There is a very natural emotion that we humans have when someone has hurt us, but if we don’t pause (Selah), that natural emotion can lead us into sin. David has good counsel for angry people in Psalm 4.
Many scholars think that Psalm 4 is a continuation—or a part 2—of Psalm 3. As you will notice in the preface of Psalm 3, David is on the run from his son Absalom, who is trying to steal the kingdom of Israel from him.
Look at the swing of David’s emotions:
- Troubled/sad (v. 1)
- Anger (v. 4)
- Contentment (v. 7)
- Peace (v. 8)
The first time David tells his readers to Selah pause is between verses 2 and 3. The change is almost an about-face:
Look at this: look who got picked by God! He listens the split second I call to Him. Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for His verdict (vv. 3-5 in The Message).
My friend Josh Schram shared these truths:
- Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
- It’s right to be angry, but it’s not right to sin.
- When someone hurts us, it’s tempting to break God’s law. We can almost justify it, but it is a sin to give in to anger.
“Search your heart and be silent”—Selah. This pause gives us hope that we can “build your case before God and wait for His verdict.”
In Romans 12:17-21, Paul gives similar counsel when dealing with enemies: As far as it depends on you…
- …Don’t repay evil for evil.
- …Do repay evil with doing what’s right.
- …Don’t take revenge.
- …Do let God handle it.
- …Don’t mistreat your enemies.
- …Do bless your enemies.
- …Don’t be overcome by evil.
- …Do overcome evil by doing good.
Since David let his anger go, that also means he didn’t sin! His clear conscience meant he could lie down and sleep in peace.
You cannot hold a grudge and peace in the same heart.
Please join me next week as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms.