Singing the Psalm

Open the translation of your choice...

 

 

... and be welcome to the immersion materials below.

 

Read Psalm 4: 

The peaceful trust of a good bedtime prayer

Psalm 4: Sleep Tight Now

A simple, soft meditation for Psalm 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Lie Down and Sleep in Peace (Psalm 4)

 

I will lie down and sleep in peace
I will lie down and sleep in peace
God's hears us when we call
I will lie down and sleep in peace

 

You have put gladness in my heart
You have put gladness in my heart
God's hears us when we call
You have put gladness in my heart

 

Now I will put my trust in God
Now I will put my trust in God
God's hears us when we call
Now I will put my trust in God

 

Words and music by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
© 2006 Worldmaking.net (ASCAP) All rights reserved. Please use with permission. Licensing via CCLI, OneLicense.net and Worldmaking.net.

Psalm 4 podcast nugget - Pulpit Fiction
00:00 / 00:00

For preachers only

 

 

 

 

Okay, it's for everyone, really. Richard goes on about Psalm 4 in an excerpt from the legendary Pulpit Fiction podcast.

Exploring Trust

 

Maybe we understand trust best in the midst of change.

 

Two moments can be part of change: anxiety and confidence.

 

When we're stressed or daunted, we know what trust is because we are not feeling it. Fear might be in front and courage seems a long ways off. Trust or assurance is not what's hapening here. The psalms assure us this is an honest human experience and dozens of them are centered on this moment. If you feel freaked out right now, you are in good, holy company.

 

When we feel confident, we are also clear what trust is, but from a different angle. In these moments or seasons, we are stepping across a bridge into a new thing and we've measured out something like faith and decided to go for it. There may very well be fear and doubt, but somehow there's a readiness for change and the sense that things will work out alright one way or another.

 

Martin Luther used the word trust to describe the essence of faith.

 

I think it's a feeling of confidence mixed with a desire for action covered in the overarching willingness to be dependent on something beyond ourselves.

 

What is trust like for you?

 

The Sufi tradition speaks of the human heart as that which is always turning and changing. If you're human, you know this. We change our minds, adjust our hair and wardrobe from time to time, change jobs, take relationships to new levels, redefine our vocations as they evolve.

 

At our best, humans adapt, learn and grow all the time. Which means lots of opportunity to practice trust.

Going Deep Into Psalm 4

 

Watch me for the changes and try to keep up. 

 

It's a bit confusing, this one. Rabbi Benjamin Segal calls Psalm 4 "a low-key drama of everyday struggle." (A New Psalm, p. 23)

 

It seems our Psalmist has had some trouble in town.

 

The text doesn’t tell us exactly what the situation is, but we can guess it has something to do with gossip and his or her reputation. Nothing life-threatening, but we can hear the frustration in the text with the “us” vs. “them” language. 

 

Verse 1 starts with a prayer, a plea to the "righteous" God to listen. The psalmist seems confident that the Holy One will have his or her back. There's even a little reminder to prime the pump, stating how helpful God has been in the past by bringing God's people to an open space. This is a motif in several psalms such as 18, 31, 118, 119 and 66: "You brought us to this wide open space of freedom."

 

Verse 2 shifts to address some unknown mob. Whoever these people are, there’s been some sort of betrayal; people have told lies that have made life difficult. 

 

Selah offers a breath to take in the words as the musicians play on.

 

Verse 3, Brueggemann notes, divides people into categories much like the three psalms before it (Psalms, p 41). In this case, the people "set apart" refers to the people of Israel, those who keep Torah. In Psalm 1, these are the people who are like trees transplanted near streams of water.

 

Verses 4-5 resonate with trust. Where the psalmist was first speaking to God, then to other people, maybe the psalmist speaks now to him or herself, or perhaps these lines are reflections on a teacher's advice.

 

Verses 6-7 seems to shift perspectives again. Is the psalmist now among the family of faith-- the "many" who trust their covenant God and recognize joy in sharing God's presence? Verse 6 echoes the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6. Brueggemann suggests this blessing represents restoring the complaining psalmist to the community (Psalms, p 41).

 

Verse 8 finishes with a very centered announcement: it's time for bed. All is rightly entrusted into God's hands.

