Last week’s study revolved around the word of God, because it is the basis and source for all righteousness. Without it there is no ability for mankind to be pleasing to God (cf. Romans 1). I find it interesting that God has chosen to speak to His creation through the written word today (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17) instead of speaking to us individually. I wonder if the reason for such is His foresight into what our world would become 2,000 years after Christ, a world in which post-modernism and relativism are rampant. I’m not so sure why He chose to do away with the avenue of revelation by which He spoke to mankind throughout the ages, but I know He did. That being said, I’m so happy that He has continued to allow us to speak to Him through prayer! The first and last part of this psalm give an insight into the mind of the person seeking to speak to his God and put his petitions before the Almighty.
In it I notice a deep longing for David to have the ear of God. I know that all of the prayers of human beings reach the ears of God whether the person is righteous or unrighteous (cf. Acts 10:4, 1 John 1:9), but it’s different to have His attention. I like to think of God’s “prayer-box” much like an email inbox with all of the prayers of the individuals the world over chiming in every second of the day and while the Lord will read those messages He is not obligated to respond. But the prayer of the righteous man, the one portrayed in the first verse of Psalm 4 is flagged “important” and the Lord will make sure to read and respond to that email as soon as He, the all-knowing deity that He is, sees fit.
In this section of Scripture is found the earnestness that ought to be prevalent in every prayer that we offer up to God! David is pleading with the Father to understand his position, even though He already does, to “have mercy” (or provide a way of escape) on him and to mark his request as urgent in his “prayer-box”. Maybe there’s not as much there as I am placing, but should every prayer consist of these things? I’m afraid that sometimes when I pray I do quickly and what may amount to meaninglessly because I do not have the correct mindset needed to approach the throne of the Creator in prayer.
Although the psalmist seems to be in deep distress during this entire psalm, there is a wonderful sense of pleasure in the first verse.
First, he declares his knowledge that God is the source for his ability to perform righteous acts in this life, “O God of my righteousness!” This is missed by many people today. In our culture of self gratification and “picking oneself up by the boot straps” we tend to forget that the good works we do, while done of our of volition and planning often, are done because of two things. 1) God granted us the time on this earth and the ability to complete that task, using His providence throughout. 2) If it was a good work, the command came from God. He might have left the way by which to do it up to us, but the idea came from Him.
Second, notice the first phrase of the second sentence – “You have relieved me in my distress…” I wonder what distress David was speaking of when he penned these words? It doesn’t really matter though because everyone that is a member of the body of Christ has been relieved in one time of distress, the time we realized that we were without salvation from our sins. God relieves us in a number of ways and in a number of situations, but the one we all have in common is when we approached Him for salvation through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). It is through that obedience that God gave us the most marvelous gift anyone has ever received, the ability to say, “I am saved, I am a child of God and I am special!”