January 4, 2018: Being Slandered?January 04, 2018:
by Josh Moody
The “distress” of David in this psalm appears more related to those who, through cunning use of words, turn his honor into shame, using vain words and seeking after lies. David may well be experiencing slander, gossip, or the tasty bitterness of finding someone is misinterpreting your words to cast you in the worst possible light.
Perhaps you are experiencing exactly that this morning. You checked your email before you read the Bible, and there you can see how someone at work is using your words against you. You never intended what you said to be interpreted that way, but now—taken out of context—it puts you in a bad light. Your honor is being turned into shame.
How will you cope with this situation? David provides us with a model. First, he turns to God in prayer. “Answer me when I call.” “Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” It is a good rule of all followers of Christ that we pray before we act—certainly before we act in a moment of controversy (or anger). If you do not have the time to pray before you respond, think whether you should respond at all.
But then David also speaks to himself. It was Lloyd-Jones who introduced the phrase “preach the gospel to yourself.” David does that here. “Be angry, and do not sin”; or as Paul cites this text in Ephesians, “in your anger do not sin.” Things will happen that will cause us to feel angry. That is no excuse to sin because of that feeling of anger. Anger itself is not always bad; indeed, anger can be the right response towards sin and evil in the world. But rare is the man or woman who can experience anger and not be tempted to lash out in a rage (whether with words, a hasty email reply, or even physically). So, school yourself. Yes, I am angry. Yes, they did say that. Yes, that gives me a right to be angry. But, no I will not sin.
Instead, what? Worship. “Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” Take the perspective of the heavenly world to the battlefield, and it will not feel so intimidating, nor the final result in any doubt. Worship him, offer right sacrifices in the community of God’s people, and therefore trust him. People will tease you for this response, as they did David. “Many are saying” that this posture of not sinning and trusting God is foolish. But the one who casts his care upon the Lord experiences peace and, yes, even joy. Great joy. More joy even than “when their grain and new wine abound.” More joy than you can find at a drunken party, that’s for sure!
What’s more, that means you will be able to sleep. Anxiety will flee when you cast your anxiety on him. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”