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Psalm 4

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Evening Prayer of Trust in God
MT Intro
"For the choir director; on stringed instruments, a Psalm of David"
The Safety of the Faithful Prayer For Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(a Lament)
Evening Prayer for Help Evening Prayer
4:1 4:1 4:1 4:1 4:1
4:2-3 4:2-3 4:2 4:2 4:2
    4:3 4:3 4:3
4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4-5 4:4
        4:5
4:6-8 4:6-8 4:6-7 4:6-7 4:6
        4:7
    4:8 4:8 4:8

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

BRIEF OUTLINE

A. Opening prayer to God, Ps. 4:1

 

B. Address to opponents, Ps. 4:2-3

 

C. Commands for an appropriate response to God, Ps. 4:4-5 

 

D. Closing prayer to God, Ps. 4:6-8

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:1
 1Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
 You have relieved me in my distress;
 Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

4:1 Notice the imperatives used to implore God.

1. answer me — BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 27:7

2. be gracious to me — BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:16; 69:16

3. hear my prayer — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 17:6; 39:12

The psalmist expects God to hear and act (cf. Ps. 3:4; 6:8,9; 17:6; 86:7)! Prayer is not only request, it is fellowship! We need Him even more than our answered requests!

Notice how the psalmist characterizes God.

1. O God of my righteousness (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:5)

2. O God, reliever of my distress

There are so many personal pronouns in these first two verses! YHWH is the only source of "righteousness," which brings peace (both physically and spiritually)!

NASB, NKJV"relieved me"
NRSV, LXX"gave me room"
NJB"set me at large"
JPSOA, REB"freed me"

The Hebrew word (BDB 931, KB 1210, Hiphil perfect) is an idiom for a wide space (cf. Ps. 18:19), the opposite of "restriction" (i.e., oppression, tribulation, narrow straights, BDB 865, "distress"). Its metaphorical nature can be seen in Gen. 26:22; Deut. 33:20; Ps. 25:17; Isa. 54:2; 57:8.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:2-3
 2O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
 How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
 Selah.
 3But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
 The Lord hears when I call to Him.

4:2 The author develops the antagonistic setting by two questions directed to those who oppose.

1. reproach/shame — BDB 484

2. worthless/vain words — BDB 938

3. deception/lies — BDB 469

As God is called "my righteousness" in Ps. 4:1, now He is called on to reveal the attitude, motives, and actions of those who would do the psalmist harm.

NASB"my honor become a reproach"
NKJV"my glory to shame"
NJB"heavy of heart"

The NJB follows the LXX, which apparently translated a different Hebrew text than the MT. The UBS Text Project (p. 165) gives the MT a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

▣ "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2.

4:3 How should the opponents respond to the psalmist's questions of Ps. 4:2?

1. know (Qal imperative) that the Lord has set apart (LXX, "has done wondrous things for His holy one," cf. NJB, NEB) the godly man for Himself (UBS Text Project gives an "A" rating [very high probability])

2. the Lord hears the godly man (BDB 339) when he prays

YHWH knows and responds to His true followers. An attack on them is an attack on Him!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:4-5
 4Tremble, and do not sin;
 Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
 5Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
 And trust in the Lord.

4:4-5 There is a series of commands whereby the psalmist suggests how his opponents (i.e., "sons of men," Ps. 4:2) should live.

1. tremble — BDB 919, KB 1182, Qal imperative

2. do not sin — BDB 306, KB 305, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

3. meditate (lit. speak) — BDB 55, KB 65, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 77:6

4. be still — BDB 198, KB 226, Qal imperative

5. offer sacrifices — BDB 256, KB 261, Qal imperative

6. trust in YHWH — BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 37:3; 62:8

 

4:4 Number 2 above is quoted by Paul in Eph. 4:26 in combination with Deut. 24:15, as "be angry, and yet do not sin," which is from the LXX. The MT has "tremble" which denotes "fear" (cf. Isa. 32:11; Micah 7:17; Hab. 3:16), not anger.

▣ "be still" The word (BDB 198, KB 226) has several usages.

1. fear in battle — Exod. 15:14-16

2. speechless in judgment — 2 Sam. 2:9

3. silence in death — Ps. 31:17; 94:17; Jer. 48:2; 49:26

4. shocked silence at destruction — Jer. 25:37

5. silence of wisdom in an appropriate moment — Ps. 4:4; 62:5; 131:2; Amos 5:13

 

▣ "Selah" See notes at Psalm 3:2.

4:5 "trust in the Lord" This is a recurrent theme (BDB 105, KB 120).

1. a call to sinners — Ps. 4:5

2. a call to the faithful — Ps. 9:10; 32:10; 37:3,5; 40:3; 55:23; 56:4,11; 84:12; 91:2; 112:7; 115:11; 125:1; 143:8; Pro. 16:20; 29:25; Isa. 26:3-4

3. the king — Ps. 21:7; 25:2; 26:1; 28:7

4. the fathers — Ps. 22:4-5

5. O people — Ps. 62:8; 115:9

6. priests — Ps. 115:10

It is trust in YHWH and His word that brings hope (cf. Ps. 4:3), joy (cf. Ps. 4:7), and peace (cf. Ps. 4:8) in this fallen world.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 4:6-8
 6Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
 Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!
 7You have put gladness in my heart,
 More than when their grain and new wine abound.
 8In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
 For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

4:6-7 Like verse 2, verse 6 begins with a question which reflects the attitude, motives, and actions of the psalmist's opponents.

The answer is the request (Qal imperative) that YHWH "lift up the light of His countenance" (cf. Num. 6:26; Ps. 80:3,7,19). This is an idiom of Deity taking personal notice and extending mercy to His faithful (Ps. 4:5b) followers (cf. Ps. 27:1; Micah 7:8). YHWH has

1. put gladness in the psalmist's heart

2. put peace in the psalmist's heart

3. put safety in the psalmist's heart

In Num. 6:26 the verb "lift up," is נשא, BDB 669, but here it is נסה (KB 702). Apparently they are two forms of one root (cf. BDB 650, KB 702, NET Bible, p. 853, #6).

4:7 "heart" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART

▣ "new grain" The UBS Handbook (p. 47) mentions that the Hebrew MSS found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the LXX and Vulgate, add "and olive oil" after "grain" and before "new wine," which may come from Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 12:17; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51.

▣ "new wine" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol (fermentation) and Alcoholism (addiction)

4:8

NASB, NKJV
NRSV, REV,
NJB"For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety"
NET, JPSOA
(footnote)"For You, O Lord, keep me alone and secure"

The word "alone" (BDB 94) can modify

1. the Lord

2. the faithful follower who sleeps alone (i.e., no enemies present)

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who are "sons of men"? How are they characterized?

2. What are the different meanings of the Hebrew verb "know"?

3. Explain verse 4 in your own words.

4. Who are the "many" in verse 6?