On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most possible, where would you put yourself on the “being at peace” scale? This Psalm, once again a lament and a cry for help, begins with a cry to the Lord for Him to “answer me when I call!” It isn’t a request, it is a demand, a command. God, answer me when I call, is a prayer that we should never feel afraid or ashamed to pray. There is nothing more that I could desire than to hear God’s answer to my prayer. Psalm 4 is once again a prayer which is then set to music and should be played by stringed instruments, I guess they mean the acoustic or electric guitar. No, I’m guessing it was meant to be played with the harp.
There has been for generations now the long standing debate between contemporary and traditional worship services, and to be honest, most of it comes down to the music. I’ll never forget when we were looking for a music director in Florida and I had a musician call me and ask the following question (it was actually more of a statement): “I won’t be required to play what you call contemporary music, will I? I fully believe that it is of the devil.” Needless to say that person was discouraged from applying. Is there any stronger way to express our thoughts and feelings to our Savior than in music? Can anyone sing How Great Thou Art without a tear coming to our eye?
But so many of the contemporary songs have as their settings these psalms which are repeated in a unified chorus. It is actually very reformed and Presbyterian to read or sing psalms during the service. See, we didn’t even know that at the second service we are actually following a long standing Presbyterian tradition of saying or singing the psalms. Did you also notice that all of my call to worships at the first service are psalms in sequential order? There is a lot in the psalms that drive us to a deeper understanding of our God. Psalm 4 is a great example of that. Let’s actually work through it.
It begins with a call to be heard, a call that I mentioned earlier we do not need to shy away from. But he quickly transitions from calling to the Lord to castigating the people for not seeking after the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul. He then gives us advice on how to seek after the Lord. When we are upset or angry it is always better to not sin but rather to be silent and think about it on our beds, in the safety of our homes. This is a very direct counsel to not be reactionary to any situation which we may face, but rather to allow ourselves the time and the composure to address issues within a perspective of time. When we react to a situation we tend to sin when we do. Think about that next time a driver cuts you off on route 30.
But time has become so collapsed that it is hard to imagine how we can live our lives without reacting immediately to issues that come before us. We receive text messages and people are upset if we don’t respond within a few minutes. We receive emails and people are upset if we don’t respond in a few hours. We receive phone calls and we are expected to not only pick up but to return the call immediately. The time that we have today to process information has been condensed which almost demands reactionary responses from us. So for us today here is what I would say: If we see a message on facebook and we don’t know what to say or do then allow a day to pass before you answer. If you receive a text that upsets you don’t fire off a text…allow some time to pass, you may not even need to respond. If you receive a long email that demands that you answer, let it go and maybe ask the person out for coffee where you can talk face to face. I love being connected, but love less the demand that we feel to answer immediately. I tend to try to buck that trend by answering after prayer and consideration and normally it is a phone call.
This might be a key to having the peace that is described in vs.8. People like to put demands on our lives. Listen to the pastor who is infamous of asking people to help and volunteering them to do certain things. It is true, though. The demands that people put on us should never weigh us down. If they do, then we have to say no, even to that pastor who asks you to lead a program which just might expand the ministry in leaps and bounds. Sorry, my family comes first. It is only being enfolded in the arms of the Lord where we are going to be able to discern how demands will affect our lives. We lie down in safety because our priorities are in the right place and we won’t be in danger of putting others before our families or whatever is first in your life aside from Jesus.