“There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:6-8
The knowledge, love, and trust that King David had for his Lord guided his thoughts, challenged his desires, and fueled his prayers. We find this true many places in the psalms and see this wonderfully throughout the entirety of Psalm 4. In fact, this is clear as David springboards right in in verse 1, as he begins by beseeching God to hear him when he calls. He knew that God, and God alone, was his true help and shield (Psalm 54:4, Psalm 3:3, Proverbs 30:5). He knew that God was the one who came to his aid and brought him relief when David was in distress (Psalm 46:1). David had Spirit wrought awareness that as a sinner he had no righteousness of any value of his own.
Therefore, he rightly prayed to the holy and living God, who is his righteousness, and pleaded His mercy to hear his prayer. David had the right view and right approach to his Lord, didn’t he? Not only is God righteous Himself, but He is also the one who, by divine grace, worked in David and made him righteous in His sight. And so, David bowed before Him, called out to Him, asking for God to both hear and answer his prayers, not according to his merit, but according to divine mercy. Just two verses later, in verse 3, we see how David was also confident that God would hear him when he called.
Beloved, we are like David – sinful, unclean, meritless before the holy God. But God in His mercy has brought us up and out of the pit, washed us, and has given us an alien righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has clothed us with the righteousness of Christ. He has made us new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, like David, we who once raged against God, now, willingly and lovingly come before Him, pleading His mercies in prayer, being deeply thankful that He hears us. Praise Him!
Notice how David speaks of his enduring faith and trust in God in the midst of his distress. He tells of his meditation and faith in the night in verses 4 and 8. After calling God’s people to be angry, yet not sin in our anger, he says, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” There is never a time when we shouldn’t trust the Lord. There is never a time when we can be justified in sinning in our anger. Rather, a good remedy against sin is standing in reverent awe of our covenant God. A good remedy is godly meditation upon God and His truth, fastening ourselves upon Him and all that He has declared to be good, both during the day and in the night. We have much reason to be still before our Lord. Even when we are in unquiet times, by God’s grace, we need to keep our spirits calm and quiet.
Though the skeptics taunt and jeer, saying there is nothing good (v. 6), see how David in response calls upon God to reveal Himself. “Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.” There is wonderful and abundant good in and from God that counters and dispels the claims of the critics. David’s words here resemble the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:25-26. Considering the great light of God’s blessing upon them, David tells of what God had done in his heart. He filled it with gladness, even more than the joy of a bountiful harvest. Further, see how God’s presence in the midst of David’s storms allowed him to sleep peacefully, with full confidence.
Oh, how this psalm speaks to and refreshes us, my friends! I pray you’re challenged, edified, and blessed more and more as you meditate on it. Praise God for the work of divine saving grace and mercy in unrighteous, distressed, and miserable sinners. Praise the Lord that Christ is our righteousness! With open mouths we call upon the God who hears us. Our trust in Him is deepened in the midst of distress. He fills our hearts with joy and gladness. He quiets us and gives us His peace. He makes us still in the midst of the storms without and within. Full hearts, quiet spirits. To God be the glory!