Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him. Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD. Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. (Psalms 4:1-8 NASB)
I like how the ESV and the old NIV Bible I have translate verse four: “In your anger do not sin.” If you know me much at all, you know this is something I struggle much with. I have anger issues. I have various issues surrounding anger. One of the issues I have is for many years I don’t think I was ever angry and did not sin. For me the two were synonymous. Anger = sin and sin = anger. Through much anger (strangely enough), frustration and lots of counseling I have come to understand it is possible to be angry and not sin in that anger. I still like to be angry because it takes me dangerously close to sin. For me, it is a very fine line which I would rather heed 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and ‘abstain from every appearance of evil.’
Relief. Verse one says God has relieved me. He has taken the pressure off. He has taken the weight off. Jesus encourages us to take upon us his yoke for it is easy and his burden is light. This is what comes to my mind. Being relieved or freed from having to carry the weight on my own. Being freed from the heavy burden I try to carry on my own. Relief. Rest. Freedom.
It makes sense to me what follows is an encouragement to not sin my anger. It isn’t really a command, but a reminder that I don’t need to. If I have relief, freedom from my burdens… from my battles with my enemy, then I don’t need to allow my anger to take me to a place where I sin. I am free from this too! I am free from having to worry about whether I will sin in my anger because I have been released from the pressure of my battle of my enemy of the burden I am carrying so I don’t need to let it get to that. God is hearing me when I call to him. He is relieving me. He is offering his burden and his yoke which are easy and light and manageable. God is offering me freedom from the shackles of my anger. I don’t need to be its slave any longer.
This is the first time I have read this Psalm in this way… and it is offering me more hope than I could imagine. My life is about to take some serious turns and take a new direction which I had not anticipated and I am bound to struggle with anger and feeling pressure of life and God is reminding me to allow him to carry the burden, reminding me I can relieve the pressure, reminding me I am free from pressure and from sinful anger.