Psalm 4


David’s world was often full of trouble with enemies all around. He must have felt extremely lonely at times as people tried to hunt him down like a dog to kill him.

Nevertheless, David pours his heart out to God and tells Him about those who are trying to slander his name and reputation. While doing so he finds peace and refuge in God.


‘For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

This psalm was for the director of music and was to be sung with the use of stringed instruments. Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘All of the singing was done by the choristers, not by the people, but the New Testament appoints all Christians to sing, Ephesians 5:19 / Colossians 3:16.’

‘Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?’ Psalm 4:1-2

When we read David’s opening words, we can’t help but feel that he’s desperate for God’s attention. He’s desperate because of the present situation he finds himself in, Isaiah 64:7. In his distress, he cries out to his righteous God, the very God who made him righteous.

He desires relief from those who worked against God and were bringing distress to his life. He asks God to show him mercy and to hear his prayer.

Asking the question ‘how long?’ is a question that most Christians have on their lips.

How long will it be before the Lord returns? How long will it be before our enemy Satan is finally banished forever? How long will it be until God brings an end to all the ungodliness which is happening in the world? Revelation 6:10-11. And God’s answer is, that He will deal with it.

When we read through this psalm we would be forgiven for thinking that this is all about David’s safety, but as we go through we soon discover it’s actually about saving his reputation. There’s nothing new about people trying to tear down a person’s reputation, even Jesus Himself went through this, Mark 3:22.

People will often try to destroy someone’s reputation, especially if they do great things for the glory of God, they turn those great things and God’s glory into shame.

The people who turn David’s glory into shame and the people who love delusions and false gods are those who have exchanged the truth for a lie and worshipped the created instead of the Creator, Romans 1:25 / 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

You may notice at the end of verse two, some translations have the word, ‘selah’. Although no one really knows what this word means, it likely means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can imagine David pausing for a breath as he reflects upon his current situation and his reputation.

‘Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.’ Psalm 4:3-4

It’s the Lord Himself who sets people apart, that is sacrifices them and David is well aware that He, His faithful servant, and other godly people have been set apart for God. David knew that he and other godly people were set apart for God.

David knows because he has been sanctified by God and for God, that his prayers will not fall on deaf ears. God hears the prayers of the sanctified.

As Christians today, we too, have been sanctified, 1 Corinthians 1:2 / Hebrews 10:10, and we should know that our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears, God hears our prayers, Jeremiah 29:12-13 / 1 Peter 3:12 / 1 John 5:14-15.

Notice he writes, ‘tremble and do not sin’, the Septuagint translates this phrase as ‘be angry and do not sin.’ This text is quoted by Paul in Ephesians 4:26.

In the context of the psalm, David was surrounded by ungodliness and he had lots of reason to be angry, but that anger didn’t give him the right to sin. Remember anger in and of itself isn’t sinful, is what we do with that anger which may lead to sin.

The best remedy for anger is meditation, searching our hearts and simply being silent. When we meditate upon God’s Word, our minds become filled with godly things and the anger is quickly gone, Philippians 4:8.

After a long day of stress, there’s nothing better than laying in our beds to have some quiet time to reflect upon God’s Word, Psalms 63:6.

‘Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD. Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.’ Psalm 4:5-8

When the righteous offer their sacrifices to God, this demonstrates their trust in God, Romans 12:1-2 / 1 Peter 2:5.

It’s through this offering that one reaps the blessing of God and although the unrighteous are sceptical concerning the way of righteousness, David asks that God prove to them His favour of the righteous by displaying Himself through the righteous.

David asks, ‘who will bring us prosperity?’ Some translations have the word, ‘good’. It’s clear that even the righteous may have doubts at times and wonder if God will show them any good, especially if they have one disappointment after another. However, David trusts that God will show him good, Numbers 6:24-26.

He asks God to ‘fill his heart with joy’, that’s because the heart is the centre of the human spirit. The righteous are filled with joy because they focus on the inner man in times of distress and as a result, they can sleep in peace, Lamentations 3:22-23 / Luke 8:22-25.

Most people in the world sleep at peace and are filled with joy when they have lots of money and everything is going well, however, David could be filled with joy despite what happens or doesn’t happen.

It didn’t matter to him whether there was a bumper crop of new grain and new wine. He can sleep well because his safety is from the Lord, not from circumstances or even his feelings, Philippians 4:10-13.


Prayer is so vital for the Christian, Matthew 7:7-8 / Ephesians 6:18 / 1 John 5:14, and there may be times when we doubt if God will ever answer those prayers.

The Scriptures teach us clearly that our prayers will be answered, however, there are somethings which will prevent God from answering our prayers, Psalm 17:1 / Proverbs 28:9 / Matthew 6:7 / Matthew 17:20-21 / John 15:7 / James 1:6 / James 5:16 / 1 Peter 3:7.

When we face challenges in life and become angry, maybe it’s time to lay on our beds and simply meditate upon God’s Word. It’s then we can remind ourselves of who God is, who we are as His children, and what He had done for us in the past, Psalm 77:11-12 / Psalm 143:5 /Psalm 77:12.

As a result, we will sleep well every evening, knowing that God is indeed our strength and our refuge, Psalm 18:2 / Psalm 46:1-3 / Isaiah 25:4.

Go To Psalm 5


"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."