Psalm 4 - Answer me!

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
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?
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.
5) Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6) There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
7) You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
8) I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Psalm 4
3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B

I like to notice a psalm's movement: where it starts, where it ends, and the journey it takes.

This psalm starts in demand and distress. I am being dishonored! All those around me are ruinous liars. So answer me, Lord! Make it right!

And then it continues with advice for the person voicing the psalm. I recognize that I am contending against something bigger than my own personal capacity to solve it.

Even by the second verse, we can hear the Psalmist, guided by God, begin to redirect himself or herself, away from their enemies, and towards their true reality, rooted in God's good will for them. And for us.

This might be understood as a self-soothing strategy, to calm down, to refocus on the goodness that is God. Grant me, O Lord, the grace to accept with serenity the things I cannot change (my lying neighbors), the courage to change the things I can (my shame, my mindset, my behavior), and the wisdom to know the difference.

When you are disturbed, do not sin, do what is right, and and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who wish to see goodness and pray for the Lord's favor; let me now simply know the gladness in my heart and rest secure in You.

We have been led along a path. What a change from where we started! The change is good not only because we are in a better place. It is also lovingly self-directed, as if the one praying is remembering another reality, a reality that is more true, more enduring than the current trial.

Maybe that is an answer to our prayer:
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.

Forest path. Unattributed.

* New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition Bible (NRSVUE), copyright © 2021 the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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