“But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
The Lord hears when I call to him.”
~Psalm 4:3 (NRSV).
This psalm can almost be taken as a poem of split confidences, and verses are taken out of it carte blanche for devotional purposes — particularly verses 4 and 8.
But as a whole it’s an emotional rendition to the Lord in defence of innocence, for the psalmist has found themselves awash with stain for things not of their doing!
We easily identify with this. Times have come to all of us where fairness has been blindsided for iniquity — betrayal for absolutely no reason. This can vary from the coherent aggression of someone taking aim at us via backstabbing to the implicit lack of recognition for things we deserve appreciation for.
In other words, the psalmist’s reputation lies in tatters and the claims are baseless.
Flow and Features of the Psalm
The psalm commences with a plea to God for the fact of their circumstances — a mood of, “Lord, how can this be?” becomes the psalmist.
But, room is both sought and thanked-for in receipt. Prayer is that room; the capacity to pray and the cognisance of bringing to God these matters that are confounding, for nothing else will help.
Verse 2 is a direct taunt at the people who’ve levelled the vexatious claims on the psalmist. It’s taken a bit of pluck to come at them with these accusations, for the one bringing the prayer before God is most at home at the ‘Lord’s right’. Their complaint engenders the perplexing temptation to disobey God — in their anger, though, they’re chided not to sin.
Verse 3 (profiled at top) commences a transition back to meditating on God and right thinking.
The verses ensuing are arranged in such a fashion that the ever-brightening facets of the Lord are seen outweighing this daily concern. Beyond these people’s unfaithfulness is the Lord’s faithfulness. The bigger things of life are now placed in right context.
The sentiment expressed in this psalm is close to all our hearts. We have all been falsely accused and have suffered damaged reputations as a result. How often are people’s perceptions of us interminably tainted because of such lies?
The psalm’s greatest attribute in our daily application is the reminder to re-focus on God after we’ve noted incidences of betrayal.
There is a rapid shift from the visceral anger of a blighted person — one innocently winged — to the calmness returning interiorly, such that peace beyond the world’s understanding is the brisk God-anointed achievement.
Beyond aspects of betrayal to all notions of disappointment, this psalm shows us once again the bona fide value of prayer as a process for transforming our hearts. A softened heart is hence informing an enlightened (renewed) mind, per Romans 12:1-3; one able to think as God requires us to think for Spiritual healing to take place.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.