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Psalm chapter 4

What does Psalm chapter 4 mean?

Psalm 4 is inspired by the same circumstances as Psalm 3. David's rebellious son, Absalom, has forced David to flee for his life (2 Samuel 15:13–14).

The choirmaster was the minister of music in the tabernacle or temple; this role is mentioned in the titles of fifty-five psalms.

David begins by praying for grace. He scolds those who oppose him, since they have followed the manipulation of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:6). Even as David recognizes their betrayal, he expresses confidence that God has called him. This is both reassurance to David, and a warning to his enemies (Psalm 4:1–3).

Turning to his own followers, David warns against letting emotion drag a person into sin. Even in dire circumstances (Psalm 3:1), believers should not allow their feelings to override their faith. The Hebrew word referring to anger here more literally refers to trembling, shaking, or agitation. Paul famously refers to this when discussing anger (Ephesians 4:26). David's immediate meaning involves more than uncontrolled rage. It's important to honor God in humility and faith, rather than letting anger—even righteous anger—lead a person into sin (Psalm 4:4–5).

The end of this psalm praises God for His encouragement. David notes that he has immense joy, thanks to the Lord. Joy is not always the same as happiness, nor does it always come from happy circumstances (James 1:2–4; Luke 6:22–23). Rather, it's an underlying sense of trust and reassurance, knowing that God is ultimately in control (Psalm 4:6–8).
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