Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Evening Prayer - Mike T.

Psa 4:1-8 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. 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!
(2) O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
(3) But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
(4) Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
(5) Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
(6) There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
(7) You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
(8) In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

There is obvious real distress that has caused David to turn to God in prayer. This seems to be likely due to men of influence who press some false accusation, some effort to call into question David’s character. He recognizes that relief comes from God. He comes asking God to be gracious. This is a humble and expectant hope that God will hear and answer his prayer like He has done in the past. He recognizes that before God he is a sinner in need of mercy. It is almost as David turns to prayer before God that he speaks to his enemies, to call out to them that they would know what David knows. The believer knows that the Lord sets apart the godly for himself. He can rest confidently and securely knowing that God having called him will not abandon him. There is a two fold understanding of God’s righteousness that David acknowledges. One is that the godly are secure and protected and can rely upon their God while the ungodly and their plans will surely be defeated. God is just and righteous. He will always prevail against His enemies and uphold the righteous who are His own. This promotes peace and confidence for the believer’s heart. But it also causes the believer to desire to call the unrighteous toward repentance. We must pray for our enemies and desire that they would too acknowledge the righteous God. David tells them to stand in awe (tremble) before God and do not sin. Those who do not know God find such a statement absurd. They fill their days seeking their own pleasure and the destruction of others. They deny the existence and/or the authority of God to call them to righteousness. If they would tremble before His might they might be silent and see that their hearts are opposed to God’s rule and authority. While preoccupied with sin and pursuit of their own passions they drown out the voice that would allow them to stop and listen to the one who made them. It is a restless journey and the one on it does not want to slow down or quiet the sounds which hide the soul from the heart. To stop is to face God who they rebel against. If they face this God who instills fear they must stop moving away from Him. That noise and activity that drowns out the heart must be quieted in order to lay bare the sin that hides within. All men are in need of reckoning of their sin, to be silent and stop and ponder. A failure to be still and be quiet is one way many avoid coming to repentance. If the mind is busy and the soul is never quiet the sounds of the heart are drowned out by the incessant noise. One must take time to make silent the noises and distractions of the day and to let the pour soul speak to your heart before you seal its fate for all eternity.
When the soul is quiet and the heart is laid bare then the ways of the past are exposed and can be replaced with a desire to be made right with God once more. In David’s time the sinner sought atonement via sacrifice, a picture of salvation to come in Christ. The believer today relies upon the atonement provided by Jesus on the cross. Then there is joy, peace, security for the soul. Enemies are no longer a threat for those who serve a righteous God. He has rescued us from the greatest enemy that of our own sin. He has bought and redeemed us with His blood. We trust in a mighty God and Savior. David desired that his enemies would turn to God and trust in Him that they would know the joy and peace and security that bless the godly and that they would bring glory to God. We can go to bed tonight confident that the things that trouble us can be given to God, that He will deal with the unrighteous and uphold the godly. Yesterday and tomorrow are in His hands.

“Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress'd?
Speaks hot conscience in thine ear?
Can this world afford thee bliss?
Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flattering, false, and vain it is;
Tremble at the worldling's doom!
Think, O sinner, on thy end,
See the judgment-day appear,
Thither must thy spirit wend,
There thy righteous sentence hear.
Wretched, ruin'd, helpless soul,
To a Saviour's blood apply;
He alone can make thee whole,
Fly to Jesus, sinner, fly!”

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