uncover deception, they actually aim at it!
I think we are seeing this more than ever with so many causes that unbelievers are so passionate about today. Christians examine themselves. We desire to have the areas of deception in our lives revealed. Yet unbelievers, instead of seeking clarity in the light of truth, they grope in the darkness and aim to be further deceived. It all comes down to natural man's natural inclination to resist God. Aiming at deception. As 2 Peter 2:12 says, they become "like unreasoning animals." Or Romans 1:22, "Professing to be wise, they became fools."
So David prays for them because their only hope is that God would change their hearts and call them to Himself. For only God's grace will enable them to change direction. From loving what is worthless to loving what has value. From aiming at deception to aiming at reality. They can't do it alone. They need a heart transplant from God. They need God's grace.
David then adds six desires in verses 4 and 5 he has for the very ones that are persecuting him. They hate him, but he loves them and loves them in the greatest way possible. He is praying that they turn to God.
First he calls them to "tremble." They need to stand in awe of God. Second he prays that will "not sin." They need to repent and pursue holy living. So tremble before God and don't sin. Interesting because the unbeliever reverses this. They don't tremble before God and they do sin. You see, if we really fear God and tremble before Him, we will really fear sinning against Him.
Third, still in verse 4, David prays they will "meditate in [their] heart." That they will think about their life and consider the error of their ways. Fourth he prays they will "be still." That they will slow down and contemplate their existence in the presence of a God they have resisted.
If the thought life toward God is really changed it will always result in new behavior. So prayer points 1-4 are to contemplate the right attitude and now prayer points 5-6 contemplate the right actions.
Fifth he asks that they will, verse 5, "offer the sacrifices of righteousness." This is true spiritual service to God. This is the right action with the right heart motivation behind it. For example, this is the one that the Israelites often fell short on. You see, for most of their history God has always been a centerpiece in their community. Yet much of their religious deeds were condemned by the prophets because they did their spiritual sacrifices without righteousness. Like people today - reading your Bible, helping the poor, going to church, financial offerings, singing, whatever, God's not impressed. Actually He finds it offensive if the proper heart attitude is not there. It's no different than the Israelites that were out of compulsion offering their animal sacrifices, but the animals presented were the leftovers, the ones nobody wanted. They weren't a "sacrifice of righteousness."
And sixth, David prays they will simply, "Trust in the LORD." It comes down to this. A God-honoring life is a life of faith. Faith that believes that God is and that He has given us Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and in the Bible has given us His promises that we might trust Him in all things.
3. A Direct Confirmation
After his prayer is concluded, David wraps up the Psalm with his own confirmation, our final point - "A Direct Confirmation," that he intended to live out for himself what he just prayed for others.
Verse 6, "Many are saying, 'Who will show us any good?' Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD!" Despite the critics and skeptics, David's focus is on the Lord. "They bring me down. You, God, bring me up." He's looking for God to brighten his spirit. He's looking to God for favor. He's looking to the Lord during trying times to give him hope that He is in control. While others were looking down at the world, David is found looking up to his God.
We also see his confirmation of God's goodness in verse 7. "You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound." They found ultimate joy in worldly blessings. David found His ultimate joy not in the gifts, but the Giver Himself.
So David confirms his relationship to God in verse 8. "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety."
It's a challenging world of uncertainty. Things break, people lie and our health fails. Yet God is always constant. He is unchanging. And because of our relationship with Him through Christ, we can know that He delights in helping us. He is there for us. He hears us when we call. And He gives us gladness and peace. May we continue to celebrate this great relationship and we now remember, in the Lord's Supper, His great work that brought us together.