Slander: Making false and damaging statements about someone. It can happen in many different contexts but perhaps the most common is by those who are being led, about the leader – whether that is in politics, business, education, armed forces or religion. It is invariably an unpleasant experience and sometimes extremely stressful. I have experienced it to some mild extent over the years but I have seen it seriously damage some good people and good churches. For me, it was the feeling of helplessness (I wasn’t there to defend my decisions) and profound frustration that what was good and from God was being undermined.
King David in the Old Testament experienced it when is son Absalom stole the hearts of the people and turned them against him. David’s reaction was to turn to God in prayer; we can read in Psalm 4.Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! [ESV]
What has happening was unjust, unfair and he therefore begins by reflecting on God’s just character.You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! [ESV]
He reminds himself of how God has answered prayer in the past, relieving his sense of distress.How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations How long will you continue your lies? [NLT]
Absalom and his crowd were spreading lies about David. Defamation, libel, gossip and grumbling – they are all related and spawn by the Father of lies.
How did David react?But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. [ESV]
- He asserts (probably to himself) that it wasn’t just himself they were dealing with but that he was Yahweh’s (the LORD) servant. The covenant God, Yahweh, would hear David when he calls.
- Much like Paul, who probably had this verse in mind when he wrote Ephesians 4:26, he recognizes anger at injustice is good but that it didn’t excuse any sinful reaction or over-reaction.
- He chose to focus on doing what is before God and trust Him. By its very nature, you can’t control what people are saying about you, so it is much better to simply hand it over to God. It is His work and He is in control – you certainly aren’t. So humble yourself – acknowledge your helplessness and ‘give’ it to Him. If you don’t, you are onto a loser and will screw yourself up, seriously.
- He recognizes that the deepest, most profound joy and satisfaction are found in God, more so than even in prosperity.
- And so, he looks forward to sleeping soundly, despite the danger, lies and injustice.
Some think that Psalm 3 was used as a morning psalm because good sleep is referred to in the past tense, and Psalm 4 was used as an evening psalm as one was preparing to go to bed.
If you are in a similar situation – you might do well to meditate on this Psalm.
May God bless you and give you a good night’s rest.