Hear Me When I Pray, Answer Me When I Call

Psalm 4

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Answer me when I call to you,
    O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
    Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
    How long will you make groundless accusations?
    How long will you continue your lies? Interlude

You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude

Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
    Let your face smile on us, Lord.

You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4

God, you show me in honor that I was innocent.

You gave me relief from all my troubles and snares.

So listen to me now when I call to you for help.

Be kind to me and hear my words of prayer.

Men, how long will you try to dishonor me? For you are troubling to me.

Do you enjoy wasting your time searching for new lies against me?Mocking me?

You can be sure that anyone who serves the Lord faithfully is special to him.

The Lord listens when I pray to him.

Tremble with fear, and stop living by sin.

Think about this when you go to bed, and calm down.

Give the right sacrifices to the Lord, and put your trust in him!

Many people say, “I wish I could enjoy the good life.

Lord, give us some of those blessings.”

But you have made me happier than they will ever be with all their wine and grain.

When I go to bed, I sleep in peace, because, Lord, you keep me safe.

Psalm 4

Psalm 4 – Talking to God and Men

This psalm is titled To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. The title of the psalm indicates that it was directed toward the Chief Musician, whom some suppose to be the Lord GOD Himself, and others suppose to be a leader of choirs or musicians in David’s time, such as Heman the singer or Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:33, 16:5-7, and 25:6). The title also tells us that the song was deliberately written to be accompanied with stringed instruments. In this psalm David poured out his complaint against slanderous enemies and found peace and refuge in God.

A. David talks to God and to men.

1. (1) David talks to God.

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

a. Hear me when I call: There was passion in David’s cry. He didn’t want to just cast up words toward heaven. He needed God’s attention to his present problem.

i. Often power in prayer is lacking because there is little passion in prayer. It isn’t that we persuade God by emotional displays, but God wants us to care deeply about the things He cares deeply about. The prophet Isaiah spoke with sorrow about the lack of this in Israel: And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You (Isaiah 64:7). This is a good example of David stirring himself up to take hold of God.

b. O God of my righteousness: David knew that his righteousness came from God, and not from himself. He calls upon the God who makes him righteous.

c. You have relieved me…Have mercy on me: In a familiar pattern, David used past mercy as a ground for future help. “God, I know You haven’t blessed me to this point to abandon me, so please have mercy on me.”

i. “This is another instance of David’s common habit of pleading past mercies as a ground for present favour.” (Spurgeon)

2. (2-3) David talks to men.

How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood? Selah
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The LORD will hear when I call to Him.

a. How long: David asked a valid question. Just how long will the ungodly keep to their way? They can’t keep to it forever, so they may as well abandon it now and be blessed.

i. If we find ourselves on a compromising course, it is valid to ask, “How long? If I extend this course of action out to its logical and inevitable conclusion, where will I be? Knowing this, how long will I play around with this sin?”

b. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? Many try to connect Psalm 3 with Psalm 4, thinking that this was also written in connection with Absalom’s rebellion. This is probably incorrect, because the focus in this psalm isn’t on David’s physical safety or his kingdom, but on his reputation. Wicked men slandered David.

i. “In this psalm the problem is one of malicious slander and lies. It is the psalmist’s reputation rather than his person that is being attacked.” (Boice)

ii. Turn my glory to shame: Jesus experienced what David experienced. Wicked men tried to turn almost every glorious thing in His ministry into shame.

c. The LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly: David knew that he and other godly people were set apart for God. There are many reasons why we set things apart.

·We set things apart for our own enjoyment.

·We set things apart for greater purity.

·We set things apart for special service.

i. For all these reasons and more, God sets us apart unto Himself.

d. The LORD will hear when I call to Him: The ungodly have a disaster waiting for them, but the godly have a great reward in the LORD. This is why David knew, the LORD will hear when I call to Him.

i. All Christians should have the same assurance. They should be confident that God will hear their prayers. When prayer seems ineffective, it is worth it to take a spiritual inventory to see if there is a reason for unanswered prayer. The Bible tells us there are several possible reasons why prayer may not be answered.

·Not abiding in Jesus (John 15:7).

·Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21).

·Failure to fast (Matthew 17:21).

·A Bad marriage relationship (1 Peter 3:7).

·Unconfessed sin (James 5:16).

·Lying and deceitfulness (Psalm 17:1).

·Lack of Bible reading and Bible teaching (Proverbs 28:9).

·Trusting in the length or form of prayer (Matthew 6:7).

B. David talks to himself.

1. (4-5) David calms himself before the LORD.

Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And put your trust in the LORD.

a. Be angry, and do not sin: With the ungodliness around him, David had reason to be angry, but he had no reason to sin. He reminded himself to not sin in his anger, and to find solace in meditation before the LORD.

b. Meditate within your heart: David spoke of the Biblical practice of meditation, not the Eastern practice of meditation. In Biblical meditation, we fill our heart and mind with God’s word. In eastern meditation, the idea is to empty the heart and mind, leaving it open potentially for deceiving spirits.

c. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD: David knew the value of doing religious things (offer the sacrifices), yet he also knew that those could not replace trust in the LORD. When religious observance is coupled with true trust in God, we draw near to God and experience the benefits of drawing near.

2. (6-8) David receives blessing from God.

There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?”
LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

a. Who will show us any good? The voice of the ungodly cynic echoed in David’s ear. After continual disappointment from man, we may begin to doubt if God will show us any good.

b. LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us: Despite what the cynics said or thought, David trusted that the LORD would show him good.

i. David seemed to claim it upon the Aaronic promise of blessing in Numbers 6:24-26:

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

c. You have put gladness in my heart: When we know that the face of God shines favorably on us, it puts gladness in the heart. Though David was in distress, vexed by ungodly men all around, he could still have gladness in his heart because the LORD put it there.

d. More than in the season that their grain and wine increased: The ungodly can be happy when the money is coming in and everything is prosperous. David could be happy even in distressing times, because the LORD put gladness in his heart.

e. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep: David could sleep well at night, even in distressing times and surrounded by the ungodly. He slept well because his safety was from the LORD, not from circumstances or even feelings.

i. We can imagine a man lying down to sleep, tormented by all of what his enemies or pretend friends say about him. David could be that man, but instead he trusted in the LORD. He therefore had a gladness that the world could not take away, even with all their slander and lies.

ii. In his proverbs from Poor Richard’s Almanac, Ben Franklin had some good advice: “Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho’ within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?”

f. For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety: G. Campbell Morgan points out that David’s idea of alone here was not the LORD and none other. Instead, the idea was that David found safety in his solitude with God.

i. “The thought of the word alone is ‘in loneliness,’ or as Rotherham renders it ‘in seclusion’; and the word refers to the one going asleep. This is a glorious conception of sleep. Jehovah gathers the trusting soul into a place of safety by taking it away from all the things which trouble or harass…the tried and tired child of His love is pavilioned in His peace.” (Morgan)

(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – ewm@enduringword.com

Categories: Old Testament Psalms

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Author: J. Palmer

Living under the wings of God and the angels around me keeping me going and safe. Sharing the love of Christ.

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