Short Meditations in Psalms: 4.4 Maintaining Godliness
Psa 4:4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
Having declared who the ‘godly’ are in the previous verse, we should just affirm that we are now referring specifically to Christians. As such we have been made ‘godly’ by God Himself when He put His own Holy Spirit within us at the new birth.
Now godliness is not only a declaration of being, it is also a day by day outworking of that being. In the New Testament we would talk about this godliness in terms of sanctification, that act of separating us out as children of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit AND the ongoing process of becoming more and more Christ-like.
In the previous meditation we referred to this process: “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Cor 3:18b). Note the ‘ever increasing’ aspect. Our lives are to be continually changing to be more and more like Christ and that is seen in the way we handle life, and specifically in the way we respond to the challenges of life.
David, you will remember, is contrasting the life of the godly with the lives of the ungodly and so he now goes on to pick up various things that come to mind that are aspects of living a godly life. He is aware that with the ups and downs of life it is possible to get angry. Fair enough, he implies, but a godly person will not let than anger go on and fester and become twisted and distorted by the enemy and become outright hostility. No, don’t let that happen because that would become sin, so the way to stop it happening is to make sure the anger is limited and lasts only for a short while.
How can you do that? Well, you are going to bed to sleep in a relatively short time so use that short time as a measure of the time in which you need to deal with your anger and lay it down. When you go to bed search your heart and mind and ensure you are at peace and if not, identify the cause and lay it to rest. Don’t keep going over the issue but lay it down, be at peace and be silent, or still. Only in such a way will you avert the danger that anger can bring, as righteous as it might be.
The apostle Paul used this verse in his teaching: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Eph 4:26,27). Instead of sleep he uses sunset as the cut-off time to deal with that anger and there he spells out the danger that Satan will stir up your anger into something worse’ hostility, divisiveness, break in unity with others. Failing to deal with your anger can become a threat to your godliness.