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Psalm 4

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OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION
INTRODUCTION
EXPOSITIONAL IDEA: The righteous can rejoice in God’s protecting grace that brings them peace and security in the face of distressing attempts to disgrace them.
It is safe to say that opposition to living out the Christian life is a legitimate reality, and that it comes in many forms. After you put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, you immediately begin facing opposition to living out your faith. Whether God assigns you to be a missionary, pastor, lawyer, plumber, electrician, manager, homemaker, or a contractor, there will be times when people will tend to turn against you, even lying if necessary in order to frustrate God’s work and disgrace you. The key is to determine how you will handle such situations, and we find a biblical model of overcoming the opposition in .
This Psalm likely reflects the events following , where David had fled for his life from Jerusalem when his very own son Absolem led a revolt to overthrow his position as God’s anointed king of Israel. Over a period of forty years Absolem lied and deceived others about his father, and then he sprung the trap one evening. According to 2 Samuel, David fled in the middle of the night and hid out in the garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley from the city. As recorded in , David called out to God and was able to sleep confidently in the Lord. records David’s response to the opposition later that evening.
BODY
Pay very close attention as to how David responds to the situation, as we will learn three very important steps to overcoming the opposition.
I. Petition the Lord (1)
David emphasizes his relationship with God as he addresses God as “God of my righteousness,” and his confident call to God in prayer is based on two things:
A. CONFIDENCE BASED ON THE PAST
David is confident that since God anointed him as king and has delivered him in the past (e.g., Goliath, but most recently the night before), that he can petition the Lord in confidence. As your relationship with God develops over time through prayer, you will have more experiences of how he has come though on your behalf and you can reflect on those times in prayer.
B. CONFIDENCE BASED ON GRACE
David clearly states that he has done nothing to warrant any special favor, and he asks God to help him simply based upon God’s goodness. When you go to God in prayer, you must do so based upon his grace and not on what you promise to do better, etc.
ILLUSTRATION: Is it true that prayer is simply the compliance with habit, dull and mechanical? A petty performance into which we are trained until tameness, shortness, superficiality are its chief elements? Is it true that prayer is, as assumed, little else than a half-passive play of sentiment that flows lazily on through the minutes or hours of easy dreaming? Let those who have really prayed give the answer! They would describe prayer with the patriarch Jacob who wrestled through the night with an Unseen Power, or the great Intercessor in the Garden of Gethsemane on that night he sweat tears of blood seeking the strength to carry out his Father’s will. Prayer is for the powerful in Christ! No prayer, no power!
APPLICATION: You must live a life of prayer before the Lord, or else you will live a life of defeat before your enemies. How much time do you spend in the presence of the Almighty each day? I would suggest that it is not enough time. Pray. Above all things, pray!
II. Exhortation of the Opposition (2-5)
While David’s exhortation to the enemy was likely rhetorical during the actual event, his confidence would serve as a wake up call for all of those that would oppose a confident person of God:
A. VINDICATION IS A REALITY (2-3)
Though David’s former leadership had fallen for lies and helped depose their king, David wants them to realize that God will intervene on behalf of his people.
B. CORRECTION IS A NECESSITY (4-5)
David now calls his adversaries to repentance and faith. The word that is translated into “angry” is actually “be angry with your wrong actions.” In other words, “tremble” at what you are doing and do not sin! David exhorts them to consider deeply what they are doing, and to offer “right” sacrifices to the Lord and trust him.
ILLUSTRATION: It is natural to defend yourself when opposed and lied about, but is this the best response? While David’s response to his adversaries is in a rhetorical format, we see a valid way for us to respond to those who would oppose our lives of faith with lies about our character and calling. Instead of losing self-control, even yelling or demanding that they stop, we should approach the opponent of our faith and encourage that person to realize that we are living in accordance to our faith in Christ, and that we have the utmost confidence that God will vindicate us in his timing. Not only are we to express our confidence in God’s vindication, but we should also call the person to think seriously about the position that he or she has taken against us and invite that person to change his or her mind and get with the program.
APPLICATION: How do you normally respond to those who attack you for living out your faith in Christ? Do you react by protest and demand, or do you calmly let that person know that you are confident that God will take care of you regardless of what he or she does, and that they should reconsider what they are doing? Do it David’s way.
III. Expression of Trust (6-8)
While the “many” adversaries demand some sort of visual evidence of God’s divine favor, David states that the joy and peace (shalom) that God has provided him in the past is sufficient. This is the ultimate expression of faith!
ILLUSTRATION: Like David’s adversaries, it is so easy to try to measure God’s joy and peace in your life by demanding an immediate physical blessing. However, when you do such a thing, you are relying on your emotions to dictate to you whether or not you have God’s blessing of joy and peace in your life. Instead of looking around you for proof to express your trust in God, you should look to the past and consider what God has done that provides joy and peace. The best example of experiencing God’s joy and peace in your life is when you trusted Jesus as your Savior.
APPLICATION: In what ways do you measure God’s peace and security in your life? Do you examine your current circumstances, or do you look to the past at what God has done for you in Christ Jesus? Do you allow your emotions to be your guide, or God’s truth to be your guide? No matter what you see around you, know that what God has done in the past is a sufficient basis for your faith that he has everything under control. If you do so, you will be like David and simply be able to lie down and rest at night.
CONCLUSION
The application of this Psalm to our lives is both broad and simple. Whatever the situation might be, you must endure the false accusations about you and your faith; but you have the assurance from God of his protective care and provision of peace and security. Jesus himself stated, “Blessed are you when people insult you and falsely and say all kinds of evil about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (). The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that his joy knew no bounds, even though he had been wronged and harassed at every turn (). Only a proven faith can overcome such antagonism from the world.
In the midst of a world that so antagonistically pursues your soul, in who do you place your faith? Jesus is the only one that can hel
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