Sometimes our prayers combine talking to God and talking to others when those others aren’t even present. Psalm 4 [after the jump] does just this. The psalmist (David) talks to God (v. 1) and then to others (vv. 2-5) and then to God again (vv. 6-8). John Goldingay (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41
) explores this prayer, and we enter now into vv. 2-8. You can read the whole psalm after the jump.
Turning to speak to one’s enemies is common enough in the psalms, but it might be good for us to remind ourselves that this happens and to tell ourselves that this can be a part of prayer (cf. 6:8; 62:3). This might be a lament turned into preaching to them (so Goldingay’s suggestion).
The psalmist begins with two questions designed to put the enemies into a corner: how long will you dishonor God, how long will your pursue these vain things? They need to know something, the psalmist tells them: God is with the committed one (hasid or godly person). Furthermore, God answers the godly person’s prayers. Therefore, they need to tremble at what they are doing and offer true sacrifices and learn again to trust in YHWH. The enemies question God’s goodness.
The psalmist, who has now announced to the enemies that God answers his prayers, turns to request: Smile upon us, YHWH. But the psalmist, in v. 7, says something odd: they get grain and wine and I get “joy in my heart.” Why? Because he knows God is with him and will give him peace (shalom).
The psalm comes fully around: to God, to others, and now to God — in confidence and trust.
4:1 When I call out, answer me,
O God who vindicates me!
Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place.
Have mercy on me and respond to my prayer!
4:2 You men, how long will you try to turn my honor into shame?
How long will you love what is worthless
and search for what is deceptive? (Selah)
4:3 Realize that the Lord shows the godly special favor;
the Lord responds when I cry out to him.
4:4 Tremble with fear and do not sin!
Meditate as you lie in bed, and repent of your ways! (Selah)
4:5 Offer the prescribed sacrifices
and trust in the Lord!
4:6 Many say, “Who can show us anything good?”
Smile upon us, Lord!
4:7 You make me happier
than those who have abundant grain and wine.
4:8 I will lie down and sleep peacefully,
for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.