Most often though, we see random verses from all of the Psalms, frequently pulled out by people, pastors, websites, and books, which refer to life, emotions, strength, and how much God loves us. But when read all together, in sequence, that is when you really see the significance of them as they apply to our walk with Christ.
So over the next few days, I want to camp out in Psalms for a little while.
Today lets focus on Psalm 4, which begins by David saying this in verse 1:
“Answer me when I call to you,O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” (NLT)
At first glance of this verse, I thought to myself, “how can David be calling himself innocent? Is he not a sinner, like the rest of us? Does he see himself as without fault?” Or maybe, David just has a superior opinion of himself because he knows he is Gods chosen one.
As I stared at the word “innocent”, I initially thought this verse could not apply to me, because if there is one thing I am NOT – its innocent. Innocent means “free from moral wrong; without sin; pure” – nope, that is certainly not an adjective that God (or anyone for that matter) would use to describe me.
When considering that word, my mind began to drift to the sea of mistakes I had made in my life, to all the sins I had committed either intentionally or unintentionally, to the sins of the day, from attitudes, to words, to thoughts and actions. I began to focus on all the things that I wish I could change about myself, and all the the sins that I wish I could delete from memory.
But as I read over this verse again, and continued reading this passage, I began to see that David was not really thinking he was innocent. Instead, he was acknowledging that God made him innocent. David recognized that although he was a great sinner, that God adored him anyway, and as a result of this forgiveness of sin, GOD made him pure, and innocent.
For a different perspective, lets look how the NIV Bible phrases Psalm 4:1:
“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”
And lastly, The Message Bible says it this way:
“When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, you gave me room; Now I’m in trouble again: grace me! hear me!”
These versions portray that in addition to being innocent as a result of forgiveness, that God has made us righteous, which means “morally upright; without guilt or sin”; and that God is on our side.
One verse, two short sentences tell us of Gods forgiveness; His purification of our souls; His acceptance of us even though we are broken and flawed; His desire to be for us, and on our side. We are told of Gods immense, unconditional, unending love for us, even though we are far from innocent.
David understood this type of love, and as a result, his thoughts were guided by God, and not by his enemies. Even though he could have focused on many negative things he felt about himself, instead, he chose to focus on His identity in God eyes.
Psalm 4:3 says “You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.” (NLT)
Davids confidence came from Gods perspective, not his own opinion of himself. He was confident that God knew him, and he knew God, and as a result, he had a strong enough relationship with God to know that he was set apart, he was special, that God heard his prayers and would respond to him, and even that he was innocent, as a result of being washed clean through Gods mercy and forgiveness.
The Message Bible says Psalm 4:3 this way, “Look at this: look who got picked by God! He listens the split second I call to him.”
I love the way that verse is worded there. David is like “look how special I am! God picked me and loves me! He loves me even though I am so unworthy! And because He loves me, He will hear me.”
You and I have been picked too. By a God who sees all. By a God who loves us anyway.
Psalm 4:8 says “In peace I will lie down and sleep,for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”
Davids life was not peaceful, he had enemies on every side, threats on his life, meager living standards, losses, hurts, failures, blood on his hands – but he knew that since God saw him as righteous and godly, that since he was set apart, chosen by a holy God because of his great love for Him , that He could have peace. That he could rest, despite his circumstances, because God was watching over him.
Maybe today you are going something really difficult. Maybe you feel like those circumstances in your life are your fault, or that you contributed to those problems you are now facing, and as a result, you are unlovable by God. Maybe trying to see yourself as innocent, righteous, or picked by God, is the farthest thing from you mind, and a concept that your heart cannot grasp.
If so, then take a moment to pray over these few verses in Psalms today, asking God to reassure you of His love in some special way; to remind you through people, circumstances, or scripture, of how He has made you clean and sees you as godly and righteous, despite your mistakes; to help you see who you are in Him, and not who you see in the mirror or who others say you are.
I pray God speaks to your heart today, and reminds you that He has hand picked you, chosen you, selected you as the cream of the crop, and that He will never leave those He loves, who continue to love Him in return.
Peace may seem like a mere memory, or a feeling that you wonder if you can ever feel again, but peace and rest is available in God, and if we trust Him, he will keep us safe until we are out of harms way.