Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
It can be hard to keep trusting God when events in life turn against us. We can be tempted to look elsewhere for help and hope. Psalm 4 warns us against putting our confidence in ″delusions″ and ″false gods″ (v. 2).
It is difficult to find a precise event in David's life that matches this psalm. However, this gives the psalm a more general character, making it easier for us to apply it to our own circumstances.
Still, we do learn from this psalm that at one point in his reign, King David was distressed. His anguish stems from how his people have turned to idols (v. 2). Later in the psalm, David tells us that the people were longing for prosperity (v. 6); it is possible that this is what led them to foolishly turn to the false pagan gods of fertility. As their divinely appointed leader, David is concerned for their spiritual welfare. The king is honoured when the people obey God, but is shamed by their sin (v. 2). When King David prays, God listens (v. 3); as His anointed king, David rebukes the people for their sinful ways and warns them to repent.
Not all, however, are disobedient. In Psalm 1 we met the righteous who trust in God. Now, David pleads with the people to take a long, hard look at themselves (″search your hearts″, 4:4) and follow the godly example of the righteous (v. 5).
If only the people searched their hearts, saw the depth of their sin, and turned back to God, then He would graciously grant them the good things they longed for (vv. 4-6). The people echo the famous blessing of Aaron, ″the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you″ (Numbers 6:25). God will delight to fill their hearts and lives with joy and abundance, if they ″offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord″ (Psalm 4:5).
Tough times test our faith. Christians can be tempted to compromise their loyalty to God by turning to delusions like astrology, feng shui, or crystals. Others may put their hope in false gods like money (see Matthew 6:24). This is idolatry. The right response is to ″offer the sacrifices of the righteous″ (Psalm 4:5), which is a consecrated life of obedience (Romans 12:1-2). As the lives of David and many of God's people testify, in times of trouble this is the true path to joy and peace.
There are times in life to ″search your hearts and be silent″ (Psalm 4:4). What is the purpose and benefit of this self-reflection?
Twice now we've heard David speak of a good night's sleep (3:5; 4:8). According to these psalms, what is the recipe for peaceful sleep?