Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Psalm 4 begins, “Answer Me When I Call.” It sounds a little demanding. Another version says, “Hear me when I call,” which sounded a little less demanding. So “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” This is a psalm of David, and he begins right away admitting that God is his righteousness, not himself.
He moves on to express his frustration at humanity asking the question, How long will ungodly keep their way and seek after lies?
Then in verse 3 is a beautiful picture of God, describing the Lord as having set apart the godly for Himself. The question is what does He set them apart for? For greater closeness? For purification? For His own enjoyment and relationship? For a special or greater service? All of the above?
It continues pronouncing that “the Lord hears when I call to Him.” We all want to be heard. When we are calling out to someone, we want them to hear us and respond. So it is a beautiful thing when we know that in our calling out to Him, He is listening, hearing us.
“Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” The English Standard Version talks about “pondering” and New King James Version says, “Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.” So either “ponder” or “meditate” or “fill your minds with,” it is describing something we should put into practice, especially during this time, to pause and read a psalm (my favorite) or some other passage of scripture before you go to bed, and as you are lying there, instead of counting sheep, or worse yet, worrying about everything – your kids, the virus, finances, your health – PONDER (a very good Texan way to say it) in your heart the words of that psalm or passage and repeat it over and over, look at it in different words, just ask God to write it in your heart, to tuck it away in your mind.
Next comes the offering of “the sacrifices of righteousness” or “offer right sacrifices.” Since none of us are sacrificing sheep in our backyard altar, what are these “right sacrifices?” Could it be the same as Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name”? It is not really a sacrifice to praise God in the good times, when life is normal and there is a beautiful sunrise and the temperature is 75. But when things are going very badly, it is 110 and you are out in it, the kids are screaming and the bank account is empty, it is an act of the will, a sacrifice, to praise God anyway. When we choose to praise, even though our life is spiraling out of control, we are honoring Him with our praise. And as we offer these sacrifices of praise, they increase our faith and trust in Him.
Then comes verse 7: You (Lord) have put MORE JOY in my heart than when my bank account is full and so is the gas tank (yes, my modern version). God will put His joy in our hearts as we “ponder” on His word, as we offer praise, as we choose to trust.
Following is the favorite verse, verse 8: In PEACE I will both lie down AND sleep…not in turmoil and worry, not tossing and turning, not lying down and getting back up because I can’t sleep…but in peace I will BOTH lie down and sleep, for “YOU ALONE, O Lord, make me DWELL IN SAFETY.”
This little chapter 4 of Psalm, unnoticed toward the beginning of Psalms, is chock-full of good things! There is a little song that Lily and I learned years ago by listening to it several times that helped us memorize verses 7 and 8 of this Psalm. It has not been forgotten. I hear a lot of people say, “I can’t memorize anymore,” but I challenge you to memorize Psalm 4:7 and 8. It is very short, it is meaningful, and it will be a comforting promise to you at times in your life. If you need a little help, play this song every morning this week and it will not leave you again! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwM51sIfN4Y Or if you aren’t into that, maybe write the verses on a card and place it by your bed to read morning and night. And during this crisis, remember that God ALONE makes us dwell in safety.