Today’s passage: Psalm 4
Today’s chocolate: Madécasse 70% cocoa
David begins this psalm by asking God to respond to his prayer; however, he immediately turns and addresses a group of people who “love what is worthless and aim at deception” (v.2). He continues speaking to them, urging them to trust in God, until the very end of the psalm, where he returns to addressing God. You can picture David turning his attention from God to the people around him, then back to God. Who is his intended audience, and what’s his point? Who exactly is this psalm for, anyway?
It’s for the people. Consider how, in John 11:41-42, Jesus prays to God, “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” I’d argue that David, at the beginning and end of Psalm 4, is addressing God with a similar awareness of his audience. He brackets his exhortations for them to trust in God by modeling that same trust.
His audience, apparently, thinks David is wasting his time. They wonder how any good can come of their current situation (6); they see no goodness and justice in the world, so they see no reason that they themselves should do any good. Going back to Brueggemann’s classifications, these “sons of men” are in a place of disorientation, where God seems either impotent or uncaring when it comes to achieving justice. David, though, speaks from a place of reorientation; he knows better. He’s cried out to God, who has “relieved him in his distress” (1). He says to God, in full hearing of his listeners, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound” (7). He knows he can rest easy when God is looking out for him, and he aims to present his own example as a basis for God’s trustworthiness.
Does he convince his listeners? The psalm doesn’t say, and I would suggest that this is because if you are in a place of disorientation right now, a crucial member of his intended audience is you.
I bought some new chocolate over the weekend. Tomorrow I’ll be pitting the new bar, Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Mint Crunch, against Endangered Species Forest Mint. That’s right, it’s another Chocolate Showdown! Tune in Tuesday for this test of mintal prowess.