1 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!
2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Prayer is an important theme in this Psalm of David. It begins with the plea, “Answer me when I call” (verse 1). Again, “hear my prayer!” Then, “the Lordhears when I call to him” (verse 3). It’s an amazing picture of fellowship. David talks to God and God hears David. And he keeps David. He sustains and guards him (Psalm 3:5; 4:8).
Now these are observations. They are all by the way of discovering what the text says. But don’t think we’re blank-slate readers. Jesus has let us in on an important tip: the whole Bible is about him (Luke 24:25–27; John 5:39, 46). So an integral part of discovering what this psalm means is seeing how it’s connected to our Lord.
Consider again the amazing picture of fellowship: that David prays and God hears him. This is evident in Psalm 3:4 as well. David cried to the Lord and he gets an answer. This access mirrors Psalm 2:8 where the Lord invites his Son (and King) to ask whatever he wants and it will be given to him. The common thread in these first few psalms is that God hears the prayers of his king and no enemy will stand in his way. The Lord hears and ensures his King’s dominion (Psalm 2:9–12). Though foes are many, the Lord lifts David’s head (Psalm 3:1–3). Even when he’s in great distress, David can trust in the Lord(Psalm 4:1–3).
David is undoubtedly a pointer to Jesus. The eternal kingdom promised in2 Samuel 7:13 sets in motion a greater longing for the Messiah to come. David will have a son who is king forever (and it’s not Solomon). We begin to see that God’s fulfillment of his promised Messiah is wrapped up with his faithfulness to David. God cuts off David’s enemies because he is keeping his promise about Jesus (2 Samuel 7:9; 8:1–13, 14). And this is why David is able to trust God amid his enemies in Psalm 4.
David indeed has enemies, but he says not to sin. Be angry, sure, be agitated or perturbed, but do not sin. David knows the promise and he trusts the Lord. Therefore, being the model of a faithful Israelite, he offers right sacrifices (Psalm 4:5). He believes. God is enough for him. Material stuff turns immaterial. Circumstances, come what may. His joy is in the Lord who keeps him (Psalm 4:7–8). David’s faith — his trust that the Lord will keep his promise of an eternal throne (i.e., the reign of Jesus) — propelled him fearless when distress abounded. That’s what is happening in Psalm. That is what it means.