Psalm 4#sn Psalm 4. The psalmist asks God to hear his prayer, expresses his confidence that the Lord will intervene, and urges his enemies to change their ways and place their trust in God. He concludes with another prayer for divine intervention and again affirms his absolute confidence in God’s protection.
For the music director, to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm of David.
1 When I call out, answer me,
O God who vindicates me!#tn Heb “God of my righteousness.”
Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place.#tn Heb “in distress (or “a narrow place”) you make (a place) large for me.” The function of the Hebrew perfect verbal form here is uncertain. The translation above assumes that the psalmist is expressing his certitude and confidence that God will intervene. The psalmist is so confident of God’s positive response to his prayer, he can describe God’s deliverance as if it had already happened. Such confidence is consistent with the mood of the psalm (vv. 3, 8). Another option is to take the perfects as precative, expressing a wish or request (“lead me”). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.
Have mercy on me#tn Or “show me favor.” and respond to#tn Heb “hear.” my prayer!
2 You men,#tn Heb “sons of man.” how long will you try to turn my honor into shame?#tn Heb “how long my honor to shame?”
How long#tn The interrogative construction עַד־מֶה (’ad-meh, “how long?”), is understood by ellipsis in the second line. will you love what is worthless#tn Heb “emptiness.”
and search for what is deceptive?#tn Heb “a lie.” Some see the metonymic language of v. 2b (“emptiness, lie”) as referring to idols or false gods. However, there is no solid immediate contextual evidence for such an interpretation. It is more likely that the psalmist addresses those who threaten him (see v. 1) and refers in a general way to their sinful lifestyle. (See R. Mosis, TDOT 7:121.) The two terms allude to the fact that sinful behavior is ultimately fruitless and self-destructive. (Selah)
3 Realize that#tn Heb “and know that.” the Lord shows the godly special favor;#tn Heb “that the Lord sets apart a faithful one for himself.” The psalmist states a general principle, though the singular form and the parallel line indicate he has himself in mind as the representative godly person. A חָסִיד (khasid; here translated as “the godly”) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 12:1; 18:25; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).
the Lord responds#tn Heb “hears.” when I cry out to him.
4 Tremble with fear and do not sin!#sn The psalmist warns his enemies that they need to tremble with fear before God and repudiate their sinful ways.
Meditate as you lie in bed, and repent of your ways!#tn Heb “say in your heart(s) on your bed(s) and wail/lament.” The verb דֹמּוּ (dommu) is understood as a form of דָמָם (“wail, lament”) in sorrow and repentance. Another option is to take the verb from II דָמָם (damam, “be quiet”); cf. NIV, NRSV “be silent.” (Selah)
5 Offer the prescribed sacrifices#tn Or “proper, right.” The phrase also occurs in Deut 33:19 and Ps 51:19.
and trust in the Lord!#sn Trust in the Lord. The psalmist urges his enemies to make peace with God and become his followers.
6 Many say, “Who can show us anything good?”
Smile upon us, Lord!#tn Heb “lift up upon us the light of your face, Lord.” The verb נסה is apparently an alternate form of נשׂא, “lift up.” See GKC 217 §76.b. The idiom “light of your face” probably refers to a smile (see Eccl 8:1), which in turn suggests favor and blessing (see Num 6:25; Pss 31:16; 44:3; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19; 89:15; Dan 9:17).sn Smile upon us. Though many are discouraged, the psalmist asks the Lord to intervene and transform the situation.
7 You make me happier#tn Heb “you place joy in my heart.” Another option is to understand the perfect verbal form as indicating certitude, “you will make me happier.”
than those who have abundant grain and wine.#tn Heb “from (i.e., more than) the time (when) their grain and their wine are abundant.”
8 I will lie down and sleep peacefully,#tn Heb “in peace at the same time I will lie down and sleep.”
for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.#tn Heb “for you, Lord, solitarily, securely make me dwell.” The translation understands לְבָדָד (lÿvadad) as modifying the verb; the Lord keeps enemies away from the psalmist so that he is safe and secure. Another option is to take לְבָדָד with what precedes and translate, “you alone, Lord, make me secure.”