Psalm 4:6-8 “Many are asking, “Who can show us any good? Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
I have been spending some personal time in the first 30 chapters of Psalms recently. As I was praying about what to write concerning the current state of things in this country and many peoples’ lives, these verses in this Psalm stood out to me. The question that the Psalmist said “many are asking,” is a question many are asking again today. The world is looking for a “Messiah,” someone who can fix their problems, fight their battles, make them happy and give them peace. But the Psalmist does not look around or tell the people to “look within” themselves for this “one.” Rather he looks up and asks God to show him favor: “Let the light of your face shine upon us.” When the Psalmist asks God to let the “light of your face shine upon us” or says things like “Do not hide your face from me.” (Psalm 27:9, 69:17, 102:2, 143:7) or “How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1) or cries out in despair: “Why do you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 44:24, 88:14), he is speaking of the joy, favor, peace and blessing of the presence of God and knowing Him as a friend knows a friend. To the Psalmist who had come to know the very real presence of God and had gazed upon and saw the beauty of the Lord, nothing was better than the “light of His face shining upon him” and nothing was worse than feeling the absence of His presence. This is impossible to simply explain, rather it is something only those who have experienced can understand and thus is why in Psalm 34:8 he says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
This is what we need today, to look up to the Lord (i.e., cry out or call on Him in prayer) and take refuge in Him (i.e., trust in Him). And this is precisely what many or most of the country is not doing. Many are asking this question: “Who can show us any good?” but few are looking to the One who actually can show us good and from whom everything good actually comes! And I really believe part of this is because people do not really believe what Psalm 37:4 assures us of: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” And many do not recognize or believe the truth of James 1:16-18 which says: “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” So instead of looking up, many are looking around or in. And thus many are and will be deceived, disillusioned and remain in distress.
But for those who look to the Lord and take refuge in the Lord and humbly but passionately ask Him to “Let the light of your face shine upon us (your people),” we will come to know the joy and peace of His presence. (And is not everyone looking for or desiring joy and peace?).
The first thing the Psalmist testifies to after praying for the light of the Lord’s face (His grace, His mercy, His blessing, His favor) to shine on His people is: You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Grain and new wine abounding is speaking of the prosperity of those who do not know the Lord and call on His name. The Psalmist is saying even when others are enjoying the best this world could offer and are prospering, I have an even greater joy than they, for their lives may be filled externally with things that bring them temporary happiness inwardly, but God has filled my heart internally with a joy that does not depend on or derive its joy from outward or external prosperity! And that joy comes from the presence (blessing, favor, closeness) of the Lord! Psalm 16:11 says: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And how we need joy today! In fact Nehemiah 8:10 says: “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” How true is this! When we lack joy or are without joy, life is even harder, unbearable, wearisome and burdensome! But if you have and know the joy of the Lord you have strength and vigor no matter the difficulties or battles in life!
The second thing the Psalmist testifies to (or declares) is that: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Obviously, this is speaking of peace! But this peace comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. Only He can grant us and give us real peace, and that peace comes from His presence too! And this is not some “bed of roses” kind of peace where all problems in your life disappear and you never face any battles again. No, no, this is peace in the midst of battles and despite battles! Psalm 3 shows this dynamic.
Psalm 3: “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.”
So who can show us any good in the times we live in? Who can fill our hearts with joy and give us peace? Only the Lord. In fact Isaiah 26:3-4 says: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Look up, not around and not in!
Call on His name for Psalm 145:17-19 says this: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”
Lastly, we need to choose and commit to rejoice in the Lord and cast our cares on Him (which is how you practically show that you do trust Him!).
The prophet Habakkuk 3:17-19 concludes his brief book where he has been told of judgment coming upon his people because of their sin, with declaring this: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
And the apostle Paul writing from a prison where he is a prisoner wrote to believers on the outside who were not prisoners (as least externally like him) this in Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.