2005-04-24 - Who Will Bring Us Rain?
Psalm 4, Part 2
There seems to be no clear understanding of the background of this psalm. We don't know the circumstances of David's life which caused him to pen it. Leupold2 speculates it directly follows Psalm 3, and was written in the same context - that is, while David was in flight from Absalom. On the other hand Dahood3, who translates verse 6; "Many keep saying, 'Who will show us rain?'" sees the entire psalm as a prayer for rain. He sees the thrust as a challenge to those seeking relief from nature deities, versus the call to trust God.
Clearly, what we can see from this is that any attempt to identify the circumstances that led to the writing of the Psalm are purely speculative, no matter how well thought out. Therefore, since we can't identify the context, let's examine the text.
Verse 1: First, the psalmist was in distress. His response to this condition was to cry out to the righteous God. The natural response of the believer, when he finds himself in distress, should be to turn to God. Unfortunately, it appears that many in Israel turned elsewhere for their aid. It was this situation, the people's idolatry, that was the source of David's consternation. He was overwhelmed by the sin of the nation, her rejection of God. As a result, his life had become meaningless.
Verse 2: David identifies the specific problem. Many of the nation followed after false gods, going to them as the source of solace, instead of looking to the Lord.
Verses 3-5: And so David goes to the Lord. Yes, he was in pain, but at the same time trusting God, based on his experiences in the past. It was the relief provided by God in the past that confirmed David's trust in the present. It is absolutely vital we understand his faith wasn't an unreasonable faith, "a faith in faith," a concept David couldn't have even understood. Instead, it was a reasonable position grounded in the reality of God's righteousness.
"O Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous" (Ezra 9:15).
David first expresses his trust to God. Then he speaks to the unrighteous, spelling out what was their sin. David was outraged because of the affront to the Lord, the moving away of God's people. As with modern man, these individuals had chosen to live in foolishness, in lies. They were impressed with their own importance, having rejected the place of God. They were living a life of delusion by choice. They would call themselves godly, but they had placed others ahead of the Lord.
David was furious at the indignity to God expressed through the lives of these men. It was this same righteous anger expressed by Jesus in the Temple.
"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"" (Matthew 21:12-13).
2 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Psalms, Baker Book
House, 1969, p. 66.
To be continued.
Comments or Questions?