Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. (Psalm 4:1, K.J.V.)
Psalm 4 is a Psalm written by David, and in its opening verse he hits the ground running with a profound thought. He says to God, “You have enlarged me when I was in distress.” Do you know what that statement shows us? It shows us that God does some of His best work for our good when we find ourselves in the tightest spots.
The Hebrew verb translated in the verse as “enlarged” is rachab. It’s a verb that means to broaden, to make room for, or to make wide. It’s the same verb that is used in reference to God enlarging Israel’s borders (Exodus 34:24; Deuteronomy 12:20, 19:8). Even more famously — because of Bruce Wilkinson’s best-selling book — it’s used in the “prayer of Jabez” from 1 Chronicles 4:10:
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. (N.K.J.V.)
In contrast, the Hebrew word translated in Psalm 4:1 as “distress” is sar, which refers to a narrow, tight space. It’s the word used to describe the place the Angel of the Lord blocked when the prophet Balaam’s donkey was attempting to pass:
Then the Angel of the Lord went further and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. (Numbers 22:26, N.K.J.V.)
By setting the words rachab and sar alongside one another, we get the point David is making. When he found himself in a narrow place — we might say he was boxed into a corner — God made a way for him to move out into a wide, broad territory. Charles Spurgeon, in his The Treasury of David commentary on the Psalms, illustrates the thought by describing an army that is trapped in a narrow passage and surrounded by the enemy. Just when the army’s situation looks totally hopeless, God dashes down the rocks, thus giving the army room to maneuver out into a larger place.
Perhaps you find yourself in a very tight spot right now. Maybe your own sins and bad choices have brought you to this spot, or maybe you are there through no fault of your own. Either way, your course of action should be to call upon God and ask Him to deliver you to a better place, an enlarged one where your every thought isn’t soaked in worry and fear. Like David, you should ask God to have mercy upon you and hear your prayer.
You might wonder, “But if God loves me why has He allowed me to end up in this tight spot anyway?” The answer is that He knows that you are much more prone to call upon Him from such a spot than you are to call upon Him from a wide, open place wherein you don’t sense your need of Him. That’s the thing about finding yourself in a jam: it will definitely get your attention and readjust your thinking. So, if you are currently in such a place use it as an opportunity to allow God to show off for you by delivering you out into a broad place. And when He does that, make sure that you not only thank Him for helping you but also commit yourself to serving Him all the more.