Psalm 4 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Safety of the Faithful
To the [a]Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
4 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
[b]Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
2 How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has [c]set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The Lord will hear when I call to Him.
4 Be[d] angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
7 You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
At first this psalm seems simple, but is it? King David was a king. Yet much of his life he spent hounded and chased by other men, even those he had trusted, even one of his sons. So he prayed to God. He took his problems to Him and begged for His blessings.
With further study verse 2 appears to be ambiguous. Here is a portion of Gill’s exposition.
how long will ye turn my glory into shame? Meaning either God, who was his glory, Psalm 3:3; whom they reproached when they said there was no help for him in him; or his tongue, the instrument of praise, and the songs of praise he expressed by it, Psalm 7:8; which they jeered and scoffed at: or rather his royal glory and majesty, which they attempted to vail by casting him down from his excellency, by dethroning him, and setting up Absalom in his room. So the Jews endeavoured to turn the glory of Christ into shame, which lay in his being the only begotten of the Father; by denying his sonship, by condemning him to death; because he said he was the Son of God; and by mocking at him under that character on the cross; and also by their spitting upon, buffeting, and crucifying the Lord of glory; by reproaching his Gospel, ministers, and people; and by not acknowledging him as the Messiah, and submitting to his righteousness. (from here)
Depending upon the translation, the emphasis is either upon David’s reputation or the fact that God’s cares about him. Gill’s commentary puts the focus on the latter, speaking of David as a type that presaged the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Verse 3 confirms that David seeks to serve God, not himself.
What does this Psalm mean for us? Even though he was a king, David told those who would follow him to fear God, not Him. Now he tells us to be faithful to God.
Verse 4 also poses translation differences. Some use the phrase “be angry”. Others use the words “tremble” and “fear”. Some translations say to “stand in awe”. All tell us not to sin. All tell us to exercise self control. To think about, to meditate upon, to commune with God. To be still before Him. This I think is prayer.
In prayer David remembered to offer his life, his heart, to God. In prayer David put his trust in God. In prayer David remembered that only God can bless us. In prayer David asked for our Lord to smile upon him. In prayer David remembered and thanked God.
It was in prayer that David obtained peace and rest from our Lord.
Isaiah 57:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 “I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord,
“And I will heal him.”
20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21 “There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.”