32 God’s Salvation (2)

A man hunted for the perfect picture of peace. He was not satisfied with the ones that he found so he publicised a contest to produce this masterpiece. As a result, paintings came from distant places. At last, the great day of eye-opener arrived. The judges of the contest revealed one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered. The tensions reached the highest point as only two pictures remained covered. As a judge pulled the cover from one picture, silence fell over the crowd. The painting portrayed a mirror-smooth lake reflecting green birches under the evening sky. Along the green shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. People thought – surely this was the winner.

Finally, the man uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd took a deep breath in surprise. Could this be peace? A chaotic waterfall flowed down a rocky cliff; the crowd could almost experience its cold and piercing mist. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter coldness, a small tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the pouring waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Satisfied and peaceful in her stormy environment, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she revealed peace that surpassed all earthly chaos. What a picture! It’s a perfect painting to illustrate the concept of inner peace of a person.

Adapted from “A Wardrobe from the King, Berit Kjos, pp. 45-46”

Your Initial Response

What kind of difficulties are you experiencing in life? Being misunderstood? Being slandered? Being betrayed? Being inadequate? Being bombarded on all sides?

Be still and know that God is in control!

Psalm 4:1–8

1Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. 

2How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? 

3Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. 

4Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 

5Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. 

6Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. 

7Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. 

8In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:1–8 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Circle “You have given me relief when I was in distress” and “Answer me when I call.” (Psalm 4:1)

3 Circle the words that David used in praying and number them in ascending order.

4 Circle David’s knowledge about God and number them in ascending order.

5 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

David was a spiritual giant who had a profound understanding of God and we can tell by reviewing his personal prayers. By studying the words that he used in his prayer in Psalm 4, we can get to know some truths about God and attain ways to experience His attributes and power through the ministry of praying.

1 According to the poet’s reasoning, why would God listen to his prayer?

2 What is the meaning of “Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place” (Psalm 4:1, NET)?

3 What is meant by “exalted men” (Psalm 4:2, The Holman Christian Standard Bible)?

4 What does “the godly” mean (Psalm 4:3)?

5 What is the meaning of “lifting up the light of God’s face upon us” (Psalm 4:6)?

Many Bible scholars called Psalm 4 an evening hymn. As to the background of its writing, some scholars have provided the two views below: first, it was the time of Saul’s pursuit of David. Second, the background of this Psalm and Psalm 3 were the same; it was the period of Absalom’s rebellion.

As to its literary genre, it was an individual psalm of lament. As David was facing enormous difficulties, he was compelled to pour out the difficulties and challenges that he encountered to God.

Regarding to its structure, one particular scholar considered Psalm 4 had the unique design below:

A Prayer (v. 1) 
 B Call for Trust in the Lord (vv. 2-5)
A’ Prayer (vv. 6-7) 
 B’ Expression of Trust (v. 8)

Psalm 4:1

The literal translation of “the director of music” (NIV) was “the superintendent or foreman”; It means the choir-leader according to its context. “Righteous’ is God’s character, thus the Lord is the just judge. In the Hebrew language, “righteous” was a legal term; for instance, a defendant’s defense or vindication against the charges brought by one’s accuser. A literal version renders it as “O God of my righteousness” (ASV); a paraphrased version translates it as “God, who vindicates me” (Holman Christian Standard Version); and another paraphrased it as “O God who declares me innocent” (New Living Translation). The poet asked God to vindicate for him as he confidently knew he was innocent. David knew God was the Lord who was just and incorruptible and would vindicate for His servant. God gave him roomwhen David faced difficulties in the past. In the language of the Old Testament, “straits” and “narrowness” mean trouble and affliction. On the contrary, “room,” “space,” “enlargement,” mean prosperity. David has experienced God’s help in the past, and for that reason he came to God for grace and mercy once more.

Psalm 4:2

Some Bible scholars consider “men” (or “exalted men”) as men of rank, wealth and importance. For this very reason, New American Bible renders it as “Men of rank”, Knox translates it as “Great men of the world” and German Common Language Version renders it “You rich men have power”. In fact, the literal translation should be translated as “sons of men”; therefore, a scholar thought that it should be translated as “sirs.” David not only was the King of the Israelites, but he reckoned his glory was from God. Those who “love vain words” and “seek after lies” (ESV) come to mock the poet now. The two groups of words might be synonyms; specifically, they used no value, useless and worthless words to mock the poet.

Psalm 4:3-5

The godly” are loyal, devoted and pious ones. David was convinced that he was set apart by God and God would listen to his prayers. Furthermore, he reminded those who loved to mock:

1 They must understand that the poet was “the godly” separated by God (a singular noun in the original language) and God listened to his prayers (Psalm 4:3). In other words, the poet let the mockers knew that they opposed God’s servant.

2 Verse 4 could be translated as “Tremble with fear and stop sinning; think deeply about this, when you lie in silence on your beds.” (The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation) or “Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah” (Holman Christian Standard Version). By referring to the two translations above, we realised the poet’s intention of writing this psalm: first, the hearts of the mockers were filled with anger; second, they should tremble for the strong feelings of enmity in their hearts.

3 They should stop sinning continually, and especially, stop opposing God’s servant.

4 “Search your hearts” (NIV), meaning “reflect in your heart” or it could be translated as “speak to your hearts.” In simple words, they should make reflections on their works and words.

5 “Be silent” (NIV) means wailing. In other words, David reminded his enemies to wail over their past sinful acts.

6 “Offer right sacrifices” can be interpreted as “sacrifices offered in the right spirit” or “offer sacrifice in the right way.” “Offer sacrifice in the right way” not only an indication of a right relationship with God, but it was also an implication of real repentance.

7 They should “trust in the Lord”, implying these impious people should repent.

Psalm 4:6

“Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Who exactly were this group of people, David’s enemies or supporters? Bible scholars cannot determine for sure; however, what can be determined is that, David rose up and prayed for God’s grace. “Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.” A scholar considers it as an idiom, that is, “Smile upon us, Lord!” In simple terms, the poet only regarded God as the source of grace.

Psalm 4:7

“Their grain and new wine abound” is a symbol of affluence; however, the poet considered God’s blessings was far better than materialistic abundance. In other words, David thought highly of spiritual happiness, and it was much superior to materialistic comfort and pleasure.

Psalm 4:8: The poet could lie down and sleep in peace because he recognised only God was the source of peace in his life.

Conclusion

The poet not only used written language to record his feeling when he faced the mockery of his enemies, but he also reminded the evildoers should return to God as soon as possible. Facing his enemies with such an attitude was not easy!

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 The poet reminded his enemies not to sin when they were on their beds; as beds could be a symbol of privacy, thus we should be aware of our private lives.

2 As godly people, when we are entrapped in difficulties, we should pray to and depend on God with faith.

3 Memorise Psalm 4:7-8.

7You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:7-8)

4 David’s past experience compelled him to trust in God continually (Psalm 4:2), thus he could experience more of God’s care and protection. Dear believers, let us resolve to experience God more.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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