For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David. 1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. 2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? 3 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. 4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. 6 Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. 7 Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4 is thought to be a pair with Psalm 3, which was written by David while he was being pursued by his son Absalom. David is in real danger of being killed by the son he loves deeply. You can sense the swirling turmoil in David’s mind in these fragments of an argument with his enemies: How long will you shame me? It may not look like it now, but you should know that the Lord will hear me. You should be trembling on your beds as you lie down.
I can relate to that swirling conversation in the mind of what I should have said (except I didn’t), and what I would say if … (except I won’t) – and it doesn’t help. What will help?
Surrounding this tumult are two parts addressed to God. It begins with desperate pleas to “answer me when I call to you”; and “give me relief from my distress”. Clearly, he hasn’t seen an answer yet and is still in distress. But David bases his hope on who God is: “my righteous God”. It ends in confidence: unlike his enemies trembling on their beds, “In peace I will lie down and sleep”. Again, that confidence comes from who God is.
Lord, “let your face shine on us”. “Fill my heart with joy”. Because you are “my righteous God” who does answer when I call and does have mercy on me, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Written by David Cornell