Psalm 4, as with many other psalms, begins with instructions to the musicians. The book of Psalms should be a constant reminder that God instituted and encourages music as part of our worship.
"ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent" Psalm 4:4b
Peace can be found when we keep our hearts focused on God.
This psalm introduces us to a new poetic technique for structuring the text - the change of address from talking to God to talking to people.
It begins with a cry for help and ends with a declaration of peace, both addressed to God. The middle of the psalm addresses humanity, exhorting them to trust in God.
There is not universal agreement on what is meant by the word "selah" but it appears to have a structural function in this psalm as the second one is found right after the meaningful center.
The Cry for Help
The psalmist cries out for God to show favor by answering his prayer. We are never told exactly what his request is. One of the beauties of Psalms is the ability to place our needs before God using the poetry of the psalms. What is your request? Cry out with the psalmist for God to answer you!
The prayer is addressed to Elohim Tsedeq. Elohim is a plural form of El which means "God". It refers to both the majesty and mystery of God. (Check out our post on Elohim.) Tsedeq means "righteousness or justice".
David is asking the "God of What is Right" to make things right in his life.
How to Find Peace
The psalmist then turns his attention to humanity and gives them some great advice. I wonder as I read, is this advice really to others or is he just speaking to his own heart? What is taking away your peace? Consider the psalmist advice:
- Stop seeking worthless, disgraceful and deceitful things (Psalm 4:2). Isn't this a great picture of what the world has to offer? It all sounds so good, but in the end we find nothing but emptiness, disgrace and lies. Are you seeking the things of the world? Peace will only come when you seek after God.
- Remember God hears our cries (Psalm 4:3). I need this reminder! I often, in my small faith, wonder if God is even listening to me. The psalmist assures us that God hears us when we cry to Him. Peace can only come if you really believe God answers your prayers.
- Wait in silence for His answer (Psalm 4:4). This verse is translated in different ways in various translations, but I prefer the translations that call us to be silent because silence is the right response to knowing God has heard your cry. God has heard us, now rest in silence and wait for His answer.
- Trust in God (Psalm 4:5). He has heard and, if you continue to seek Him ("offer right sacrifices"), He will come to your aid. The waiting is the hard part. Peace during waiting comes when we fully trust God.
The Goodness of God
David returns his attention to God. Many say there is no place where you can find goodness. They cry out to God but hear no answer.
But the psalmist has experienced the abundance of God's blessing. This should be even more true for us, who have seen the love of God in the face of Jesus who died for us!
The psalmist ends by declaring the joy that he has in trusting fully in God. He can now rest in peace knowing he is secure in the love of God. What is taking away your peace? Are you willing to trust God and wait for His answer?
This post is part of a series on the Psalms.
Question: Why do we sometimes struggle to believe God will answer our prayer? Please leave a comment.
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory