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(Psalm 4) The Peace and Joy of a Believer

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Psalm 4 is a confidence (Lament) Psalm describing the struggle of David. He boldly proclaims his blessing and confidence in the Lord while exhorting unbelievers to trust in the Lord. He proclaims of his peace and joy that is found in Yahweh.

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Psalm 4 ESV
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. 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.
Type: Lament Psalm (though Lament in confidence).
by numerous authors have been noticed it as properly being categorized as a Lament Psalm. However, in that regard it is distinct because it is as much a praise Psalm. This is because its content is as much about confidence in God as it is in Lamenting about suffering.
by numerous authors have been noticed it as properly being categorized as a Lament Psalm. However, in that regard it is distinct because it is as much a praise Psalm. This is because its content is as much about confidence in God as it is in Lamenting about suffering.
Many Psalms we do not know a whole lot about. The background story, when it was written, sometimes even who wrote is unknown.
by numerous authors have been noticed as properly being a Lament Psalm. That is
Many Psalms we do not know a whole lot about. The background story, when it was written, sometimes even who wrote is unknown.
- Now understand, we also should interpret in light of the historical background and the grammatical context of a passage.
- At the same time, we cannot interpret what we do not know.
1. Sometimes it requires a best choice of options rather than a 100% confidence vote. I am 70% sure it is this, but I can’t be for certain.
2. Other times we can avoid making a choice because it does not drastically effect the meaning of the text.
These are the kind of decisions that encompass a good study of Scripture.
is one of those places that require this kind of discernment.
Background Information: There is no clear historical background for this Psalm.
a. It is possible it is related to the background of (Flight from Absalom). This is because describes the shame of David's honor and follows .
See Waltke's Notes. However, there is no discernable historical occasion that can be verified. We only know, based on the prescript, that this is a Psalm written by David.
b. Others have held this is a plea over a draught. This is because no enemy is mentioned, “good” could be an agriculture term, and uses agricultural terms.See Waltke's Notes.
However, there is no discernible historical occasion that can be verified. We only know, based on the prescript, that this is a Psalm written by David.
If I had to shoot from the hip, I would probably say it is related with a 50-60% confidence as I say that. But admittedly, there is no way to know for sure.
If I had to shoot from the hip, I would probably say it is related with a 50-60% confidence as I say that. But admittedly, there is no way to know for sure.
Structure: The structure of this Psalm is debated.
- Some believe that 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 each make up a Stanza Poem.
- Others believe it is a Chiasm. I believe this must be a Chiasm because would be out of place given the structure above. However, the balance of a Chiasm is off in having 2 verses. Which is why there is a debate in structure. There are numerous repeated terms (“doublets”) within this Psalm.
"The pairs of terms serve a variety of poetic purposes, such as inclusio (a, g, and possibly c), contrast between the good and the wicked (d and e), and emphasis (f)." (WBC)
CAVEAT: Since this is our first look at a Chiasm Psalm, I want to walk us through the process of of understanding that kind of Psalm.
- Understand, my hope is that we will think about David’s exaltation of God in a devotional matter.
- But my chief concern tonight is to model and explain how to interpret this kind of poem.
We cannot fully appreciate the Psalms until we understand how it says it.
In fact, Bruce Waltke would say
“you do not understand any passage until you understand how the passage says it”.
Relational Exhortation:
I understand that much of this discussion may not be the most interesting or even devotional.
It is not the kind of lesson that is going to help you be more unconditional loving father or mother tomorrow.
So why go through it?
The Psalms is about sharing a the common human experience’s of
- fear
- love
- joy
- sorrow
- suffering
in light of God.
When we understand the way an author wrote a Psalm it helps us truly understand what the Psalmist is saying.
That skill is something that will give you depth to your understanding of the Psalms, ...which in turn impacts your heart, ... which in turn uplifts your soul.
The lesson tonight is to a give you a skill that will help you be:
- comforted when you are struggling,
- abound in joy when you are blessed,
