Evangelizing the Opposition – Psalm 4:2-3

Psalm 4:2-3 (For the first study on Psalm 4, click here)

Septuagint Translation

2Sons of man, how long until your hearts are hardened?

            Why do you love emptiness and seek after lies?

3But know that the Lord magnifies his holy ones;

            the Lord will hear me when I cry to him.

These two verses are an appeal to honesty of worldview.  How long will the believer be mocked for his position of faith?  This is the question that David is asking.

It’s not so much the mocking that we are troubled by.  It’s the mocking from people in a position deserving to be mocked.  Those who mock Christianity either come from a foreign religion or an atheistic worldview.  What does God say about this?  David points out that their position is without merit.  “Why do you love emptiness and seek after lies?”

To the worshiper of a different god, Isaiah reveals the truth about idolatry in Isa. 44:9-20.  Psalm 115:4-8 sums that passage up, and ends with this line: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”  Paul writes in Rom. 1:25, “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!  Amen.”

To the atheist, the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good,” (Psalm 14:1).  Without God as a moral standard, the best an atheist can hope for is corruption and foolishness.

Verse two represents David seemingly making an evangelistic appeal by preaching the Law to those who oppose him in an effort to drive them to God.  David recognizes that he is being attacked for his faith by people who have abandoned God.  This is the same reason Christianity is under attack today, and the same way we as Christians should respond to attacks on our faith.

Many people mock Christians and the Bible because deep down they feel the guilt of their sin.  The reality of their condition is that they can’t measure up to God’s standards.  Rather than address that guilt, however, they choose to erase it by attempting to invalidate the Word of God.  So they mock it.  It makes them feel safe and secure.  The attacks become even worse as unbelievers see Christians who act as if they can measure up to those same standards.  This is why the Gospel must be preached right alongside the Law.

David shows his attackers not only the truth of their position (vain words and lies), but he shows them the truth of the Gospel.  “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.”  It’s not that Christians are better than others because they have succeeded in fulfilling the requirements of the Law.  It’s that God has set apart those who believe in Him.  God has done the work of redemption!

Those who trust in Jesus Christ are not godly because they’ve achieved some sort of behavioral standard.  They are godly because God Himself calls them godly.  This is the exact concept of justification. Rom.3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  Christians start with the same problem unbelievers start with: failure to live up to God’s holy requirements in His Law.  The difference is that Christians believe that Jesus Christ reconciled them to God apart from their own efforts or merit.

Jesus Christ stepped into human history and took the punishment we deserved.  Because of that, God declares those who trust in Him to be “not guilty.”  That’s exactly what justification is.  This is all God’s doing!

David adds an exclamation point to his Gospel announcement when he says, “the LORD hears when I call to him.”  This can be looked at in two ways.  First, consider the benefit of trusting in the Lord.  Not only has He secured my salvation by sending His only Son to die for my sins, but now He listens to my cries.  What an extraordinary concept to both the worshiper of false idols (who by nature are deaf and mute) and the atheist (who lives his life as a cosmic orphan).  Someone actually hears my prayers and petitions!

The second way to look at this carries the same force as a threat.  If you persist in your attacks, know that the Lord hears me when I call.  I will not and do not fear you because, “greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4).  The strength of the Gospel message is that it is God who identifies with us.  He allies Himself with us lowly sinners.  Our victory against the enemies of God is assured, not because of our own ability, but because of the presence and the promise of God in our lives.

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