Text: Psalm 4:1-8
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent.
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
7 You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
It is generally agreed that this is a Psalm of Lament. Whoever is writing the Psalm feels wronged, perhaps being falsely accused of some wrong doing. “Answer me when I call to you,” he says. “How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations?” This writer makes real the frustration and hopelessness that many people feel at one moment or the next when they are misunderstood, misjudged, or maligned by others. The writer also, by implication, asks the question, “To whom will you turn at such times of misjudgement in your life?”
The Psalmist tells us, and his critics, how he has resolved this crisis of trust. “You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him.” Psalm 4:3. He also adds to his confidence in God’s help this bit of advice. Perhaps given to his accusers. “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit and trust the Lord.” Psalm 4:4,5.
In the last of this Psalm there is a return to the earlier theme of trusting the faithfulness of God. “Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” Psalm 4:6,7.
It is affirming to hear the ancients calling directly on God to hear their prayers and respond accordingly. This is not unlike Jesus’ likening prayer to the midnight door-knocking of a neighbor asking for bread. Jesus echoes the bold prayer of the Psalmist, and the now awakened neighbor gets up and gives his friend bread. Luke 11:5-13.
All Praise to Thee, My God, this Night (Psalm 4:8)
by Thomas Ken, 1709
All praise to You, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath the shelter of Your wings.
Forgive me, Lord, for this I pray,
The wrong that I have done this day.
May peace with God and neighbor be,
Before I sleep restored to me.
Lord, may I be at rest in You
And sweetly sleep the whole night thro’.
Refresh my strength, for Your own sake,
So I may serve You when I wake.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Dear Father, There are time when we feel lost and alone. When people around us accuse and judge for no reason, we feel a loss of our good name and trusting relationships. At those times we cry out to you for delivereance. Vindicate our good name and shine your bright light on the truth. In you we have joy and peace. In you we can rest at night, secure in your presence and your care. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Think of a person you know who is troubled for some reason. It could be because they lost a job, got unjustly criticized by a co-worker, or in some other way feel as though life has turned sour on them. Hand-write a note of encouragement to them and mail it. Also put them on your list of people for whom you are praying.