Safety First – Psalm 4:8

Apologies to those who read Ophelimos regularly.  I had a busy (and fun) weekend and took Saturday and Monday off from blogging.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.  

Psalm 4:8 (For the previous four installments in this study, click here, here, here, and here)

Septuagint Translation

8In peace will I lie down and sleep;

            because you alone, Lord, cause me to dwell in hope.

This verse is very similar to Ps. 3:5 (here is a link to the study on that verse).  It expands on that idea even more, though.  The “peace” in the Hebrew is the word shalom.  There’s plenty available to read on that word, but since I don’t have a working knowledge of Hebrew, we can’t and won’t spend too much time on it here.

What I do want to focus on is the peace we do have.  And that’s the peace of reconciliation with God.  Rom. 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

David began this Psalm by saying, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!  You have given me relief when I was in distress.  Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.”  He now returns to that same theme.  Why dwell on our enemies and their attacks when we have peace with the God of the universe?  What’s more, He provides us with that peace.

“For you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  David gives all of the credit for his peace to God.  God is the one who is responsible for providing us with salvation.  We don’t ever need to wonder if we’re good enough or if we’ve done enough because in Jesus Christ, God has done it all.

This is the same type of “peace that passes all understanding” that Paul wrote about in Phil. 4:6-7.  Because God has given us the most important thing (salvation), the smaller things in life – the anxieties, worries, cares, and concerns – do not trouble us because we have the knowledge and hope that if God loves us enough to reconcile us to Himself in our sin, He surely is capable of taking care of these much more trifle matters of everyday life (even though they don’t seem trifle at the time we are experiencing them).

This is why I love the word usage in the LXX.  Whereas our English translations say “dwell in safety,” the LXX paints the picture of that safety as hope.  This means that we are not disturbed when trials in life invariably come.  Our safety and security rest not in material prosperity and peace.  That wouldn’t be hope at all.

Our safety and security do rest in the fact that God, on account of His Son Jesus Christ, has provided for our greatest need, the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls.  With this in mind, we have a confident expectation of a future in heaven that will make any amount of suffering we have to experience in this life pale in comparison.  Again, this is easy to say when we’re not in the “shadow of the valley of death” (Ps. 23:4), but nevertheless, it is the truth.

This safety and security we experience is in the midst of both attacks from our enemies (both spiritual and physical enemies) and uncertainty about the future.  David was able to confess that God made him “dwell in safety” because his faith enabled him to place an eternal perspective on things.  This eternal perspective on life is crucial to sustaining our faith in times of trial and distress, of uncertainty and despair.

With that in mind, we come to the place where we make confession with Paul in Rom. 8:38-39: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, no things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Because of this, because of God Himself working in our lives, we rest and dwell safely and securely.

And when it doesn’t feel like we have that safety, we return, as David did, to the beginning of this Psalm and plead with God, pouring our hearts out before Him.  We remember that our feelings and experiences don’t negate the promises of God nor His history of continually providing for us.    And we let the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor. 1:3-4) work in our lives and speak to us through His Word.

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  1. Responding to Psalm 4 « ophelimos

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