Psalm 4 is one of David’s prayers. It is, as many of them are, a teaching prayer, one at least partially aimed at those of us who “listen in.” As is often the case, we have no definite information about the setting in which this psalm was written. (It is similar to Psalm 3, which is said to have been written during Absalom’s rebellion.)
The prayer begins with an appeal for God to hear and be gracious, just as He has in the past (v. 1).
Verse 2 identifies David’s problem: instead of being honored as king, he has become a reproach. Many of his followers have turned away to what is worthless and deceiving, perhaps a rebel leader. David reminds them that the godly are those who are set apart to the Lord; He will hear them (v. 3).
Verses 4-5 give wise counsel to anyone who is troubled: tremble and do not sin, meditate and be still, offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord. Stop, think, do right, and patiently trust God. While this message is likely addressed to David’s opponents, I wonder if he wasn’t talking to himself here, as well.
Discontent was widespread. “Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’” (v. 6). Contextually, the good these people were seeking is the joy of material prosperity. David does not deny there is joy in that, but he had something far better: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety” (vv. 7-8).
Even when we have an abundance, that doesn’t begin to match the greater gladness of being right with God, of enjoying the surety of His favor. That sustains us at all times—times of much and little, times of good and bad. It alone will see us through the judgment.
Jesus made the same point: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Friend, can you, like David, lie down in peace at night? Are you confident of God’s approval, based on your faith in His Son and obedience to the gospel (Romans 8:16)? If not, don’t let another night come without doing something about it. Do whatever is lacking so that you can enjoy the greater gladness.