Psalms 4:4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
I have long liked the way the NIV and some other English translations render the first part of this verse, so I was surprised to see that the Japanese translation I use renders it as, “Be fearfully respectful, and then do not sin.” I have heard more than one teacher use the English version to say that anger in itself isn’t sin, but it has the potential to cause us to sin. That in itself is true enough, particularly since Jesus got angry enough at the way people were desecrating the Court of the Gentiles in the temple that He made a whip to drive them out. (John 2:15) However, this might not be the best passage to back that up! However, the point about examining our hearts when we’re lying in bed is the same in both languages, and is an important one. When the world gets quiet around us, particularly after we’ve gone to bed, all kinds of thoughts can run through our minds. We tend to replay things that have happened, nurse grudges, and plot revenge. David is saying not to do that. Rather, we are to be honest about our own motives and actions and not be complaining to God about what has happened. (Though David himself did a good bit of that!) These days, with so many opportunities for electronic distraction, many people seem to do all they can to avoid examining their own hearts, and that can be dangerous indeed. Many people are fundamentally lonely, and they seek to fill that void with noise of one sort or another. Given some of the lyrics around today, that can be like swimming in a septic tank! We need to be willing to let the Holy Spirit shine His light into every corner of our being, and then we need to be honest about what He turns up. If we will do that, and respond appropriately to what He turns up, then we will grow spiritually to be the happy, mature children God desires.
I have probably earned an advanced degree or two in self-deception, but thankfully I feel like I’ve put most of that behind me. At this point I am very aware of my weaknesses, and know that it is only by God’s strength that I can overcome them. The issue is simply being consistent in seeking His help, rather than wallowing in the weakness. I have had my times of insomnia, when I couldn’t seem to shut off my brain enough to go to sleep. That’s when I need to remember that David said to examine my heart and be silent. After all, God once told me out loud to shut up! I am never to fear self-examination, but at the same time I need to be careful that I am guided by the Holy Spirit, since the devil loves to destroy me with accusations. After all, the name, Satan, means, “the accuser.” If he says anything with roots in truth, I simply need to say, “Thank you. Lord Jesus, I repent of that and ask You to cleanse me,” and then trust that He really will do that. (2 Peter 1:9)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be quiet enough, on my bed and through each day, to hear You clearly, allowing You to correct, teach, and grow me, so that I may indeed by the child and servant You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!