Thursday, September 29, 2016

Psalm 4: A Meditation for These Times

photo credit: Betsy Barber

It is not a restful time in our country, or in history.

And, perhaps, if the truth were fully known, fully acknowledged, there has never really been a restful time in any country or at any point in history. As I read Psalm 4, the psalmist’s rhetorical demand sounds painfully familiar:

“O men…how long will you love vain words and seek after lies?”

Vain words and lies…sounds like what I read every time I turn to the internet.

I’m so grateful for this psalm, though, because it models what a godly heart does after beholding shame, injustice, and wrong in the world:

“Be angry, and do not sin;
Ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent
…and put your trust in the Lord.”

This is where good is to be found: in silence, in the quiet peace of the evening, when you close your eyes and your mouth, and you commune with your own heart, in the presence of the Lord. And though, as the psalmist points out,

“Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’"

There is only one demand that will actually bring the good before our eyes:

"Lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, oh God.”

Yes! This! Of COURSE no one else is going to show us any good! Why are we looking to the world and its troubles anyway? Look to the Lord...

This is the psalmist, talking to his own soul, and reminding himself to take the time to just shut up and meditate on the Lord's goodness.

And after that communing with his own soul, in his own heart, reminding himself of the Lord’s great works, here is the conclusion he comes to:

“You have put more joy in my heart
Than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

I love that God gave us this picture in the scriptures: this intimate picture of both of what godly agitation looks like (”Help, Lord! Look at what’s happening!”) and also what godly meditation and self-calming and recollection looks like (”ponder in your own hearts on your own beds, and be silent”).

It’s a pattern that shows up over and over again in the Psalms (see Psalm 11, for another good example), and it’s such a gift.

“Be angry…but sin not.”

It’s good just to know that that’s possible…and also good to know that we can turn from anger, and over to peace and to praise.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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