A Bright & Shiny Joy – Psalm 4:6-7

Psalm 4:6-7 (for the first three installments of this study on Psalm 4, click here, here, and here.)

Septuagint Translation

6Many are saying, “Who will show us something good?

            Mark us with the light of your face, Lord.”

7You give joy to my heart

            apart from when their grain, wine, and olive oil were multiplied.

David recognizes the life pursuit of many people: “Who will show us something good?”  This is the case for both unbelievers and for believers.  In this case, what they consider as good marks the difference between the two.

For the unbeliever, the search for good begins and ends with the material, the “grain and wine” (and in the case of the LXX, the olive oil) of life.  These can be used to represent financial and social security (as in Luke 12:16-21) or pleasure (as in Ps. 104:14-15).  While these may provide temporary goodness, they completely fail to provide lasting satisfaction.

In Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, Solomon discovered the end of pleasure and possessions.  Verse 11 says, “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

Why the futility?  The lack of an eternal perspective on life.  Jesus teaches about this in Matt. 6:19-21.  And to answer the question, “Who will show us something good?” in another way, the Bible warns in Ps. 146:3-4 not to invest too much in our relationships with people either.  This is also due to the inability people have to provide us with answers for eternity.

The contrast for the believer is stark.  The entire focus is on a relationship with God, which is more valuable than material possessions, as verse seven says.

There is an amazing amount of depth in the phrase, “Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”  First, this brings to mind the well known Aaronic Blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.  But there is also fulfillment for this verse in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as God incarnate, really did let the light of God’s face shine one us.  He literally graced us with the presence of the Lord.  In John 1:1, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Skipping down to verse 14, it says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (emphasis mine).  That is the historical light of the Lord’s face shining on us!

Through the historical presence of Jesus Christ in space and time, God provided humanity with the greatest good: redemption.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we receive eternal life as God’s free gift to us (Rom.6:23).  Thus, the good we receive from God transcends the material blessings this world can provide us with.

Just as verse seven says, the Gospel news of forgiveness of sins because of Jesus Christ should fill our hearts with joy.  This was the content of the announcement the angels made in Luke 2:10.  And this should be the focus of our lives as we live in the reality of the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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