Psalm 4

Psalm 4[a]

Joyful Confidence in God

1 For the director.[b] With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

2 When I call upon you, answer me, O God,
you who uphold my rights.
When I was in distress, you set me free;
have pity on me and listen to my prayer.
3 How long[c] will you people turn my glory into shame,
cherishing what is worthless and pursuing what is false? Selah
4 Remember that the Lord wonderfully favors those who are faithful,[d]
and the Lord listens when I call out to him.
5 [e]When you are angry, be careful not to sin;
reflect in silence
as you lie upon your beds. Selah
6 Offer worthy sacrifices
and place your trust in the Lord.
7 Many exclaim, “Who will show us better times!
Let the light of your face shine on[f] us, O Lord!”
8 You have granted my heart[g] greater joy
than others experience when grain and wine abound.
9 In peace I lie down and sleep,
for only with your help, O Lord,
can I rest secure.


  1. Psalm 4:1 Those who are well established in life delude themselves by seeking happiness in riches and worldly vanities. The psalmist, rich in divine trust and joy, invites them to discover the price of God’s friendship: “the light of [God’s] face.” This is an evening prayer (see vv. 5, 9), filled with desire for God; Christians move beyond its earthly perspectives. Prayer brings openness of heart, assurance of God’s help, faith, divine approval, joy, and peace.
  2. Psalm 4:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 4:3 How long . . . ?: see note on Ps 6:4.
  4. Psalm 4:4 Those who are faithful: one of several words (sometimes translated as “saints”) for the People of God, who should be faithful to him (see Pss 12:2; 31:24; 32:6; 34:10). See also notes on Pss 16:3; 34:10.
  5. Psalm 4:5 One must fear to offend God but rather pray to him in the calm and silence of adoration. When you are angry be careful not to sin: these words are cited by Paul in Eph 4:26 with the sense that if anger takes hold of you, let it not lead you to act evilly—for there is such a thing as righteous anger (see Mk 3:5). Beds: can refer to the spot where one prostrated oneself to pray (see Ps 95:6; Sir 50:17), which is also suggested by the presence of the term Selah, or pause.
  6. Psalm 4:7 Face shine on: this image of benevolence and contentment (see Num 6:25; Prov 16:15; Dan 9:17) occurs frequently in the Psalter (see Pss 31:17; 67:2; 119:135; and especially note on Ps 13:2). The reading in the Septuagint and Vulgate is: “The light of your countenance, O Lord, is signed [or: imprinted] on us.” It was interpreted as referring to the soul created in the image of God and regenerated by the baptismal character that makes a Christian a child of light (see Lk 16:8; Jn 12:36; 1 Thes 5:5; Eph 5:8).
  7. Psalm 4:8 Heart: the biblical center of the human spirit, which harbors a person’s thoughts and emotions and gives rise to action.

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