(Psalms 4:1 ESV) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
King David approaches God in prayer directly. Today’s prayer-style begins with, “O Jesus, I just want to …,” as if apologizing for bothering him. Listening to our prayers is no bother at all for God. If we think about it, he hears all our thoughts anyway, and as he possesses all the wisdom in the universe, considering our petitions is, for him, a no-brainer. As for our requests, he knows what’s best for each of us, so if what we want is best, he already has it under control. If not, his answer is “wait,” or, “no.”
I think our prayer time might be better spent by thanking God for his provisions, and praising him for who he is, naming his attributes and what they mean to us. Jesus said to wear out the unjust judge with our pestering, but God isn’t unjust. Jesus applied that parable in Luke 18:6-8. “Cry” in that passage doesn’t mean crying with tears or whining. It means cry out to God with shouts. That speaks of desperation, as when we reach the end of ourselves and our circumstances force us to fall on his mercy.
David acknowledges God’s sovereignty in the righteousness he claims. “God of my righteousness,” attributes his righteousness to God.
(Psalms 4:2) O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
While this was David’s prayer, it looks forward to Jesus’ experience with the Jewish religious leaders; crucifixion turned his honor into shame, after they expounded false accusations and sought after false testimony.
(Psalms 4:3) But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
This is a pure statement of sanctification. The LORD sets apart(sanctifies) the godly for himself, and because they are separated from the world system, he hears when they call to him.
(Psalms 4:4) Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Ephesians 4:26 refers to this, and, of course, Apostle Paul got the interpretation right. This makes no provision for ranting and raving in anger, but rather, “ponder—or meditate—in your hearts on your beds,…” What are we to ponder? The offense that caused our anger? Not at all; one of the New Testament’s major themes is forgiveness. So, what else must we ponder to obey the Scripture? How about pondering God’s grace toward us, and applying that same grace toward the offender? “… and be silent,” doesn’t sound like sobbing, and it certainly isn’t, “the silent treatment!”
This is nothing more or less than applying 1 Corinthians 13 love when times get tough.
(Psalms 4:5) Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
Here’s a great example of balance between formality and meaning. “Right” sacrifices conform to Jesus statement in Matthew 5:23-24, where he deals with anger and religious duty. Instead of storing up resentment in your heart, “put your trust in the LORD.”
(Psalms 4:6) There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
Beginning prayer with something to the effect of, “Who will show us some good?” suggests the apostles’ fear during the storm in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25, where they asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Jesus responded with, “O you of little faith.” The difference between the faithless prayer and the prayer of faith is the “Panic Factor,” or appealing to God out of fear of circumstances, as a last resort.
While this may sound like the desperation of verse one, it isn’t. This faithless prayer accuses God of not knowing, or caring, about what’s happening. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I think, “Lord, we need a little help here,” would have been more appropriate.
(Psalms 4:7) You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
King David, writing of his experience with the Lord in prayer, compares his joy to that of bringing a successful harvest into the storehouse, where God abundantly supplies all his needs. This kind of unspeakable joy comes from God’s unfathomable, inner peace.
(Psalms 4:8) In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Here is the child-like sleep of knowing that no boogeyman hides in the night because, “you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”