Summary: Are there times in your life when you feel penned in on every side and there is no where to turn for relief? Do you ever cry yourself to sleep only to wake up early? If so, then these psalms are for your comfort and hope.
Many think that Psalm 3 and 4 go together. Psalm 3 was to be sung in the morning and Psalm 4 in the evening. If this is true, then the situations are likely the same—David’s fleeing from his son, Absalom, who was trying to take over the kingship of Israel and kill his own father.
David needs God to respond to his cries. How often do we cry out to God and think that He is not willing to answer us? The problem is that we want to answer in our way in our time and that is not God’s way—notice how David recognizes that it is God who vindicates him. Like David, we must leave room for God to move when it is best in His will, which is far better than ours. Secondly David is not vindicated by his goodness, but by God. “Affliction” means “a tight space” while “freed” means “an open space.” David felt penned in by his circumstances—there was no way out, but even before the answer comes David calls on God to do as He has done in the past, to find wonderful creative ways to bring him back to freedom.
David is calling on God’s grace, not on the basis of his merit—because David knew he was suffering the consequences of his own sin. But even in that, there is grace when we call on the Lord—grace first, then God hears our prayer. In John 16:25-28 Jesus told His people that through Jesus the Father Himself loves us and will hear and answer us according to His will!
Though he doesn’t rely on his own innate goodness, David recognizes that people basically exalt themselves—that is basic humanity—get as far as you can by stepping over whoever gets in the way. But David recognizes that self-exaltation is a lie and one that originated with Lucifer. It is “worthless” because in the end it won’t get you anywhere. God is God and you are not. Trying to rebel against Him is like trying to fly a kite in a hurricane—you can try but I guarantee that it will be ripped from your hands. We pursue the lie that we are in charge of our own destiny, but the truth is that we are enslaved in sin to the devil until and unless we cling to Yahweh through His Son Jesus the Messiah!
David recognizes that God has set apart those that have faith and trust in God, rather than themselves and because of that God will hear their prayers.
David is begging the arrogant to “tremble” (another way to translate “anger”) and not to continue in their sinful rebellion but to reflect on their lives in hopes that they will repent.
Finally David hopes they will offer sacrifices to God out of a pure heart and trust in the Lord. How many times when wronged do we want the perpetrator to “get his due” and suffer? How wonderful instead to pray that they would reflect, repent, and return to the Lord!
There was a sincere question on the minds of Israelis at the time: will David be able to rule now? He then asks God to favor them, which He did. How many times do others or even you wonder if after a fall there is any way back again into God’s grace or into ministry? Isn’t it wonderful that as we seek God’s favor through His grace that we can find that restoration!