More Joy in One Ordinary Day (Psalm 4)

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“I have God’s more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.
At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.”
(Psalm 4:6-8)

To say “I have enough” is a real blessing, but perhaps it’s an ordinary thing.  But to have “God’s more-than-enough” is extra-ordinary! This verse claims that God gives me everything I need and then much more besides. The Bible tells me I’m “more than a conqueror” and that God gives me “far more than I can ask or imagine.” These are statements about the abundance of God’s giving.

And the cross is how God gives. This is the way that “God’s more- than- enough” is given to me. Jesus paid it all and announced the account settled: “It is finished.” He did everything necessary to deal with sin and sorrow and sickness in my life. He rose from the dead, is seated in heaven and raises me up to sit with him. He gives me more than anything I might think I deserve.

In this context, God’s more-than-enough makes shopping sprees sound like the tiniest of tiny passing treats.

And even these tiny treats have their payback (Have I overspent? Should I have bought both?) But God’s more-than-enough has no payback at all, only rest and satisfaction:

“At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.”

And that’s why I can still sing that old song with gusto: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because I know- I KNOW- He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”

It’s a wonderful expression of confidence, but the whole context of Psalm 4 shows that it was a confidence maintained against terrible odds. Here’s the whole psalm:

“Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

   How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

 Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.

  Many, Lord, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’
    Let the light of your face shine on us.
  Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.

 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.”

So here’s the thing: how can I live in the experience of that confidence when so many things seem to go pear-shaped? What’s the secret of that “more joy in one ordinary day”?

The first clue is in v3: “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself.” This isn’t a matter of pride, but of humble awareness. Anyone who has come to Christ has experienced that feeling of chosen-ness.

You have been set apart.

The writer speaks to those of his companions who have been influenced by people caught in fantasy and idolatry. But it’s different for you.

It is not because we are particularly special, outstandingly gifted men or women. No, it is because …., well, because God has set us apart! He did this because He loved us, but why He should love someone like me is frankly, beyond me.

But He did.

And that sense of choice is an inspiring encouragement when the day grows dark. It enables me to sing that lovely line: “Let me be singing when the evening comes.” And since He chose to love me, He cannot but choose to hear me. So, “The Lord will hear when I call to him” (v3). This is the second clue.

I can take this for granted. Someone asked the question: “Who could wake up a king at 3am for a glass of water? The answer is: only his son.

And that’s precisely who we are, in Christ.

He hears us! And I can say to my companions, “I want you to know this privilege which I have, The Lord will hear me when I call to him.”

And that’s the third clue to the writer’s confidence: the outward acknowledgement of what’s going on inside.

So often when we are in trouble we moan, “You can’t expect me to bear witness to my faith when I’m feeling like this!” But the Psalmist has enough confidence to round on his accusers and take them on!

It’s not a sniping counter-attack but an analysis of their situation.

“Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.”

First, make sure you don’t sin, whatever you do. Second, make sure you are searching your hearts. Are there no times when you are serious about your lives? Third, make sure you have a sacrifice to cover your sins.

It’s basic ABC stuff: there is no way you can come into this confident joy unless you are seeking God and turning from sin; unless you are serious and thoughtful about it; unless there is a sacrifice that covers your sins. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin.”

So “Trust in the Lord” who loved us and died for us. Trust in the Lord who was raised from the dead for us. Put all your trust for entering heaven on the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

The cross is the only way home.

And “home” means rest, despite any appearance to the contrary. And the Psalmist looked around and saw the light of the Lord’s face shining on his life. He woke up singing “The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.” He knew he was a blessed man. And he looked within himself and acknowledged God’s loving provision: “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.” (v7).

And he looked to his Lord too, at the end of the day, in untroubled confidence that God had it in hand: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (v8).

“I have God’s more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.
At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.”

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