Psalm 4:1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
David is the author of this psalm. He begins v.1 addressing God directly, asking for the Lord to hear his prayers. Then he turns toward his adversaries in verses 2-3, warning them that God would come to his aid soon enough.
Then in verses 4-5 it seems David addresses the faithful among the people, offering some important words of advice. The Hebrew word translated as “disturbed” may also be translated as “angry”. When we are angry/upset we can be tempted to do things we know to be wrong. Sin. We can do things or say things that are hurtful or even violent. David understands this impulse. After all, he was a warrior who made a name for himself doing violence to the enemies of God.
Instead, David says to “ponder it in your beds, and be silent”. The Hebrew word for “ponder” can also be translated as “expect” or “believe”. Then v.5 says “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord”. What kind of sacrifices is David talking about? Considering these are sacrifices likely made in bed, I’m thinking he means sacrifices of prayer. The idea is to entrust the matter to God in prayer rather than act out in anger and sin.
I don’t tend toward violence, but I do tend to want to act first, think later. Entrusting things to God is hard for me, no doubt. As is true of many things related to life of faith, this is a simple idea that is hard to actually do. Kyrie eleison…