One of the most consistent patterns I’ve noticed in my 10-year study of the Psalms is this: often the psalmists begin in a place of great difficulty, stress, and doubt, but at the end of the Psalm, they are rejoicing in ecstatic worship – even though their circumstances haven’t changed!

Psalm 4 is a great example.

Psalm 4 is described in the Bible as “an evening prayer of trust in God.” It was likely composed as a response to nighttime anxiety as something that could be recited at night to center one’s mind on God’s goodness and sovereignty.

I find it reassuring that this beautiful Psalm was composed in a time of great anxiety for David.

The situation at hand seems to be on in which David’s enemies, and perhaps even his own people, are slandering David’s reputation, speaking evil of him, and turning against the LORD: “How long, O sons of men, will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?” (vs. 2).

As someone who has led large organizations (I was a high school principal for a time), I can deeply relate to how David feels. When you’re a leader and rumors and slander are rising up against you, it can feel like the walls are caving in, like the ground is shaking under your feet. “What is happening?” I remember thinking. It’s one of the most dreadful feelings I’ve ever experienced.

In the midst of this ominous situation, how does David respond?

He does two things: 1.) he declares what he knows to be true about God (this is a common go-to for David), and 2.) he intercedes for himself and his people. 

1.) David declares what he knows to be true about God. 

When our hearts are plagued with dread and doubt, we sometimes need to declare what we know in our mind to be true, even when we don’t feel it.

In verse 3, David declares to the people who were slandering him (and maybe even to himself)“But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.” 

The truth in that verse alone (Psalm 4:3) is worth meditating on for hours.

In verses 4-5, he seems to be preaching to himself and others about what to do when they’re being attacked and slandered: “Be angry, but do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the LORD.” Pretty sound advice!

Then David’s most powerful declaration comes in the final verse: “For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” 

2.) David intercedes for himself AND for the people of God.

What I love about David’s prayers is that he often intercedes not only for himself, but for the people of God as a whole at the same time. This habit shows David’s profound concern for God’s glory in all situations.

We see this in verse 6 of Psalm 4: “Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD!”

Here are some examples from other Psalms:

“Your blessing be upon Your people forever.” (Psalm 3:8) David prayed this when his people were rebelling against him

“Let all who trust in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. May you shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Psalm 5:11-12)

“Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 25:22

And what is the result of David’s theological declarations and prayers? By the end of the Psalm, he is confident, joyful and calm: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wind abound” (vs. 7).

Through declaring what he knows to be true about God and interceding for himself and God’s people as a whole, David quickly (in just a few verses!) moves from a situation of deep angst to a state of profound peace in which he can sleep with ease.

May it be the same with all of us.

For this Psalm, I wanted to create a soothing arrangement appropriate for a reassuring, night-time-listening experience. I wrote the guitar part with pensive, melancholy chords and added a brooding violin part, then allowed both to open up in the choruses of the song to something more hopeful, representing a peace of mind that David had fought for and won. 

I wanted the end of the song to feel like upbeat, joyous worship, ending with a sense of peace and resolution.

I hope this analysis and this song blesses you!

Shane