Short Meditations in Psalms: 4.2 The Cause of his Distress
Psa 4:2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
This is one of those verses with footnotes showing a possible alternative translation. David has just called on the Lord to answer him in his distress and it is a distress based on belief and unbelief; his belief and the unbelief of others around him. It is to them he now turns, simply calling them “men” and asks “How long will you turn my glory into shame.” This may leave us wondering what he means by “my glory”; does it mean his own glory as king? Unlikely. When we look at the alternative translation it seems to make more sense: “How long will you dishonor my Glorious One.” And that ‘Glorious One’ has got to be God. How do they do that?
The second half of the verse explains that: “How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” The alternative given in the footnote suggests, “How long will you love delusions and seek lies?” In this case the original text seems stronger and more likely because it was something that Israel appeared prone to doing again and again throughout their existence. However to believe in false gods is to believe in a lie for there can, by definition, be only one God and He is the One who was revealed to Abram as the Creator of the world (Gen 14:19,22), the all-mighty, all-powerful, all knowing, all-wise God who is revealed throughout the Bible.
Of course these ‘false gods’ were shown in the form of idols made of wood or metal and in some parts of the world today you will still see such idols. In themselves they are nothing but what do they represent? They must represent the desire of human beings to be able to worship something visible, something tangible. The fact is that “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24) and is therefore unseen (Mt 6:6,18) and invisible (Col 1:15, 1 Tim 1:17) but people don’t like the invisible; it is easier to believe in what you can see.
Is that the reason that, within a month of having an amazing vision of God on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:9-11), the leaders of Israel, in Moses’ absence, allowed a golden calf to be made for the purposes of worship? (Ex 32:2-4). It was obviously in Jeroboam’s mind when he set up images at either end of the northern kingdom (see 1 Kings 12:26-30)
In our western cultures people much prefer to idolize (worship?) pop stars and even sometimes politicians and get far more excited about them than about God. We may not make and bow down before little wooden idols but we treat people or things in similar ways. Anything that is more precious to us than the Lord is tantamount to being an idol. May we not be like that!