- and to awe at God as you behold who he is.
My hope over time is not simply to tell you about another passage in the Psalms,
but to help you get into the Psalms in a way that allows you to personally be able to relate to them.
If years from now you open up your Bible to the Psalms and you rejoice, you cry, you are comforted because of what you learn through this series.
Then I have accomplished exactly what I have set out to do.
This lesson is apart of that larger goal.
Lets start by asking,
Lets start by asking,
What is a Chiasm?
Background Information: There is no clear historical background for this Psalm. It is possible it is related to the background of (Flight from Absalom). This is because describes the shame of David's honor. However, there is no discernable historical occasion that can be verified. We only know, based on the prescript, that this is a Psalm written by David.
(Slide 2)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Outline:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>[follow the worksheet - Guide to Interpreting the Psalms]
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
- Problems
Stanza - What about ? It would seem odd to place that there.
Chiasm - Why does the final prayer () not match the count in ?
I believe this must be a Chiasm because would be out of place given the structure above.
However, the balance of a Chiasm is off in having 2 verses.
Which is why there is a debate in the structure.
(Slide 4)
I am ok with the extra verse because it is not as imbalanced as it might seen. In both you have essentially 3 identifiable clauses.
Psalm 4:1 ESV
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!
Psalm 4:7–8 ESV
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.
Personal Note: The doublets in this Psalm have no significance. They are simply repeated words.
Non-Uniformed use of repeated terms does not support either view, but may indicate structure. However, until I can understand why the terms are repeated, it cannot support any structural decisions.
The Structure of :
(Slide 5)
Once we have identified this Psalm as a Chiasm,
How does this change how we understand the main point of the Passage?
The main point is found in .
Psalm 4:3–5 ESV
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.
Let’s finish with the concluding verse of the Psalm.
(Slide 6)
Psalm 4:8 ESV
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
As we go to prayer, let’s meditate on the safety and peace the God can provide in our lives.
(End of Lesson 1)
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This Psalm is an appeal and confidence in God during a trial in David's life.
We are not entirely sure what the situation is.
- Some have thought this may be another Psalm related to Absalom's rebellion.
- Other's have proposed this is a Psalm related to a drought.
Whatever the occasion is, David was faced with an embarrassing trial.
Have you ever been faced with an embarrassing trial?
Have you ever been faced with an embarrassing trial?
Often we segregate embarrassing trials to elementary school or high school days.
Probably, most of us can remember a day when something happened at school and the last thing I want to do is get up and go back to school the next day.
Often we segregate embarising trials to elementary school or high school days. Probably, most of us can remember a day when something happened at school and the last thing I want to do is get up and go back to school the next day.
We may segregate embarrassing trials to our primary school days, but the reality is that many of us face embarrassing trials well after high-school.
- Perhaps it is a mistake we make at work.
- Perhaps it is the fact that our kids do not always follow what we taught them.
- Perhaps we realize in our bold-headed pride we have sinned against someone.
And in some of those cases, someone desires to rub our embarrassing trial in our face.
Have you ever been in the place where you are struggling because of an embarrassing trial and you know there is someone who is going to rub it in your face?
Perhaps you were not in high school,
but like a high school-er, the next morning, you did not want to get out of bed.
This is what David felt like. There was something that shamed him, and the wicked one’s were rubbing it in his face.
David writes a Psalm that boasts of God in the midst of this kind of struggle, but also challenges unbelievers to a prosperous living found only in God.
This Psalm is a chiasm. I have provided a detailed outline in your handout describing that structure.
If you remember from last week, I explained that this Psalm is a chiasm. I have provided a detailed outline in your handout describing that structure.
- Remember, the key to a Chiasm is to find the key.
- It places a central message at the center of the Psalm and then provides related thought in parallels, flowing out from that central thought.
What does David tell his enemies who are shaming him?
They ought to know that God hears the prayers of the Godly.
AND
Likewise,

