Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the Lord.
Many, Lord, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4 (NIV)
Peace and security are the dominant theme of the fourth Psalm. Nations will spend billions on defence budgets, individuals will invest in alarm systems for their property or insurance schemes to safeguard their finances. Our desire for security is perfectly natural but the brutal truth is that in this world any security we have is strictly limited and by no means guaranteed.
David is probably in very similar circumstances to the previous Psalm and again he calls upon God in his distress. Whatever prayer is, the Psalms remind us it isn’t a magic wand which once waved will make all our problems disappear into thin air and never return.
In this Psalm David describes God as ‘righteous’ or ‘faithful’, that knowledge of God doesn’t stop the hurt or the questions but it is this assessment of God’s character that gives him long term hope that God will vindicate him.
We know that in God’s time he sent ‘great David’s greater son’ (James Montgomery) to share our life and Jesus is still Immanuel, still ‘God-with-us’, present in our lives through the gift of his Holy Spirit. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and that is why even in the midst of seeming disastrous circumstances we can, like David, trust in the Lord (verse 5) and offer the sacrifices of the righteous, living lives which reflect his justice and joy.