Today’s post is from LifeWay’s Let’s Worship magazine and guest writer, Trent C. Butler. Find out more about guest writing.
Answer me when I call,
God, who vindicates me.
You freed me from aﬄiction;
be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted?
[How long] will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie?
Know that the LORD has set apart
the faithful for Himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to Him.
Be angry and do not sin;
on your bed, reﬂect in your heart and be still.
Oﬀer sacriﬁces in righteousness
and trust in the LORD.
Many are saying, “Who can show us
Look on us with favor, LORD.
You have put more joy in my heart than they
have when their grain and new wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, LORD, make me live in safety.
— Psalm 4:1-8
You may worship by doing nothing. Psalm 4 teaches us that. The psalmist laments because God seems to be doing nothing. With great religious indignation the poet demands an answer from God. He wants God to be consistent. In the past God “vindicated me” (literally “was my righteousness” or “righteous one”). God answered and delivered in the past. Why not now? God has deﬁned Himself as showing favor and grace to His people (see Ex. 33:19; compare 2 Kings 13:23). He revealed that grace to me in previous situations. Why doesn’t that same grace and favor appear in my present desperation? I join Daniel (9:18) in praying, “We are not presenting our petitions before You on the ground of our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion.” I need to do more than talk about Your grace. I need to see Your kindness and Your generosity in action.
The situation goes beyond the apparent broken relationship with God. Exalted men (literally, “sons of man”) have disgraced my glory (or honor). Instead of caring for me, they love what is worthless or empty. They seek after what is false or a lie. I stand without any person or God to help. What can I do? I can remember the nature of God and His actions. God separates the chasid, the one who is faithful to God and practices grace and mercy among humanity. That ensures me that God will answer me. But when? Watch out! This crying for help is getting to me. I am becoming more and more emotional. I am trembling (rather than HCSB’s being angry) and trembling, increasing by the moment. What can I do? I do not want to blaspheme God or lash out at other people. I do not want to sin in any way against God or fellow human beings. I have reason to be emotionally shaken in such a horrid situation. What can I do?
When I get up in the morning, I can go to more formal worship. I can go to the house of God and give my tithes and oﬀerings. I can show God that I am being true and faithful to Him in every way I know. Most important, I will let God have the whole situation. I will trust God with my desperation. In my silence and inactivity, perhaps God will choose to do something to deliver me. My silent trust may allow God to speak and me to listen to His voice. I am not alone. Others join me in this despicable condition. They are seeing everything as black and evil. No light, no good. No hope. Just the absence of God and the presence of evil! Oh, what can we do? One last plea, God. Do not look away from us any longer. Lift up the light of Your face on us (literal Hebrew). Yes, the silent time with You on my bed has expanded my horizons. I no longer pray just for You to answer me. I want You to reveal Yourself to all of us in this situation. Not just answer me when I call, but let all of us who are walking in darkness see the light of Your face.
Thank You, Lord. I knew You would come through. My heart is experiencing more joy and gratitude than at any time in life, even more than when we harvest our grain and grapes. We party and celebrate then, but that pales in comparison to the celebration we need to do now. You have answered me. You have shown the light of Your face to the people. SO NOW IT IS BACK TO BED. No more sobbing. No more fretting. No more emotional trembles. I am safe and secure in my own bed. And it all started when I decided to be still and in the silence to know You and listen for Your voice and watch for Your face. Yes, my silent trust gave You more worship than most of the elaborate services we participate in at the house of God. O Lord, shut my mouth and teach me to worship.