Proposition: Each one of us ought to trust that God hears our prayers.

Transition: How do we know God hears our our prayers?

tells what true worshipers are like.

First, notice that the believers have a relationship with God.
Psalm 4:3 ESV
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
God has set His people apart from the ungodly and he hears our prayers.
-That is a simple statement, but what a profound statement.
When I make a request to God, through the work of Christ, God hears my prayers.
- That alone should boast our confidence in any situation.
- On Sunday we read which makes exactly this point. What trial is outside our ability to call upon God? Because he hears our prayers we can have confidence that no trial can ever over take us.
At the same time that David boasts that God hears our prayers,
he also tells us what separates the ungodly unbeliever from the consecrated believer.
How is related to the purpose of the Psalm?
In what way are the Godly separated from ungodly?
We are told in that true believers who are separated unto God, have the following character traits.
Psalm 4:4–5 ESV
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.
So what are the traits?
a. Fear the Lord.
Our ESV and NKJV translates this “Be angry”.
Alternatively,
- the KJV translates “Stand in Awe”
- and the NASB translates “Tremble”.
- NET: “Tremble with Fear”
NET Note: “The psalmist warns his enemies that they need to tremble with fear before God and repudiate their sinful ways.”
This word is better translated the idea of tremble.
“Tremble and do not sin”.
Trembling has the idea of fear, we ought to tremble before God and give him reverence.
Trembling has the idea of fear, we ought to tremble before God and give him reverence.
b. Obey God.
Do not sin.
c. Meditate on the Lord.
“ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”
d. Obey the Sacrificial system.
“Offer right sacrifices”
Now remember, we do not offer sacrifices like in David’s day.
- David’s day looked for to the all sufficient sacrifice of Christ.
- Thus, we look back at the sacrifice having no need for any other. We look back upon Christ.
e. Trust in the Lord.
“and put your trust in the LORD. ”
What do we put our trust in?
- Ourselves?
Psalm 20:7 ESV
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
The point, the don’t trust in what they can accomplish, but in God.
- or God!
The Godly are consecrated because they trust in God.
These are traits of someone who is separated, consecrated to God.
Now,
Why is Psalm 4:4-5 relevant to the prayer?
These are the people who God hears.
tells us God hears His people and these are the people who are His.
Are you one of these people?
Or is there an area that I miss the mark on?
Is there an area that I ought to repent of?
Now, Notice the Parallel in and which describes

The Depravity of God’s Enemies.

The Godly are separated by certain traits from the ungodly. Likewise, the Ungodly are separated from the godly by certain traits.
These traits make the enemies of God someone who God does not answer their prayers.
So we have to ask the question again, what separates the godly from the ungodly?

The Depravity of God’s Enmies.

What are the traits of the ungodly?
B. The Depravity of God's Enemies. ()
Psalm 4:2 ESV
2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
1) The Shaming of David.
1) The Shaming of David.
“honor be turned into shame”
The wicked are often really good at bringing down others, but they are not very good at loving others.
2) The Vain Words of God's Enemies.
“Love vain words”
Vain - empty.
If you read many of these popular self-help books, they sometimes make some good observations. But their solutions are empty.
Self-Coaching by Dr. Joseph Luciani
“Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts and our interpretations of events greatly influence our moods. Therapists teach clients to listen to their negative internal dialogs and to use less depressive "self-talk.“ (Description from Amazon)
Now, I recognize that their are physical conditions that can make us feel depressed. Often, the first step in dealing with a depression is to rule out any physical issues that might be contributing to the issue.
But what this book is tailored to is to fix depression that is caused principally by our thinking.
Why is this vain talk?
Because it describes the solution as being just inside us.
What this ignores is two factors;
- Sometimes people are depressed because of horrific suffering. It ignores their pain.
- It ignores the real hope for someone who is suffering. Principally, God. God is our refuge.
So what this book and millions like offer is empty, hopeless help.
Even if it appears to work, it only works until the next struggle that overwhelms us.
It is empty lacking the true hope and help that is available, the hope and help that is only found in God.
3) The Search for Lies.
This is the example of vain words that unbelievers are listening too.
3) The Search for Lies.
“seek after lies”
Everyone of us who are believers who have known someone who have yearned after lies rather than truth.
Whether it is ways to justify their sin
“You don’t understand my situation”,
or ways to justify rejecting God,
such as the belief of evolution,
They seek after lies rather than the truth.
B. The Depravity of God's Enemies. ()
Psalm 4:6 ESV
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
1) Unbelievers Question Goodness.
1) Unbelievers Question Goodness.
1) Unbelievers Question Goodness.
Unbelievers question if there is anything good.
It is amazing how cynical unbelievers are.
Whether scoffing at whether God is truly Good,
or doubting the sincere desire of Christians Heart,
the ungodly question whether there is anyone who does Good in the world.
- To speak of Good and goodness to unbelievers is often equivalent to setting a bomb off in that conversation.
Unbelievers question true Goodness.
2) David pleads for them to See God.
There biggest problem and their biggest need is that hey have not glimpsed who God is. If they did, they would behold that God is good, trustworthy, and righteous.
These are the people who God does not hear. Because these are not the Godly separated to God, God does not hear their prayers.
Now notice the confidence of David because He is one of those godly, consecrated to God. He is one of the people who God hear his prayers.
A. Prayer to God. ()
Psalm 4:1 ESV
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!
1) David's Call to God.
“Answer me when I call”
1) David's Call to God.
2) David's Praise of God.
David praises God by calling him:
- “God of my righteousness”

