Psalm 4

 
Psalm 4
Trusting God in Times of Pressure
 
Psalm 4. Here we have another Psalm of David, and although the heading does not specify the circumstances in which it was written, some expositors feel it is a natural sequel to the preceding Psalm; i.e. David fleeing from Absalom. But while Psalm 3 was more personal, Psalm 4 is directed at others, and was perhaps intended for public service.1 The theme of this Psalm is the remnant’s confidence in the Lord in times of extreme pressure, and the peace and joy they can know while walking in the paths of righteousness. 
 
PSALM 4
To the chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
1 When I call, answer me, O God of my righteousness: in pressure thou hast enlarged me; be gracious unto me, and hear my prayer.
 
v.1 The Pressure of Trial. The psalmist is calling out to the Lord to hear his prayer. Clearly, the situation is dire. Yet he must acknowledge, “in pressure thou hast enlarged me”. Through the pressure of trial, there has been growth. Prophetically, this speaks of the remnant, growing in numbers in spite of the persecution (see Gen. 15:13-16; Ex. 1:7). Spiritually too, they will grow through the circumstances of the great tribulation. But practically, the Lord often used trials and pressure in the lives of believers to produce spiritual growth.
 
2 Ye sons of men, till when is my glory to be put to shame? How long will ye love vanity, will ye seek after a lie? Selah.
3 But know that Jehovah hath set apart the pious man for himself: Jehovah will hear when I call unto him.
4 Be moved with anger, and sin not [quoted Eph. 4:26]; meditate in your own hearts upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer sacrifices of righteousness, and confide in Jehovah.
 
vv.2-5 Preaching of Righteousness. These verses are addressed to men. First, the Lord speaks in v.2, then the faithful speak to those around them in vv.3-5. Prophetically, the remnant will utter similar words first to their Jewish brethren, then to the nations around. This is part of the Lord’s work of sifting the righteous from the wicked. The Lord will hear when the righteous call, although their righteousness is still no ground of acceptance before Him. How important this principle, that a good conscience is important in the efficacy of prayer! The righteous are marked by a hatred of sin. We are to be angry about sin, just as Christ was angry (Mark 3:5, Matt. 21:12)! Even God is angry against what is sinful (Psa. 7:11, Psa. 139:22). The warning is “do not sin”; i.e. don’t let righteous indignation turn into fleshly anger. This is quoted in Eph. 4:26. “Sacrifices of righteousness” may be more than literal sacrifices, and may include the thought of practical righteousness in one’s life.
 
6 Many say, Who shall cause us to see good? Lift up upon us the light of thy countenance, O Jehovah.
7 Thou hast put joy in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their new wine was in abundance.
8 In peace will I both lay me down and sleep; for thou, Jehovah, alone makest me to dwell in safety. 
 
vv.6-8 Joy and Peace. Although many might look out on the prospects of the remnant with hopelessness, those who trust in the Lord are content with a sense of His presence. They have a joy in their hearts in this time of trial that exceeds the joy of material prosperity; “Thou hast put joy in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their new wine was in abundance.” With a sense of the Lord’s presence, the faithful are at peace, and can sleep (v.8), knowing that the Lord is protecting them.
 
In Thy presence we are happy;
In Thy presence we’re secure;
In Thy presence all afflictions
We can easily endure;
In Thy presence we can conquer,
We can suffer, we can die;
Wandering from Thee we are feeble;
Let Thy love, Lord, keep us nigh.2
 
  1. It appears to spring from the same occasion, but goes out more in expostulation to others, with directions for the godly; and it was meant for public service, as its companion Ps. 3 seems rather private or personal. – Kelly, W. Notes on the Psalms.
  2. Williams, W. Saviour Lead Us by Thy Power. Little Flock Hymnbook, #42A.