Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 4’

Mountain Island in mist Final

Peace © Image created by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Psalm 4:6-8 – CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF THIS?

“Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” (Psalm 4:6-7 NLT)

The everyday person today is asking the same question that is asked in this Psalm “Can anything good come out of this? We want something better than this. Who will show us better times?” We ask it of Politicians, Educators and the Social Engineers and so often the decisions they make are not satisfying and at times disturbing. It is a question born out of discouragement with what we see happening in our world. It’s not asking for the good old days. The good old days are so often fuelled by a bad memory and a good imagination. No, it’s not living in the past. It’s asking for better times, here and now, but not based on imposed popularist worldviews or socially engineered political agendas, but on something far more secure.

Someone said, “When the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, water the grass on your side.” That seems like good advice, but David’s choice for better times is not fed by comparison. David is praying that he will live in such a way as to make God smile, no matter what the grass is like on his side of the fence. Having better times independent of God’s favor is meaningless to David. Better times and indifference to God’s purposes would be absurd in his thinking.

I read an article a friend sent to me recently written by Greg Sheriton in The Australian newspaper, entitled, “Is God dead? The West has much to lose in banishing Christianity.”

He quotes George Orwell, 1944 “One cannot have any worthwhile picture of the future unless one realizes how much we have lost by the decay of Christianity.”

Sheridon says, “In abandoning God, we are about to embark on one of the most radical social experiments in Western history. It is nothing short of the reordering of human nature. Short of war, nothing is as consequential.”

JOY

Sheridon quotes A.N. Wilson The Book of the People, 2016, “Materialism, the most boring as well as the least accurate way of experiencing the world and recording experience, is the dominant mindset of the Western intelligentsia in our day.”

Things haven’t changed since the times of King David. Many people were satisfied with the joy of good harvests and plenty of livestock, but David understood that Joy is not the product of an abundant harvest. Joy is the harvest of God’s abundant favor. The wind rippling its way through a wheat field ready for harvesting does not compare to the wind of the spirit rippling with joy through the soul.

Romans 15:13 (NLT) says “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

PEACE

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8 NLT).

Surrounded by the danger of a rebel army led by his own son, Absalom, you would expect David to experience some anxiety. Yet David is obviously inwardly secure and he expresses trust in God for each day. The battle is not yet won, but spiritually David has victory.

Warren Wiersbe says, “The Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom) means much more than the absence of conflict. It carries with it the ideas of adequacy for life, confidence and fullness of life.” (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) declares in prayer, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

The invitation of Psalm 4 is to experience incredible joy and peace even in the midst of trouble. It is as if David is speaking in harmony with Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

When Nathanael heard that Jesus came from Nazareth, he asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip simply said, “Come and see for yourself” (John 1:46).

What good can come from all of this? What good can come from what this world offers? Philip invites us to find a deep and satisfying peace with God through trust in Christ instead of trusting in a Godless materialism. Come and see for yourself.

Psalm 4 reminds me of the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 (NLT) which I pass on to you today, “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.”  

Pastor Ross

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Anger © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:4-5 – EXAMINE WHAT CONTROLS YOUR LIFE

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude” (Psalm 4:4 NLT).

I wondered who David was addressing in this part of Psalm 4. Is he talking to himself, his own followers or his enemies? Is he trying to protect himself against the sin of being controlled by anger rather than, as he has said in the previous verse, be set apart as a godly man? Or is this the Lord speaking and answering David’s prayer? Then I realized that these words are relevant to all parties no matter who said them or to whom they are addressed.

Ephesians 4:21-27 (NLT) gives us similar instruction to those who believe in Christ. “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, … let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. … And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

My take on Psalm 4:4 is, “If you think you have a reason to be angry, don’t let that anger make you think you have a right to act independently of God. Consider this deeply before taking any action. Sleep on it rather than do something you’ll regret.” The idea is the intention for reflection which leads to repentance.

Psalm 4:4 gives me a choice to examine myself. I can make choices that can change the way I respond to life’s circumstances. I don’t have to be controlled by my emotions. I can, as Psalm 4:5 (NLT) says, “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:12 speaks about Absalom offering sacrifices to impress people. When religious rituals become an excuse for power-plays then it has nothing to do with trusting in God and it is hypocritical. Religious rituals and laws are never enough to replace the right spirit and relationship of dependence to God.

Psalm 4:4-5 invites me to a life of integrity and trust in Christ. He became a sacrifice for sin once and for all and trusting in Him alone brings forgiveness and a right spirit. I am not to live a life controlled by my emotions, but as Romans 12:3 (NLT) says, “… let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Pastor Ross

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Chosen © by Ross Cochrane using Blender

Psalm 4:3 – CALLING VS SELF-ESTEEM

“You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. The Lord will answer when I call to Him.” (Psalm 4:3 NLT)

BE CONFIDENT OF YOUR CALLING AND AUTHORITY

Confident of his calling as King, assured that he is innocent of the charges against him, certain that he is set apart for God’s purposes, David declares that the Lord will answer him.

David isn’t a product of the Self-Esteem Movement, trying to prop himself up with undue praise, while pandering to his egotism with self-talk. This is a confidence born from his calling, despite his brokenness.

Kingship isn’t a trophy handed out to everyone like a “You are special” ribbon in the team just so we can feel better about ourselves. It is a responsibility demanding submission to God and the careful application of His wisdom in order to represent His authority over His people.

Why am I making a distinction about confidence in God’s Calling and Self-Esteem?

When rigorous studies were finally conducted and evaluated on Self-Esteem some years ago by Roy Baumeister, a Professor of Social Psychology at Florida State University, after the all-pervasive social program in Self-Esteem had already infiltrated every aspect of education, they suggested that young people with very high self-esteem are more likely than others to hold racist attitudes, reject social pressures from adults and peers and engage in physically risky or even unlawful pursuits. This was not at all what was expected.

