R/LADIES Week 3: Psalm 4

March 7, 2022  |  Diana Taggart

Suggested Listen: Poor Bishop Hooper, Psalm 4

Read Psalm 4 in its entirety.

Take a few deep breaths, then read it again slowly. Write down any words, phrases, or verses that stand out. Note any that stir up emotions or memories.

1  Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

You have given me relief when I was in distress.

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

2  O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?

How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah

3  But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;

the Lord hears when I call to him.

4  Be angry, and do not sin;

ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah

5  Offer right sacrifices,

and put your trust in the Lord.

6  There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”

7  You have put more joy in my heart

than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Take a moment to ponder and reflect on what stands out as you read. 

  • Do you have any emotional responses? 
  • What is the knee-jerk reaction to these words?
  • What portion of the text grips your eyes? Where do they pause?

Now, let’s walk through this together.


First, let’s talk about lament. As we read in last week’s study, Scripture allows us to see David move through his lamenting and how his lament shifts to remembering God as his shield, a mighty guard to trust and find rest in. 

One of the most powerful points of lament is that it’s not only a way to express the pain and suffering we face, but a tool to navigate those very real and hard emotions toward God. Lament prayer is designed to help us petition for God to help deliver us from our distress, to remember that God hears us.

And, as we’ll study Psalm 4, this can help us encourage others around us to do what only God can help us do: “be angry, and do not sin.” It’s both an individual lament that can be shared with others, and a psalm of confidence in God’s character.

A little context: Psalm 4 is traditionally believed to be penned by David as well, and is the first in our ordered books of Psalms that was instructed to be accompanied by music, it’s a song that’s filled with humility, wisdom for us fellow sinners, and hope in God’s care for us.

Vs 1 – 2

1  Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

You have given me relief when I was in distress.

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

2  O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?

How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah

There’s an urgency in the first verse’s petitions to God, “answer me/hear me” and “be gracious to me” that bookends a past reminder of God’s faithfulness. The writer or singer of this psalm reflects a reality that most of us have faced with suffering; desperation. And what follows, shows a deep desire and need for others around them to acknowledge their sin, not just to the writer, but to God himself in “how long shall my honor be turned to shame?”

How often are we in this similar place? When people around us cause harm to us, or others, and we desperately long for justice or retribution?  Think or journal about a time like this, how did you respond? What words filled your prayer?

Vs 3 – 4

3  But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;

the Lord hears when I call to him.

4  Be angry, and do not sin;

ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah

In response to the first two verses’ question, the writer offers a confident yet wisdom-filled warning; that God hears when they call and that the Lord sets apart the godly. This is the statement of someone knowing that it’s justice enough (bigger than a mere human “payback”) that God sets apart the godly and faithful for Himself, meanwhile dealing with the ungodly separately.

The verse is highlighting a connection that echoes back to God’s final plague threatened through Moses in Exodus 7, that “not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.

So we, collectively, as the writer encourages, we can be angry at the injustices and pain inflicted on us — but we are not called to sin because of it. We instead are to wait on the Lord for His rescue, grace, and justice to be had.

Let that sink in. Or as the Psalm encourages, “ponder in your own hearts…. and be silent.” How many times have we, impatiently, taken matters of justice into our own hands? Granted, there are many situations where that’s righteous and needed. However, there are too often times where instead of heeding to the Holy Spirit’s reminder that God’s covering over us will endure, we ignore. Journal any thoughts and repent, if needed, of any pride that has overshadowed trusting Jesus.

Vs 5 – 6

5  Offer right sacrifices,

and put your trust in the Lord.

6  There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”

Here, the writer takes us through the next piece of wise counsel; to offer sacrifices of righteousness and put our trust in the Lord. While the naysayers can quickly mock us, with their cynical arguments like in verse 6, we should instead look to God who has promised to bless us and show us how to walk in righteousness.

The second part of verse 6 seems to be referring and recalling back to the blessing that the Lord spoke to Moses at the end of Numbers 6:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Vs 7 – 8

7  You have put more joy in my heart

than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Following the previous verses, the writer displays what happens when they trust the Lord, and call on God for His face to shine upon them — joy, rest, peace, safety.

For the unbelieving hearts, or even for ourselves when we’re swept away by Earthly joys, the happiness from plenty of food, drink, pleasures, and possessions can be seemingly enough. But the Lord puts more joy in our hearts when we lean on Him in the bleakest of times. When we stay tethered to His everlasting promise of protection, healing, and hope.

It’s the kind of joy that never runs out. The kind that never ceases to bring us to our knees in thankfulness and humility. It’s the kind of ever-reaching joy and trust that helps us lie down to sleep in peace. How many sleepless nights have we all spent in anxious fear? In anger? In disappointment, in pain, and sadness? So many.

Instead, the psalmist is offering us a reminder that the Lord alone can make us dwell in safety. He alone is with us as we lament. And it’s that overflowing joy and trust and peace that can sustain us, and even help us look around to see who else can also use the encouragement toward life rather than ruin.

Heavenly Father, you are our keeper. You sustain us. You help us lie down in peace, and awake refreshed in your promises and mercies. Help us to speak these truths to our own troubled hearts when in dire places — and help us to be walking reminders and people of encouragement. Even to our enemies. Lord, you alone showed us how to perfectly love those most unlovable, and we ask for your Holy Spirit to work and will us into submission under you, God. To trust in your character that you’ve revealed by your Word. Help us believe you’ve set us apart, rescued us, and redeemed us. And forgive us when the trials of life and the lies of others speak louder than your voice.