"Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." - Psalm 4:4-5 (NKJV)
Change their Attitudes
So far in our study of Psalm 4 we have been introduced to a group of people, otherwise known as the ungodly, that are wholly set on personal pleasures and ideals (click here for our study of verse 2). We have also been introduced to a group of people that are the direct contradiction of such philosophy (click here for our study of verse 3) and even to that groups thoughts and prayers toward God (click here for our study of verse 1). Through these earlier studies, one thing has become very apparent, mindsets are important. Whether it is the mindset of the faithful child of God who is longing to speak with his Lord and has understood his difference from the world, or it is the mindset of the faithless individual who does whatever he set his mind to do regardless of the Lord's precepts.
That being said, the attitude or mindset spoken of at the beginning of verse 4 the that of the latter individual. Anger is something that is not, in and of itself, sinful for the righteous to feel. However, when anger is not controlled it can easily lead to sin! A person sees someone stealing a prized possession from him and instead of being angry with that individual in a godly manner, enacts physical harm on the person with hatred and malice. Another person gets short changed at a restaurant and instead of being angry to the point of pointing it out to the waitress and, peacefully, asking to be compensated he berates the server with hurtful words. Anger is useful, for it produces within a person a mindset to make a wrong a right but it is dangerous in that it often causes that person to go beyond what is allowed by the Father and into the realm of sin.
David pleads with the one searching for God to understand the difference and change his attitude to that of what might be called "righteous anger" instead of the easily provoked anger found running wild in our world.
Change their Affections
Next the psalmist makes a very pointed, not that the first was not, statement about the affections of those to whom he was writing. He commands them, by inspiration of course, to "meditate on" or to challenge, charge, consider or certify their actions and previous ideals. He declares that this is to be done in the heart of the individual, because it is very clear that the heart is, figuratively of course (since it is not the actual organ under consideration), the motivating factor in a person's actions and intents. So, David wants his contemporaries, and all those afar off, to think about and scrutinize how they have been living their lives.
Isn't that what we do when we go and preach Christ to the world? We beg them to think about what they are doing to themselves, because of their personal sins, their family and friends, because of their actions or reputations, and their God, because of the hurt done to God when His child rebels against Him. David wanted his friends to change their affections, leaving the loves that they once had (anything in opposition to God, v. 2) and start loving all that is godly! That is what it means to become a child of God. It's more than just a change of attitude, it's a change of affections to that which is above, namely Heaven (Colossians 3:2).
Change their Actions
Finally, David commands those searching for God to "offer the sacrifices of righteousness." While this most likely describes the sacrifices of the Old Testament done at the Temple for the sins of the person, today it has a very special meaning to us under the New Testament's direction as well. Our sacrifices, done with the correct attitude and affections, are both numerous and worth while. What a person does in accordance with his beliefs in God and His word is vital to his salvation. James 2:17 says,
"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:24
When we do this and we combine the correct attitude, affections and actions we do something magnificent. - WE PUT OUR TRUST IN THE LORD!
That's what David wanted his readers to understand. He wanted them to realize, like we studied before, that their way of doing things wasn't worth it. He wanted them to realize there was something more to this life than just pleasing ourselves. He wanted them to think about what they were doing to themselves and their God and fix it. He wanted them to join him in the congregation of people known as those who are sanctified.