I have called this psalm "A Prayer for Coming to God's House" because of verse 7: "But I, by your great mercy will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple." But we must not think of it as restricted to a formal worship setting. It is actually a generic prayer showing how we must approach God, if we would be heard by him, and what we can expect of him when we do.
Were David's enemies likely to follow his advice, tremble before God, offer sacrifices for their sin and begin to trust the Almighty? It was not very likely! It is not even likely that David spoke these words to them. They are part of the psalm, words that David spoke to God and would have liked to have spoken to his enemies but probably did not have the chance to utter. But here is the important thing: although his enemies did not come to trust God, David did. He had trusted God in the past. He had laid his grief over the false accusations of his enemies before him. Now God provided the peace he was seeking. There were three things God provided.
The most interesting part of this psalm is the second section (vv. 2-5) in which David relates to those who are harming him. They are wrong. He is right. He is asking God to help him. Nevertheless, although slandered and injured by them, David speaks of his enemies kindly and tries to win them from their errors. And there is this: in trying to help them, he unintentionally but inevitably helps himself.
Who do you turn to when you hear of an unjust accusation that someone has been making against you? Suppose you are at work and the secretary down the hall stops by your desk and says, "Do you know what so-and-so said about you yesterday?" Then she pours out the story, perhaps even embellishing it a little. Or maybe a business associate circulates a memo in which you are pictured in an unjust light. What do you do? Who do you tell? Most of us would go to our friends and complain, looking for sympathy. We might even start a slander campaign of our own. It might go: "Well, the only reason she said that is because she…" This is not what David did. Instead of turning to friends for sympathy or even attacking his enemies, David turned to God.
ls there such a thing as a totally righteous sufferer? Is anyone ever really innocent? The answer is: of course not, unless we are thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the way some of the interpreters of Psalm 4 have taken it. But that is not the point here. None of us is ever utterly innocent, but there are nevertheless times of relative innocence in which evil people really do heap injustices on us.
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