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. One of the themes of this psalm is that God answers prayer to comfort his people.
I like the directness of Psalm 4: Answer me. Lead me into a wide open space (of safety). Have mercy on me. Respond to my prayer.
Most of us don’t talk to God like this; but the psalmist does and we learn to pray by listening in on the psalmist’s prayers. God may or may not be offended by such directness, but that’s not the point: the point is that genuine prayer is direct communication with God. But that’s not the end of the prayer, as if being direct with God is somehow a sign that we really do exist. No, directness leads to probing the mind of God and a proper response to God. After all, the psalmist tells God to answer him but when the psalmist says this, he calls God the one “who vindicates me” or, as in Goldingay’s translation, “my faithful God.”
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.