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Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 4

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.

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posted April 7, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I’m glad for this series. I have always had a difficult time relating the Psalms and all poetry in general.

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posted April 9, 2010 at 8:28 am

? ??????????, ??????? ??????? ???????–???????, ??????????? ????; ????????, ???????? ???????????. 2 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness, Thou who didst set me free when I was in distress; be gracious unto me, and hear my prayer.
? ?????? ?????, ???-??? ???????? ??????????–??????????? ????; ??????????? ????? ?????. 3 O ye sons of men, how long shall my glory be put to shame, in that ye love vanity, and seek after falsehood? Selah
? ???????–????-??????? ??????, ?????? ???; ?????? ????????, ?????????? ??????. 4 But know that the LORD hath set apart the godly man as His own; the LORD will hear when I call unto Him.
? ???????, ?????-??????????: ??????? ???????????, ???-?????????????; ???????? ?????. 5 Tremble, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah
? ??????? ???????-?????; ?????????, ???-??????. 6 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
? ??????? ????????, ???-?????????-????: ????? ????????, ???? ???????? ??????. 7 Many there are that say: ‘Oh that we could see some good!’ LORD, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us.
? ???????? ???????? ????????; ????? ???????? ???????????? ??????. 8 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than when their corn and their wine increase.
? ?????????? ????????, ??????????? ?????????: ????-?????? ?????? ???????; ???????, ?????????????. 9 In peace will I both lay me down and sleep; for Thou, LORD, makest me dwell alone in safety
Archaic wording aside, I find the direct translation much better. All the ‘translation’ has watered down some ideas and skewed others.

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