Psalm 4:4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. 5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. 6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” 7 You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. 8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
This passage begins by telling us the situation of the reader “When you are disturbed…”. In essence, the psalmist is giving counsel to persons of faith who find themselves disturbed, troubled, their backs against the wall. What are they to do?
“…ponder it on your beds, and be silent. 5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
This is a difficult word for me, I’ll admit. I’m the sort of person who is predisposed to acting rather than pondering. I’ll bet many of you are too. Perhaps we’re the product of the “get ‘er done”, “make it happen”, “don’t just stand there, do something” American culture.
Unfortunately, as Americans, we often perceive passivity as weakness.
The psalmist doesn’t see it this way at all. Why? Because he is writing from the perspective of faith – faith in the mighty God of the universe. He believes that God can do far more than he ever could, which is exactly right, of course. I wouldn’t argue this, nor would you. But still… Then there’s this little bit in the first half of verse 4:
“When you are disturbed, do not sin…”
Desperate people tend to do desperate things. Irrational things. Sinful things. The Old Testament is full of stories of God’s people, under pressure, turning to false gods, or making military alliances with the wrong people when God didn’t act quickly enough for them. It was a kind of test for the Israelites, a test they mostly failed. But not everyone. As one who placed his trust in the Lord, the psalmist writes,
“8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”
Are you under pressure this morning dear sister/brother? If so, you have LOTS of company. Including me. There are some areas of my life that are difficult right now. Let’s pray together that we might place our trust in the Lord today – and find peace in the process.
Gracious God, we admit that we sometimes handle stress poorly. We get ourselves worked up, get others worked up, and fall into destructive behaviors – the sort of behaviors that might be called “sin”. Give us grace to embrace the “peace that passes understanding”. We ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.