In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
In the midst of the chaos of this world, there are so many reminders in Scripture that help us not to succumb to the fear and distractions we face. I’ve been reminded of those promises as I’ve been reading various chapters of the Psalms. Moving forward in my yearly Bible plan, I have the next couple of months (August and September) to tackle the whole 150 chapters in Psalms. There is so much there and each time I go through the book, I find more that I missed the last time. I love it. And I am sure you do as well!
In Psalm 4 there is a contrast between the wicked and the righteous. As so often is the case, David takes a moment to lay out the differences. His heart is ached by the world around him. He sees evildoers and bemoans their ways: “How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” (vs. 2) But he also realizes one key point: it’s not up to him to make things right: God will have the final word. His charge and duty? “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” (vs. 4) Amazing! How often do I consider this perspective? How often do I wrestle in vain against the forces of darkness when that battle is the Lord’s?
I titled this blog “Sleeping Well In The Fire” because I believe that is David’s goal here. He wants us to rest well and cast our burdens upon the Lord. He wants us to know God has set us apart for His plans and purposes. He wants us to trust God; not to whine and complain before Him. The world rages around us (read more on this from a blog from earlier this year: A World On Fire). We are called to not get so caught up in the world that our own state of well-being and rest in Christ is hindered. We must continually look to the Word and be connected to our Savior and allow His peace to sustain us. With these short 8 verses of Psalm 4 as our backdrop, let’s dig in for a few key takeaways today!
1. God hears our prayer
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1
Right off the bat, David goes straight to the throne room. He appeals to God’s own character and nature — what He has done in the past. His nature is righteous. David was given relief before when it was needed. He is in need again and asks for God to hear him. No doubt David knows God’s provision. Whether facing a lion or a giant, he has been delivered. When facing the fierce opposition of man (King Saul), he has been spared. He knows God watches over him, sustains him, and keeps him. This steady confidence in his God assumes that no matter what life brings, it will not be too big for the Lord.
As I have shared a single blog each month this year, I’ve felt this theme over and over again — if not overtly stated, then at least in the background of each message. Times are tough. We know they are bad and getting worse. But has God left us or abandoned us? Can we honestly look back at our lives and see a time in which He did not come through? I can’t in my own life. I know His plans are for good. Things may not look exactly how we might expect them to, but He wants us to trust Him.
2. God sets us apart for Himself
But I know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. Psalm 4:3
Oh how I love this! If we read the whole chapter, David has just mentioned those who shame him. Those who don’t seek truth, but lies (vs. 2). He’s building that contrast: righteous vs. unrighteous. And he’s clearly defining what camp he is in: he is one of the godly ones. One of those whom the Lord has “set apart” for Himself. Set apart. Consider that. Ponder that. He watches over you and answers you when you call. He has you in His hand and you are literally put aside from the rest of the world because of your belief in Him.
That truth has been a lightbulb moment for me as of late. To be honest, I wrestle with the evil stuff today. The perpetual sickness and nonsense that goes on and grows daily only serves to trouble my spirit. But sometimes I allow that to steal my joy and hope as well. And where Satan cannot tempt us, he discourages us and depresses us instead. He gets us to even see the sin in this world as too big and hopeless to fight against. But we don’t have to — Christ already won at the cross. And better yet, we are set apart for Him if we have believed in Him. That gives me a peace that nothing else in this world can come close to.
3. God grants peace, joy, and safety
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7
These last few verses of the chapter are the clincher for me. They are what help me “sleep well in the fire.” You see, David realizes many whine to the Lord and ask “Who will show us some good?” (vs. 6) They are asking for God to show His face as if that proves He is still there and will act. David doesn’t need that. He knows God will grant him joy. He turns and see those around him look to other sources of fulfillment — food and drink (i.e. drunkenness and gluttony). His joy is greater than any fleeting joy they may find.
To go further, David experiences peace and dwells in safety. He’s not worried about what man can do to him. Not worried about tomorrow. Just resting in the assurance that God is near and will not leave him (he is set apart after all). This attitude, this mindset…it changes everything if we start to grasp it. Literally everything. We so often miss it because we want to figure out how to find joy and peace apart from Him. But we won’t. Our strivings will be in vain.
In closing today, I wonder how many Christians have been guilty of complaining and saying “Where is the Lord?” “Is He is still here?” “Should we just move on without Him?” Certainly that is a temptation we can face. But some have gone on in their own strength and power and have abandoned a simple faith in Jesus Christ. And the rest, joy, and peace they should know has been traded for fear, worry, anxiety, and doubt. Brothers and sisters, this is not how we are to live. Jesus says “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Are you able to sleep well in the fire that burns around you? Are you able to walk with quiet confidence in your God, knowing He holds the future and the battle belongs to Him? If that is a struggle, consider what you are inputting into your mind. Does the Word mark your life? Does prayer and time away with Him undergird your days and weeks? If not, the fire will wear on you. It will smother you. A steady input of truth must mark our lives. It keeps us not just surviving these times but thriving in them!
I’d love to pray for you and discuss this further. My email and contact info is listed below. As always, I love you guys and love walking this journey with you. I pray you experience the fullness of His peace and rest today.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17