Psalms Chapter 4
The book of Psalms is considered a book of the Bible which is filled with much comfort and encouragement. A Psalm, a hymn, a song is something that generally is used to comfort and encourage. Of course, much of the book of Psalms God used King David to write: the shepherd boy turned king who faced danger after danger in the most extreme of ways, from slaying lions to giants, to facing armies of men and being left destitute to hide in caves. When looking at the life of King David we can see why God chose to use Him to pen many of the Psalms, not because of the turmoil David faced, but because David always turned to God in his circumstances no matter how extreme they were.
Psalms 4:1 says, “To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” Many of the Psalms are in fact prayers. “Hear me when I call” does not imply a command, but it implies a beseeching, a begging. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
One thing to notice about the life of King David: he prayed A LOT. And when he did, he went boldly unto the throne of grace saying, “Hear me when I call!” of course David knew God would hear him because he understood that any righteousness He had was of God. That’s why he said in verse one, “O God of my righteousness.”
It is hard for a person to have confidence that they can come boldly before the holy God unless they understand that any righteousness they have comes from God and not themselves. David understood this. That is why he said in Psalms 3 that “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord.” Concerning righteousness in the Old Testament, most people seem to understand that it is was indeed based upon the keeping of the law. Deuteronomy 6:25 says, “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”
Of course all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. Jesus is the only one that has done “all these things’” as Deuteronomy 6:25 says. Our righteousness is Jesus because He kept the law and we did not, and He also died for our sins. You have not kept the law, but if you trust in Jesus; then through Him you have kept the law. It doesn’t matter how much you have sinned. What matters is whether or not your righteousness is of God.
This verse in Psalms 4:1 is an excellent example of how to approach God. Come to Him begging and beseeching, and come to Him relying upon Him as your righteousness. This is a good way to begin a prayer, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness.” This is very similar to the way Jesus taught us to pray when He said in Luke 11:12, “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
David went on to say in verse one, “Have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” God is merciful. And God hears prayers, especially the prayers of those for whom He is their righteousness. But it never hurts to ask and to beg for even more mercy or encouragement and reassurance that God is listening because such will give you patience to wait upon Him who does hear your prayers and who will answer them in His time.
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” It is very important to remember that God hears our prayers because of His mercy. The philosophy of the world is “Never say never.” But this is wrong. Sometimes it’s good to say never. For example, God will never run out of mercy. You can never beg God for too much mercy. This is an important truth to remember whenever you pray because we are nothing but sinners and we can never have enough mercy. Exodus 25:17 says, “And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.” The arc of the covenant which contained the Ten Commandments had set upon it a mercy seat of pure gold. There may indeed be nothing more valuable than the mercy of God. God will never run out of mercy. And never means never.
Psalm 4:2 goes on to say, “O Ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” Unlike King David who spent time in prayer with God, most men do not pray and do not turn to God in prayer: neither in good circumstances nor bad. There are 2 things listed here that most men do: Turn God’s glory into shame and seek after leasing. To turn God’s glory into shame is an idea that is very closely associated with one of the Ten Commandments which says in Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Look at the word “vain.” The word “vain” carries with it the idea of idolatry. Taking God’s name in vain is not just to use His name as a curse word or a slang word. It is much more than that. To turn the glory of God into shame is something that happens very easily. Any time God is not given the credit He deserves, any time He is not glorified, any time He is not recognized for His all powerful involvement in the circumstance of life and the shedding of His grace, mercy and holiness upon the world; His glory is turned into shame. Shame, of course, includes with it the idea of confusion. The word “shame” in verse 2 is even translated “confusion” in other places in the Old Testament. When you don’t give glory to God, you will fall into confusion. Why?
The Bible says in Colossians 1:12-17, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us
from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear
Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of
sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth,
visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: And he
is before all things, and by him all things consist.” When human beings do some great work or build
some great building, they often associate their name with it somehow. For
example, think of all the things associated with the name
The second thing in verse 2 is that they seek after leasing. This really is a term that refers to making money off people in unfair ways. We live in a material world, and it is easy to be materialistic. Most people are. The reason many people do not turn to God is they are after the material things, not the spiritual things, not the things of God. Therefore, they don’t pray. If they pray, they just might have to say to God, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Of course, we come back to the same point. It’s impossible to pray like King David did in verse 1, and it’s impossible to not do the things mentioned in verse 2 unless you understand that God is your righteousness. Prayer is talking to God. People don’t talk to people whom they don’t like or with whom they don’t want a relationship or don’t have a relationship. It is hard to talk to someone if you don’t know them. To know God you must come to Jesus. Then you learn to pray the way David did, and prayer will become a delight.
Regarding turning God’s glory into shame, it’s interesting to think about the Bible verse which says in Psalms 138:2, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
Look into the sky and behold the glory of the sun as it burns in the daytime. It does not share its glory with anything. God is like this. Nothing burns brighter than the glory of God. It is brighter than the brightness of all the stars of the universe combined. This is why God said in Exodus 33:20, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Considering these principles, it’s very interesting to notice that Psalms 138:2 says that God has magnified his word above his name. How long will you turn God’s glory into shame? The written word of God reveals Jesus and Jesus is the living word.
