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Psalm 4

By Pastor Doug
Safety of the Faithful
To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
This Psalm was likely written in the evening while David was fleeing from his son Absalom.  Psalm 3 was in the morning……….this may be the evening offering of the same day(s).  This is David's song from the heart when his life is in distress. 


Psalm 4:1

 1Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
         You have relieved me in my distress;
         Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
The "hear me" in verse 1 may be better understood as David pleading with God to answer him when he's been praying for deliverance all day.  God of my righteousness is not only a reference to our righteous God but also the God that gave David his righteousness.  Remember this is all happening because David was being chastened for his sin.  Those sins were forgiven.  David is looking to the God that makes him righteous and cries out for mercy from Him at the hearing of his prayer.  God has delivered him……or relieved his distress in the past.  Distress means 'pressed into a corner' or a tight spot.


Psalm 4:2-3

 2 How long, O you sons of men,
         Will you turn my glory to shame?
         How long will you love worthlessness
         And seek falsehood?  Selah  

 3 But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
         The LORD will hear when I call to Him.
The 'sons of men' were the leading men of rank.  David is talking to those who turned their back on him.  These are people he once trusted that had now rebelled and sided with Absalom.  They had been seduced by the vain things Absalom offered.  David asked how long will you chase after those worthless things?  David knew that the Lord set apart the Godly for Himself.  He wanted his enemies to know that God would hear when he called.


Psalm 4:4-5

 4 Be angry, and do not sin.
         Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  Selah  
 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
         And put your trust in the LORD.
Now David speaks to his own followers.  They, too, have been betrayed and he gives them instruction.

  • The 'be angry' is better said 'Stand in Awe' or 'Tremble'.  That's hard to do when your hurt, isn't it?  You don't want to stand in awe……..you want to get even.  You want to break their teeth out.
  • Don't sin.  Paul quoted this verse in Ephesians 4:26.  There is a holy anger and a sinful anger.  Sinful anger will lead to other sinful behavior.  It's a short step from anger to sin.
  • Look into your own heart.  When you've been done wrong and you lay down in bed, what goes through your head?  You rehash over and over what the other person did to you.  David is saying look at your own heart instead of the heart of others.
  • Be still.  Another version says 'be sorry for the things you find in your heart'.  Many times when we look in our own heart, we will be still because of what we find there.
  • Offer right sacrifices.  Absalom was offering sacrifices for the wrong reasons.…..see 1 Samuel 15:12.  While David was on the run, he couldn't offer sacrifices at the temple.   However, he could still promote and believe in the things God called them to do.  He was being a leader.
  • Trust in the Lord.  Absalom trusted his ability to sway the people by his popularity and his leadership abilities.  His ways would fail because they were not the ways of the Lord.


Psalm 4:6-8

 6 There are many who say,
         "Who will show us any good?"
         LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
 7 You have put gladness in my heart,
         More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
         For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The commanders or leaders report to David what the people are saying.  They are distressed and asking, "Can anything good come from this?"  or "Who will show us any good?"  They were longing for the good old days; the way thing used to be.  Someone said, the good old days are the combination of a bad memory and a good imagination. 


David wanted to see the light of God's countenance on them.  This refers to the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24.  The gladness of heart surpasses their wildest dreams.  And another day ends and David will lie down again.  He lies down in peace.  The word is "shalom".  This is a peace that is adequacy of life; confidence; fullness of life.  In spite of fleeing for his life from his son he could lie down in peace because he was in the hands of the Almighty.