It was discovered that Low self-esteem could actually be a motivating influence towards achievement while high self-esteem could lead to arrogant, conceited, self-satisfied behavior. It was too late. The Self-Esteem Movement probably thought his research was Hate Speech and thus it has been largely ignored.

King David knows the inward reality of his calling that does not require a feel-good pat on the back by his parents, educators, coaches or psychiatrists to build up a sense of Self Esteem from a social engineering endeavor.

In all their blustering bravado and outward self-esteem, the opposing army has only caused God, unlike the teachers of the Self-Esteem Movement, to use a red pencil to circle their evil schemes and call them to repent, not hand them a ribbon of encouragement to help them feel better about ignoring their blatant failures.

David invites me to re-examine the certainty of my relationship with God and be able to declare to those who oppose the principles and values of the Word of God, “I am confident in Christ who has called me to represent Him and His purposes on the earth?”

Such confidence is birthed from a desire to discover and submit to His Holy Spirit, His will, His ways, His word, His purposes, His calling, His correction and His direction for our lives. Esteem for God. Confidence in God. God loves, calls and empowers broken people.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (NLT) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil”

Ephesians 4:1 invites you who have believed in Christ, who died for your sins, to “… lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”

Pastor Ross

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Dispatch bag – adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:2 – I ADVISE YOUR UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER

The High Commander dictated the letter for immediate despatch. Not wanting to be misunderstood, his words were measured and strong.

To The Commanding General of the Opposing Army

Based on the spirit of grace, I have the authority to present this note to you advising you to surrender unconditionally.

My concern is for your Army, which now stands isolated from any reinforcements, and remains therefore unaided.

You have many fierce and gallant men and officers; all fine warriors in their own right. It would be of no benefit to continue plying them with false hopes of victory or seeking to undermine our reputation as a worthy enemy. How long can you continue?

The implementation of our strategies in this war has already sealed the fate of your forces, and a continuation of hostilities would only serve to decimate your Army.

I expect that you, accepting my advice, will give up this meaningless and desperate attempt to gain victory and promptly order the entire front to cease hostilities.

If on the contrary you should reject my advice and present an escalation of hostilities I shall be obliged, though reluctantly, to order my army to attack and defeat your forces with no quarter given.

Expecting your reply within the hour

Signing and sealing the letter, he placed it carefully in a leather dispatch bag and after signaling for safe passage for the messenger across enemy lines, it was transported to the general of the opposing forces.

The purpose of a letter of surrender?

TO OFFER TIME TO RECONSIDER

Obviously, David has enemies. His own son, Absalom, has turned once trusted associates against him. This is a time of rebellion against him and against God.

This Psalm could virtually be used as a message to the opposing army advising them to reconsider the serious nature of what they were doing. David is giving Absalom and his henchmen time to reassess their position and repent.

“How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” (Psalm 4:2 NLT)

When first I read this verse from Psalm 4:2, I wondered who was speaking. Was it David or God? As God declares David innocent (Psalm 4:1), David declares his opposition guilty.

It seems David and God speak in unison.

Reading the newspaper today reminds me that there are many in the world who oppose Biblical standards and the values of Jesus. I find myself asking, “Do I have a reputation for being someone who honors God and His Word? Is it confronting to those in this generation, enough for them to pay attention? Does what I stand for matter to anyone particularly? Does the impact of my reputation and influence make a difference in the world?”

The Answer is “Yes”. Imperceptible in the scheme of things, maybe. It may not survive to be written in books or make front-page news, perhaps. But it makes a difference because it reflects God’s purposes. It is stamped with God’s character in light, and so it will only add to the godly glow of generations of believers gone before and hopefully provide a well-lit path for those to come.

It occurs to me that David mirrors the sentiments of his descendant, Jesus. Such words could easily have been spoken to the religious leaders; the High Priest or the Sanhedrin. How long do you think you will be able to continue with such wickedness?

And I believe God is asking this question to this generation; to those who don’t follow Christ, but unfortunately also to many who do. How long will you continue …?

It continues to amaze me how many people who claim to be followers of Christ are willing to abandon or ignore Biblical principles and values. God is asking educators and politicians and religious leaders who inflict their distorted values upon others .., “How long will you people ruin My reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies?”

I find myself translating David’s words into our culture. David writes words to his own son and to any who are willing to ask, “How long will I continue to speak with amoral deceitfulness, an anesthetized conscience, and ill-considered agendas? How long will I continue to destroy the reputation of those who seek the absolutes of God’s Word with my ridicule, accusations, and lies? How long will I continue to be unwilling to reconsider what I am doing and look beyond my own selfish ambitions and schemes?”

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT) speaks of those who have tasted the goodness of Christ but in the end have denied him authority in their lives and … “by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing Him to the cross once again and holding Him up to public shame.” How long?

After opening the dispatch and reading the letter, the Commanding General breathed a sigh of relief and wrote back …

To the High Commander

Having reconsidered my position and the precarious nature of my circumstances, I am proposing the capitulation and submission of my forces. I am willing to enter into terms of unconditional surrender if such can still be attained.

I thankyou for the grace with which you have offered this course of action to me. I propose an immediate cessation of hostilities for the purpose of discussing how best to proceed.

Signed by the Commanding General

Christ has written a letter asking for unconditional surrender. The question remains, “How long?” How long will it take for a world gone crazy to respond to His gracious invitation, to reconsider their precarious position and surrender their lives to Christ?

How long will it take for you to accept such an invitation, to acknowledge and build your life on the Way, the Truth and the Life and the absolutes of His Word?

Pastor Ross