A. Prayer to God. ()

David recognized, as we would, that he is a sinner, and any righteousness that is credited to his account is from God.
- “You have given me relief when I was in distress.”
- This word translated “relief” is difficult to bring into English.
- Colloquial expression meaning that God has enlarged (blessed) and relieved. (TWOT) It means both.
3) David's Request.
3) David's Request.
“Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! ”
David called upon God’s grace, the unmerited favor and concern of God.
David then ends his prayer with praise.
A. Praise to God. ()
1) God Placed Exceeding Joy in David's Heart.
Psalm 4:7 ESV
7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
The imagery here is of a grain silo overflowing with grain, a storehouse filled with jars of wine.
In the time of distress, David’s Joy was turned into profound joy.
Now tell me what else in this world could change a shameful trial that is beyond our own control into joy.
Only God could do that.
2) God Provides Peace for David.
Psalm 4:8 ESV
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Often real distress is combined with insomnia.
Outline:
Whether it is
- fear,
- physical pain,
- or emotional pain,
It often keeps us up at night.
When there is nothing else that can keep us safe,
God alone keeps us safe and allows us to sleep in peace.
God provided peace for David.
Conclusion/Application:
We do not know why David was in distress. But whatever it was, it was beyond his control. So much so that he cried out to God by writing and praying a Psalm.
He contrasted the unbeliever with the believer. He prayed in confidence knowing he was one of God’s people.
He was confident that:
- His righteousness was based on God alone, not the attempts by unbelievers to shame him.
We also can rejoice in God because our righteousness is based in God’s promises of Christ, and not our own.
-In His distress,
God blessed and relieved him.
God blessed and relieved him.
When he should have been struggling, God was blessing and relieving him.
When he should have been struggling, God was blessing and relieving him.
God also can be refuge. Some days we may not want to face our trials,
but remember that thought you may be suffering now,
there is a day in which you will also be able to say God has blessed and relieved me during my trials.
- He was confident that God would be gracious, that is he would receive the unmerited favor and concern of God.
Be confident that God will send his grace to each one of us during our times of need.
He was confident that God would be gracious, that is he would receive the unmerited favor and concern of God.
- Because he was confident in God's blessing and grace, He also was confident that God would give him joy and peace.
Are you hurting, and looking for joy and peace?
Take refuge in your God as David did, knowing that God alone makes you lie down in safety.
CAVEAT: Now, I recognize that there are times in this life when we might struggle with seeing God’s grace, having joy, peace, and security because we are still in this trial.
Understand, even if this trial persists unto death, there will be a day when we can say God has given us grace in this distress, returned our joy, given us peace, and ultimately eternal security.
How do I know that, God hears our prayers.
- Finally, David was confident God would answer his prayers.
He said God hears the prayers of His people and how much more does that include those who are believers in the name and work of Christ.
As we take up many prayer requests today, let us rejoice in peace, knowing that God hears our prayers.
Outline:
Outline:
Because he was confident in God's blessing and grace, He also was confident that God would give him joy and peace.
Today, as believers, be confident in your God.
Outline:
your righteousness also is based on God alone.
The same God that
Outline:
A. Prayer to God. ()

1) David's Call to God.

2) David's Praise of God.

3) David's Request.

B. The Depravity of God's Enemies. ()

1) The Shaming of David.

2) The Vain Words of God's Enemies.

3) The Search for Lies.

C. The Exhortation to Worship. ()

1) Believers Have a Relationship with God. ()

2) Humanity Should Devoted to God. ()

a. Fear the Lord.

b. Obey God.

c. Meditate on the Lord.

d. Obey the Sacrificial system.

e. Trust in the Lord.

B. The Depravity of God's Enemies. ()

1) Unbelievers Question Goodness.

2) David pleads for them to See God.

A. Praise to God. ()

1) God Placed Exceeding Joy in David's Heart.

2) God Provides Peace for David.

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