Apparently what people should be doing instead of turning God’s glory into shame and instead of seeking after leasing is doing as David did and saying to God, “Hear me when I call.” In other words seek Jesus in prayer. You may just be infinitely surprised what you will find: eternal mercy and grace, infinite goodness and blessings. Psalms 4:3, “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: The LORD will hear when I call unto him.”
Everyone is trying to get someone’s attention. Everyone wants to get noticed. But if you seek to get noticed, make sure you seek to get noticed by God. Psalms 11:4 says, “The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” The Bible also says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good.” A godly person is a person who has trusted in Jesus to find righteousness rather than in their own actions. Once you come into a relationship with Jesus, once you have turned from your sins to Christ, you are set apart by God. In fact this is one of the reasons people sometimes reject Jesus. They don’t want to be set apart. Being set apart means you now have an intimate relationship with God and it also means just as Psalms 4:3 says, “The LORD will hear when you call.” What a comfort, what an encouragement, what a blessing to know that if your sins are confessed, God is going to hear you when you speak to him. Think of all the people who have lost sleep, passed days in fear and worry, or even gone to such extremes as nailing themselves to crosses thinking that somehow this would help God hear them when they call. But all you have to do is trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and rely upon His righteousness, and there He is giving his eternally undivided attention to you.
Think about Psalms 4:3 again, “The LORD has set apart him that is godly for himself.” You don’t need to worry about if you will ever accomplish anything for God or if there will be opportunities for you. You don’t need to worry about how much of God’s attention you have or how special you are to God. God does the setting apart. Just as God does the justifying. God is going to use you. God is going to be close to you. This is God’s will and God’s good pleasure. Once you trust in Jesus you become set apart. It doesn’t matter if you are one of those who turn from your sins and turn to Christ and then never do another thing in this life according to the will of God. God is going to use you regardless. No matter how much you resist him and no matter how much you fail because God is the one who sets apart the godly. Of course, it would be better to cooperate with God and get rewards in the next life, but the point is God sets apart, and nothing in this world can stop that.
Romans 8:31-39 says, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words just as Psalms 4:3 says, “The LORD has set apart him that is Godly.”
Psalms 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” Another verse in the Bible that carries with it the same idea as the phrase, “stand in awe”, is in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” To stand in awe basically means stay focused on God and the things of God. Do not let the world and the things of the world distract you from your intimate relationship with God. Walk hand in hand with the Savior. It’s not always obvious. Temptation or self will or strong lust can lure us away from Christ. Sometimes it is simply the daily things of life that keep us busy. That is why the secret is to have fellowship with God in all the things that you do. Fellowship with God through Christ is not just going to church once, or twice, or three times a week or having a special time of prayer or having a time that you sit down to read the Bible. These are good things, but you can pray and think about the Bible wherever you are. You can talk to Jesus and you can listen to the quiet whisperings of the Spirit everywhere you go no matter what you are doing. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
I Corinthians 11:31 says, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” It is wise to take time out to examine yourself and to judge yourself. Sometimes the best time to do this is at the end of the day when you are lying in your bed. What do you think about at night when you lay yourself down to sleep? Do you search your heart, do you keep your sins confessed, do you spend time in prayer? Lie on your bed and ask God to show you the things He wants you to see about yourself. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
Psalm 4:5, “Offer the
sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” Sacrifices
are something people in the Old Testament were very familiar with. They did
many of them. And the basic purpose of them was to symbolize the forgiveness of
sins that had yet to be given through the death of Jesus on the cross at
Psalms 4:6-7 says, “There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.” Everyone hopes for good things to happen to them. Everyone wonders who is going to do good unto them. There is only one whom you can always turn to and rely upon to do good unto you if you trust in Him, and that is Jesus. Men are sinners with a sinful nature, God is holy. James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” If it’s good, God did it, and God gave it. King David had gladness in his heart more than in the time that their corn and wine increased. There is a gladness and joy found in Jesus which is greater than the joy of material blessings. Material things can make you feel happy. Yes, they can. People feel gladness when they have plenty of food and plenty of money and plenty of heath, but even that sort of gladness is not as great as the gladness of having the LORD lift up the light of his countenance. But what does it mean to lift up the light of the countenance? What image does that give you: the image of a face looking upon someone? A lover will turn her face upon her love and the light of the countenance will be cast. In a sense that is the idea. In the morning the sun rises and its light is cast upon the earth. It is both brilliant and beautiful. In a sunrise there is the feeling of things new: a new day, a new opportunity, the chance for good things to happen.
Malachi 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” One day there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Both physical and the spiritual blessings are going to come in a permanent and eternal way. There are some physical and spiritual things that can happen in this life that are good, but you must wait for the full light of the sun to arise. We can see it now on the horizon, the rays of the Sun of righteousness breaking forth. Psalms 4:6-7 says, “There be many that say, Who will shew us any good?” Jesus will.
Psalms 4:7, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety.” The world cries “peace peace when there is no peace”. Sometimes people tend to become unaware of danger and sometimes people become too focused on the things that they feel are dangers to them. King David lived a life full of danger. Being a leader of a country has its dangers, but those dangers are multiplied when you trust in Jesus. Everyone wants to be safe, safe from violence, safe from suffering, safe eternally. There is only one way to have true peace, which is spiritual peace, and to be safe eternally, and that way is Jesus. “For thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety.”
Copyright; 2011 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved