Scholars tell us that the more common names for a dog in Geneva Switzerland during the sixteenth century was “Calvin.” They of course were naming their mangy muts after John Calvin, the local pastor who was seeking to help bring reform to the church and to the city.
And, to be sure, this wasn’t any type of flattery.
It just goes to show how much people hated the gospel and hated the man who sought to propagate that gospel.
But Jesus said you should expect to be treated this way. He said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” The implication is that this is going to be the lot of those who follow him. People are going to try to discredit you by vilifying you and saying all kinds of things about you.
Slander is one of the chief tactics that the enemies of God employ. If a person can paint you in a bad light, they can remove you from a position of power or nullify your influence.
What did we hear during the last couple presidential elections? If you questioned Obama’s ability to lead the country, you were labeled a racist. You might not have said anything about race.
But its true. If you stand for what is right—if you dare to be a Christian, you’ll be disparaged and maligned. You’ll may be labeled a fundamentalist. In today’s world, if you’re a Christian and you have the audacity to say that you can’t bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, you’re going to be despised and you’re going to be called a Hater. Whatever the denomination they use, they are going to try and make your look like a kook in order to shut you up and shut your down.
And dealing with all this can be pretty difficult. There are a lot of repercussions to slander. It incites people against you—not just those who have it out for you, but others in the community begin to look at you in that light too—people who may have even been your friends. It can disturb you to no end.
The question becomes, how can you maintain any semblance of peace when you’re being attacked in such a way?
The passage that is before us this evening is a good one because recounts for us a time when David was being slandered. In verse 2 David says, “O men, how long shall my honor be turned to shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” David’s lamenting the fact that his reputation is being trashed. People are spreading lies about him and turning his honor to shame.
David has every reason to be agitated, but the Psalm is a sweet song of perfect peace. As a matter of fact, that’s the theme I want to use for this passage: The perfect peace of a slandered soul.
And the first thing I want you to see is the source of David’s peace.
I. The source of his peace 
David’s peace is not his own. It is not something that can be personally manufactured. His peace defies a lot of modern psychology. Pop psychology says that you have to relieve your tensions by taking your tensions out in a productive way. So they tell you find something to punch (like a punching bag). Or they will tell you to scream into a pillow. Once you’ve relieved your aggressions, then all is supposed to be well.
The problem is that you’re just giving into your aggression. And there is not really any peace created. You might be tired. But you’ve only allowed your tensions to gain a fuller grip on you.
It’s true that exercise might help you deal with your tensions a bit. It might be good to get out and take a walk. But you’ll notice David does not look to a punching bag or any training regiment as the source of his peace. His peace is found in God. That God is the fountainhead of his serenity is clearly demonstrated from verse 1. Verse 1 tells us three things about God. Each of these three attributes help to put David at ease.
His peace, first of all, lies in the fact that God is just.
A. A God who is just
He begins by saying, “Answer me, O God of my righteousness.” In essence, he’s relying on God to be righteous and be roused by the injustice that is being done to him that God will come to vindicate him.
Now, notice the line of thought here. David is agitated by the injustice being done to him. What he relies on is that God is just as perturbed, if not more. David is basically delegating his unrest to God. In other words, “I don’t need to be agitated because I know that God cannot stand this defamation.”
This is what I call the third commandment principle. The third commandment says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; for He will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” I’ve always liked the Westminster Shorter catechism’s explanation. It says, “however the breakers of this command may escape the judgments of men, the Lord will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.”
All this is to remind us that our God is just. And we can delegate our agitation to God and be at peace knowing He will defend our cause.
But his rest flows not just from the fact that God is just. It comes from the fact that God is also consistent.
B. A God who is consistent
Look at the next part of verse 1. It says, “You have given me relief when I was in distress.”
What’s David referring to here? He’s referring to the many other times when God has been there for him. This is not the first time David has been in trouble. Ever since David left off being a little shepherd boy, trouble has followed him everywhere.
And david looks back over his life and sees that God has been a consistent friend; a Rock that he could always depend upon. Now, when he stands in need again, he finds solace in the fact that the Lord has never let him down.
This is what we must do too. It is easy to get caught up in our present situation. It may become heated; our minds might be running wild, turning the circumstances over and over. We can recite the ways we’ve been wronged. We can stew on the machinations of our adversaries. But what we need to do during those times is remember that God has a long resume of help. All we need to do is flip through the photo books of our lives and recall the times when God has been our help. Doing this will help to appease our minds and put our souls at rest.
But notice that David also recognizes that God is not only a just God and a consistent God. He is also a gracious God.
C. A God who is gracious
In the last line of verse 1 David says, “Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.”
The word “gracious” is an interesting one in the original language. One commentator says that, literally translated, it means “to stoop down” or “to bend over.” Another commentator said that it has the idea of a superior listening to an inferior when the inferior had no claim to the audience. In other words, it is a word that carries with it the master-slave relationship.
Here is a great relief for the soul. God is great. He is much superior. But he doesn’t turn a cold shoulder to his people. Our God is one who is always willing to stoop down.
As a matter of fact, he has shown us how willing he is to stoop down and be gracious to us. The Scripture tells us that our God, Supreme Being that he is, stooped down and took our flesh. “Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but he emptied himself and took the form of a servant.”
When we are attacked, where is our peace to be found? Our peace resides in a God who is just and faithful God who is willing to stoop down in order to save us.
But we not only see the source of David’s peace, this Psalm also points out the soundness of his peace.
II. The soundness of his peace [2-6]
The passage has an interesting structure to it. Verses 3-5 are sandwiched in between verses 2 and 6. Verses two and six have to do with other people. And both verses are (to some degree) expressions of agitation.
In verse 2 he complains, “O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” David here is talking about those who slander him. From what it sounds like, they are doing a good job of it. They are turning his honor into shame. In other words, his reputation is being completely torn apart and he is being the one who is regarded now as the bad guy.
Now look at verse 6. It says, “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!’” This verse is expressing more anxiety. People are wondering if God’s really going to pull through.
So you have two verses that show a great deal of unrest. But in between these verses you see David demonstrating complete serenity. He has a peace that is so sound that it pervades his whole life.
Look at verse 3. It talks about how sound his theology is.
A. Theological soundness 
It says, “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.”
In the midst of his agitation he reverts to meditation. And what does he meditate on? It is the doctrine of election. It is the fact that God has set him apart. God has chosen him before all time and there, in eternity past, distinguish him and set him apart for himself.
Most of you all have or have had children. When your children get into a fight over toys, what is the number one decisive argument that is employed that is supposed to settle that quarrel once and for all. It’s when the child screams, “It’s MINE!”
What is the child saying? He’s saying that toy is “set apart unto me.” And why do they say it with such volume and intensity? Its because they have a zeal and jealousy for that toy. They have an attachment to that toy.
Of course, we know that there’s probably a lot of selfishness going on between the siblings. But that that’s kind of the idea behind verse 3. God’s election—his setting his people apart unto himself—entails a fervent love—a jealous love that should set us at ease. If we are God’s chosen, we know that God will defend us.
The Apostle Paul reiterates basically the same thing in Romans 8. Romans 8:28 is the famous verse, “we know that God works all things together for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined.” But then he goes on to say, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? What shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution, etc”
Paul & David both know the soundness of God’s peace because they both are intimately acquainted with the doctrine of election.
But the soundness of our peace is not just to be found in our theology, it is also to be reflected in our ethics.
B. Ethical soundness
Look at verse 4. He says, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.”
This is talking about his lifestyle—that is, his ethics. Sure, he has every right to be angry, but he’s not going to sin. That is to say, he’s going to refrains from any knee jerk reactions or rash decisions that he may regret.
Your enemies may be reviling you and trouncing your good name. But you don’t need to lash back or try to get even. I like what one commentator said. It is better to take counsel with your pillow.
That’s what David does. It says he goes to bed and ponders it in silence. In other words, he tries to sleep on it.
We know from the New Testament that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. We are to try and reconcile with those who have something against us. But sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes we cannot reason with our enemies. When that happens, God tells us that we are to have a conference call with our pillows in our bedroom. We are simply to retreat to our rooms and reflect on the fact that God will take care of us.
That’s what the next line tells us. David’s peace is not just found in the soundness of his theology and ethics. It is also found in his liturgics.
C. Liturgical soundness
Look at verse 5. It talks about true worship when it says, “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.”
When you are disturbed, oftentimes your worship is disturbed too. Worship can easily become ritualistic or outward only. But this makes religion very mechanical. In a ritualistic religion someone seeks to offer a sacrifice and goes through the motions of worship because that person thinks that once he does this, the divine being will be indebted to him. God becomes a slot machine where you put a quarter in and God spits out the reward.
But that’s not what David does. David offers the sacrifice and trusts in the Lord. In other words, his he remembers that the heart of worship is the relationship he has with God. And even more than that, he remembers that the Lord is his deliverer.
That’s what the sacrifice was all about. The sacrifice was a reminder that God salvation is of the Lord. The blood that was shed was a reminder that God had entered into a covenant with him and therefore pledged to be his Savior.
We in the New Testament era have even greater truth to rely upon. We have the true Sacrifice upon which we depend, Christ himself. Again, we can look at Romans 8. Remember what it says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not then graciously give us all things?
Certainly one of the things we should be given is the peace to know that God will take care of us.
We’ve seen the source and the soundness of his peace. The last two verses who us the symptoms (or the satisfaction) of his peace.
III. The symptoms of his peace [7-8]
In verses 7-8 two symptoms or evidences of his peace are given. We can tell he has peace because he has these symptoms. The first of which is joy, and it is an amazing amount of joy. Verse 7 says he has more joy in his heart than they have when they are at their highest. It says, “When their grain and wine abound, they still can’t compare to the amount of joy that I experience.”
How is it that we can have such joy? How can our joy be seismically more substantial when we are being deprived and attacked? Its because our joy rests in God and his favor and not in fleeting pleasures of worldly goods like theirs.
That’s what they are after. They want the power, prestige, and control. They want the goods and blessings of this life. That’s why they have to get rid of you. But those things are going to come and go. Our joy is going to abound forever because it rests in something much more eternal. It rests in God himself.
But your peace doesn’t just manifest itself in the joy you have, but it also manifests itself in the sleep you get.
Look at verse 8. Here’s another symptom of his peace. His peace is so great that he can lie down and get some rest.
Anxiety will typically take a toll on the amount of sleep you get. You’ll stay up later and you’ll probably wake up earlier. But a soul who is resting in God is going to sleep like a baby.
Okay, let’s get reasonable now. Is this even possible? I just want to back up here and say, “Who does this?” When life is turbulent, can you really just go to bed and sleep like nothing has happened? And while we are at it, let’s think about the “be angry and do not sin” thing. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find that to be a little impossible.
So, this passage seems a little far fetched to me. It is way out of our capacity to reach. There is no possible way we can do all this and maintain this kind of peace in the midst of a trying time.
But there was one who did. The peace of this passage ultimately resides in Christ. Christ is the only one in history who could achieve this kind of peace and live this kind of standard. And the good news is that though it is out of our reach, we can have it through him.
A real key to this passage is found in Philippians 4, where it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
A Address to God
B Words of other people
C Trust affirmed
D Silence in the midst of agitation
C Trust affirmed
B Words of other people
A Address to God
Kindled Fire is dedicated
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.