To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
 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!
 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah  But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah  Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”  You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
The other day, I was eating lunch with a friend of mine. He made a very interesting observation about the book of Psalms that I thought I would pass on to you. He said that, while much of the Old Testament records God speaking through prophets to men, the Psalms record the response of faithful men to God.
My subject today is Psalm 4. The title of today's talk is “The Lord Alone Makes Me Dwell in Safety.”
In the case of our Psalm today, the Psalmist is praying to God in the middle of opposition. He’s facing adversaries. David’s accuser remains unnamed. From the text, it can be gathered that this opposition may have gone on for some time, because David asks “how long” it will go on in verse 2. But despite this opposition, David remains completely confident in his God. David reminds his adversaries, and reminds himself of God’s faithfulness.
One commentator titled the Psalm “An Evening Prayer.” Another gave it the title “An Evening Hymn.” You’ll notice the Psalm’s inspired heading: To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. This particular Psalm was used as a part of gathered worship, perhaps in the evening, given the wording of verse 8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep.”
Today, I’m going to draw four brief observations from the text of our Psalm. First, David indicates the source of his confidence: the Lord who answers prayer. Second, David directs his adversaries (and reminds himself) to trust in the Lord. Third, David prays a short prayer of confidence in God. And fourth, David lies down to rest in safety.
1. David indicates the source of his confidence: the Lord who answers prayer.
So the first observation we can make from Psalm 4 is that the source of David’s confidence is the Lord who answers prayer. In verses one through three, David speaks first to God and then to his adversaries.
When he addresses God, he calls him, “God of my righteousness.” This means that David understands God to be the source of his righteousness. God is not only the source, though. David knows that God is the source of his righteousness, the one who keeps him righteous, the one who judges his righteousness, and the one who rewards his righteousness.
Is God the source of your righteousness? He is certainly the judge. The fact is that you and I both have an awareness of God’s law. Even if you’ve never read the Bible, Romans 1 tells us that nature itself testifies to God’s divine Nature and Romans 2 indicates that the Gentiles have the work of the law written on their hearts and their conscience bears witness to that. Your conscience—the sense you have of right and wrong—bears witness to you that God is righteous and that he has a standard and that you violate that standard.
But back to my question, Is God the source of your righteousness? You see, a person can either try to justify himself before God or rely on Jesus Christ to save him! Jesus Christ was the only who lived a perfectly righteous life—he’s the only one who meets God’s standard. You and I have broken God’s law. But Christ came to call you to trust in Him for salvation. Do not try to rely on your own good works. Do not try to rely on yourself. Trust in Jesus Christ and he will save your from your unrighteousness, and cover you in his own righteousness. The faithful request is “be gracious to me” or “have mercy on me,” just as David prays in verse one.
David also begs of the Lord to hear his prayer and answer him. David is confident that God will answer him, too. He gives reason for this confidence when he writes, “You have given me relief (past tense) when I was in distress.” God has answered his prayer in the past, and there is no reason he will not do the same here.
At this point David turns to his enemy. The adversary could be Saul, or perhaps Absalom, but the psalm leaves that unanswered. David asks “how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” These men have been lying and spreading falsehoods about David. He asks, “how long will you do this?”
The question itself offers an opportunity for repentance. I could ask you the same thing, if you’re one of the people who “love vain words and seek after lies.” How long will you do that? God is giving you an opportunity even now to repent of your sin and trust him.
But for those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their righteousness, David reminds us, “the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” Once again, this is the reason for David’s confidence. The Lord hears when he calls. If you’re a believer, this should comfort you. God has set you apart for himself. He hears you when you call.
2. David directs his adversaries (and reminds himself) to trust in the Lord.
The second observation we can make from Psalm 4 is that David directs his adversaries (and reminds himself) to trust in the Lord. In verses four and five, David counsels his hearers to “be angry” or “tremble” and do not sin—to contemplate in their hearts on their beds. This is a clear call to consider one’s own sin. Remember that this is a song for gathered worship. In this Psalm, the Holy Spirit is calling you to search your heart. Are you one who loves vain words and chases after lies? Or are you one who puts your trust in the Lord?
David directs his adversaries to offer right sacrifices. In his day, they offered spotless lambs on the altar in the temple. We too have a spotless lamb who has been offered for us. Put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today!
3. David prays a short prayer of confidence in God.
The third observation we can make from Psalm 4 is that David prays a short prayer of confidence in God.
In verse 6, David acknowledges that there are many who pray to the Lord, saying, “Who will show us some good?” as though no one has—as though God has not provided for them. My friend reminded me the other day that God provides for us meticulously. He provides for us in every detail. You have food today because God provided it to you, through this facility. You have air conditioning today because God provided it to you. You are alive right now, because God has given it to you.
Jesus asks us in Matthew 6:25 and following, why we worry about food and clothing and so many other things. God feeds the birds every day. He clothes the grass and lilies of the field. Why then do we worry? Why then do you worry? Trust God. Psalm 34:9-10 say that those who fear God lack nothing. Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. God provides. He has already and he will again.
David then continues his prayer: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Food and drink are good things. A meal with family—say over thanksgiving—is a joyful occasion. For farmers an abounding harvest of grain and wine is a joyful occasion. But David makes it clear here that the joy that God brings is greater than that. God brings the joy of justification. Those who repent can be saved, can be made righteous, and can be adopted. That’s what he’s calling you to do.
4. David lies down to rest in safety.
The fourth observation we can make from Psalm 4 is that David lies down to rest in safety. This point is short, but it is the culmination and even the conclusion of this psalm.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
There is no greater act of trusting God than to lie down and sleep, knowing that God is sovereign—knowing that God is keeping you safe. The fact is for David, and for all of those who repent of their sins, we can lie down in safety and we can be confident that we are safe—that God is protecting us. I remember a quote, unfortunately I don't remember the source, that even though our enemies may kill us, they cannot hurt us, if we are in God’s hands.
So I exhort you to trust God. He is the one who makes you dwell in safety. If you do not know him, please talk to me afterward. I, or some of these ladies from Beechwood Baptist would love to talk to you about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are a believer in Christ, you can be confident to rest in that today. Trust the Lord and take Joy in him and his Word.
Let me pray with you.
Preached 21 August 2009 at Springhurst Health & Rehab.