1. The richness of God’s word is how it speaks to us differently at different times. We can read same passage many times and yet be enlightened by it as if never read before. This happened to me as I read today’s passage, especially one verse..
Psa 4:7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
2. Today we listen to King David call out to God during one of the most distressing times of his life. We will see how, despite his situation, he can declare that his heart is filled with joy.
3. As we look at how David can have this joy, may each one of us be able to share in this joy regardless of the circumstances we may be facing in our lives.
1. David calls out to God to help him and to relieve him from his distress. David was the king of Israel, but he was not in Jerusalem. He was on the run, having left Jerusalem with his men for fear of losong his life. What made things worse was who he was running from. David was being threatened and pursued by his own son, Absalom.
2. Absalom had become very angry when his sister, Tamar had been raped by his half-brother Ammon. And when his father failed to do anything about it, Absalom took matters in his own hand. He had Ammon killed.
3. And as time went on, he intentionally won the hearts of many of the people. They proclaimed him king at Hebron. When it appeared that he might defeat David’s army, David left Jerusalem. The situation did not seem very hopeful and so David calls out to God.
4. In verse one we see that he bases his prayer on three things.
a. First he says that God is the God of His righteousness (literal Hebrew). God is the possessor of righteousness (of that which is right), the author of righteousness and the vindicator of misjudged or persecuted righteousness. Whatever righteousness David possesses, he possesses in God. Whatever righteous or right he is looking for, he looks for in God. Whenever it seems that injustice or unrighteous acts are upon us, we can turn to God. He will do what is right.
And even if it seems otherwise, He is righteous and we can trust that His assessment of our situation is more correct than how we view the situation. We can place our trust in our righteous God. He will work things out for our good.
b. Secondly, David bases his prayer on his experience with God in the past. Our Bible says "give me relief from my distress." Many translate this passage in the past tense. "You have enlarged me when I was in distress."
The idea here is of an army that is being pressed in on all sides by a surrounding enemy. God has broken down the barriers, freed them and placed them in a wide, open space. In the same way, we could say that God has enlarged our hearts with joy and comfort when we felt imprisoned by grief and sorrow.
We call on God because He has rescued us in the past. O God, our help in ages past. Think of times of distress or darkness in your life. Was God there? Did He carry you through these valleys? Did He enlarged that constricted, hurting heart with joy or comfort? Because he has helped us in the past, we know we can call on Him today.
c. The third reason we can call on God is because He is merciful and hears our prayers. The situation David found himself was largely his on fault. He had failed to confront his sons and deal properly with the situation. He was not saying "Lord, I have done no wrong and they are all bad." He relied on the righteousness of God and not on His own.
If he had any claim it was because God had chosen him. Not his own goodness. Sometimes we may want to call out to God for help. But we know we have gotten ourselves into the mess we are in. And so we feel we have no right to cry out to God for help. Maybe so, but we can still call upon God. "Lord, I have done wrong, it’s my fault. But Lord, I need your mercy. I don’t deserve it but you are a merciful God and without your mercy I am lost."
In another reading, I was amazed at God’s mercy with Lot. Lot had gotten himself into a mess by deciding to live in Sodom. God sent angels to rescue him before Sodom would be destroyed. Lot hesitated, not sure if he wanted to leave the city. But the angels pulled him out, we could say dragged him out to safety.