The Great Help We Need | Psalm 4:1
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
We start a new psalm this week, but with some of the same themes from Psalm 3. In fact, the occasion may be the same, with David either on the run from Saul or Absalom. In any event, this psalm is meant to give us peace during the troubles of life. We begin to see that here.
When facing trouble, remember what the Lord has done in the past. In this first verse, David begins with a plea common to the Book of Psalms—“Answer me when I call.” This isn’t a call of vain desperation, because he looks back and sees that the Lord has given him relief in the past. Literally, he says, “You made room for me.” David has been in tight spots in the past and the Lord granted him breathing space.
When facing trouble, remember also who the Lord is to you. That is, remember what the Lord has revealed about Himself and us. Righteousness refers to God’s standard, and how one should act in light of it; God will always do what is right, calling His people to do the same (Lv 19:15). He’ll judge the earth in righteousness (Ps 9:8; 96:13); God’s righteousness means judgment for us.
Yet, David uses it here as a positive term, linking it with salvation (cf. Jer 23:6). God reveals this in the NT (Rm 1:17). First Corinthians 1:30 says, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” For those of us who have not lived the perfect righteousness of God, we find in Christ a covering of righteousness.
David likewise sees the righteous Lord as the source of his own righteousness. He asks the Lord as such to be gracious—to show favor, though David doesn’t deserve it. Since God has delivered David in the past, he has confidence, but he still petitions God. God alone provides the great help we need in times of distress.