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[d] 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 not written with reference to any particular event. The author of this Psalm is King David. It is unknown what instigated King David to write this psalm. Matthew Henry in his commentary on Psalms 4 states that not all of the written psalms are occasional. “Many of the psalms were written for the instruction of the people of God, who attended in the courts of his house, the assisting of their devotions and directing the conversations”, he adds and he takes psalm 4 as one such psalm. One information we know about this psalm is that it is been handed over to the chief musician. Some of the commentaries say that this musician is God while the most commentaries say that it is the leader of Choir in David’s palace.
He outlines the psalm as follows –
- David begins with a short prayer – Vs. 1
- Children of men dishonoring God and Calls them to consider the ways of the godly
– Vs. 2, 3 & 4
- Exhortation to serve and trust God – Vs. 5
- His experiences of God’s works in his life – Vs. 6,7 & 8
David starts the psalm by praying to God. David requests God to have mercy on him by listening to his prayer. David seems very desperate as he composes this psalm. The passion of David is seen in this prayer. He desperately longs to hear the voice of God which can give relief to his distress. He addresses God as a righteous God. Though He knows God is righteous, he wants to confess it and bring it out.
Verses 2, 3 & 4
It Seems like David is addressing to people who do not fear God and are threatening his life. The second line of verse 2 is more like a sermon. He is preaching against unbelievers not to love delusions and seek God that are not true. He wants to affirm his position given to him by God. He talks about God setting him apart from everyone else to belong to God. He wants to communicate to them that he is not like any other man but are different from others by the choice and separation of God for himself. He declares that the Lord listens to his prayer when He calls on to him. In a way he is trying to communicate to his pagan enemies not to think of the God of David as the same God that they are seeking which do not listen or speak. He wants to tell them in affirmation that his God listens to his call and will answer him. In verse 4 he gives exhortation to them. He warns them not to commit sin and have a trembling heart in front of God. He wants them to meditate and check themselves if they have any sins moving in their hearts and minds. Bed time is usually the time that is fit for self-reflection to think about their actions of the day. He wants them to give thought to their ways.
This verse is very doctrinal. He exhorts them to offer the sacrifice of the righteous and trust in the Lord. He means to say that not everyone that offers sacrifices is righteous. But the Lord accepts the offerings of the righteous only. Therefore he wants to make sure that they have a clean heart before they offer sacrifice to God and he asks them to trust in the Lord.
Verse 6, 7 & 8
After his exhortation in verse 6 he turns back again to God to pray. The first line of verse 6 may very well be his own people that are questioning him about prosperity or their needs. There might have been a time when the crops failed them. He prays to God to show his mercy by asking God to show his light upon him and his people. He prays to God that when the people’s grain and wine abounds his heart will be joyful- this is such a great expression of leadership.
Finally he closes the psalm by praying to God to take good care of him as he sleeps.