Psalm 4, has Good News for all of us and the trials we face in our lives. Today, we are troubled about many things, but God ‘puts gladness in our hearts.’ This passage offers us wisdom and imparts faith. But on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, it has a special job to do.
Psalm 4 deals with unbelief: outside the church and inside the church. At Easter time, the words “Christ is Risen!” are answered with “Alleluia, he is risen indeed.” But unspoken responses might include: “I doubt it;” or “Oh really?” or “I wish I believed that;” or even “You’ve got to be kidding.” Sometimes we wonder if Easter is too good to be true. But God has heard all this before.
In this Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells his doubting, frightened disciples, “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). Likewise, Psalm 4 offers peace to trust for doubting minds and troubled hearts. Some people receive the message with joy. Others are skeptical or fearful, and still others reject the message out of hand.
As we think about problem of unbelief within the inner circle of Jesus, the disciples have just heard two of their own members say that Jesus is risen, yet they are “startled and terrified” and “doubts arise in their hearts” when Jesus appears (Luke 24:37-38). Even some of the disciples find it hard to believe, yet Jesus offers peace.
Psalm 4 begins with a prayer for help. “Answer me when I call, O God…” (4:1), in this Easter context of faith and doubt, and hoping against hope. It ends with a statement of faith. “You have put gladness in my heart…You alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety” (4:7-8). This passage helps us understand our beginning and our ending is with God.
To the unbelievers: (4:2) “How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” But Peter calls these people “friends,” so that they might listen to his proclamation. Psalm 4 is a good vessel for this proclamation for the fact that Easter means that God sets us free from the fear of death. God lifts us out of a tight spot. What could be tighter than the grave! To the unbelievers (and we all have our moments), God gives us opportunity to rise from the grave of unbelief, opportunity to gain faith or increase our faith.
“When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent.” The fear of our own death or the death of loved ones, is enough to keep anyone awake at night and we are tempted to find relief wherever we can. But the Psalmist guides us to pray and trust in God. For believers, who believe but have trouble trusting, This Psalm ends with these words: “I will both lie down and sleep in peace” (4:8).
For those who might wonder if God has done anything good for you lately: (4:6) the Psalm tells us that God’s life giving power is our true wealth. It’s Easter, but there are so many things happening, a global Pandemic, insurrection at our Nation’s Capitol, racial tensions, police brutality, mass murders, may leave some of thinking, “Okay, so Jesus rose from the dead, but what about all the issues we face. Perhaps this may be irreverent talk, but it gets at the issue of where we put our trust. In verse 7, it says that God’s presence puts gladness in our hearts .“ God’s endless, power, love , grace, forgiveness, and mercy is all we need.
The Psalm ends on a note of peace and confidence. “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety” (4:8).
Join us online Sunday morning as we further explore Psalms 4:1-8.
“I don’t know how, but I know WHO!
Grace and Peace, Pastor Nelda
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