 

At the end of the day-- literally and figuratively-- sleep is a kind of Sabbath surrender.

The Brave, Naked Prayer

Practicing the Examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

At evening, millions of people around the planet allow their attention back into the experiences of the day, bless them, and let them go before closing their eyes to sleep.

 

In its simplest form, the examen is remembering the best and worst parts of the day and blessing them as part of a rich spiritual life.

 

It's a very psalmy thing to do. If the psalms teach us anything, it's that the highs and lows of life are natural, normative and part of being a thriving human being. For many of us, however, it's a rare thing to set aside time reflect on daily life and the moments within that day. 

Try it with one of the videos below. Personally, I think the examen is a courageous and challenging practice, and if everyone on our planet did it, we'd make a kinder and more loving world.

More Music for Psalm 4

 

 

Benjamin Gonçalves

Psalm 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Breems and The Psalm Project

Psalm 4 (When I Call)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 4 composed by John W. Becker

Pittsburg Compline Choir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Love Supreme, Pt 4-- Psalm

John Coltrane

Not necessarily specific to Psalm 4, but may be

fitting for themes of trust and rest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God of My Righteousness

Karl Kohlhase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep In Peace (Psalm 4:8) 

by Rich Melheim, sung by Jon Anderson

Includes sign language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for studying with us at PsalmImmersion.com.

 

Have feedback for us? A comment, question or advice? We'd enjoy hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

Two More Windows

 

There are many, many, many, many psalms about trust.

With Psalm 4 at hand, let's look at two more.

 

Psalm 31 contains a traditional Jewish bedtime prayer in verse 5: “Into your hands I place my life.” Christians may also recognize these as Jesus' final words from the cross in Luke's version of the gospel.

 

Psalm 31 is a lament of fear and grief which has folded into it moments of praising God for the loving help the psalmist is sure will come soon.

 

“Into your hands I place my life.” 

 

What stirs in you to pray these words of trust? Which aspects of your life are easily opened and which a challenge to surrender? 

 

If your hands are free, notice if there is any way your hands want to move with these words. Again, but quieter. “Into your hands, I place my life.” And one last time. “Into your hands, I place my life.”

 

What a beautiful (and often challenging) way to end the day. Examen practice makes a daily rhythm that also invites attention on waking, each morning ushering in possibilities.

 

 

Psalm 40 is packed with creative and theological tension. Notice the first and final lines? It begins, "I waited patiently for the Holy One. It ends, "God, I can't wait any longer!"

 

In between is a narrative of confidence and celebration followed by a story of misery, fear and humiliation. and then kind of an awkward turn back to joy and desperate plea.

 

And you thought your prayer life meandered.

 

Where do you feel faith-full tension right now between patience and urgency? Both might ring true. Both can be faithful, and everything in between.

 

What would it look like to wait and hope quietly, totally still, allowing the world to ripen as it will and in its time?

 

What would it look like to demand change immediately with a passion that has you raise your voice and stomp?

 

Psalms like these invite us to notice our humanity and the range of emotions, motivations and longings that are knit into us.

The 3-4 bang bang

 

Psalm 3 is similar enough to 4 that some scholars think the two were originally one text.

 

I’m not totally convinced myself, but consider: the sleep motif is there in both. Both psalms describe confidence in the midst of trouble that God is listening to their call for help. Both speak of being sustained by God while are asleep.

 

If you’re interested, read Psalm 3 and 4 together and see what you think.

 

This has nothing to do with the sleeping cat over there.

Goodnight Now

 

Every night around the same time, everyone in your town falls unconscious for 7-8 hours. Then everybody opens their eyes and starts their day like nothing happened.

 

Sleep is fascinating to me. 

 

Sleep is restorative, it’s necessary for sanity and strength and it’s the most intimate time we have with our own unconscious mind. Plus, we have dreams— these movies that play with music and foley effects and staging— where somehow we invent characters, conversations, plot twists.

 

I think this is incredible.

 

Sometimes sleep comes easily. And sometimes really not. If you’ve ever struggled with insomnia or are close to someone who does, you know. When you deeply need rest but your body, mind and spirit can’t seem to get it together, it's miserable. 

 

Psalm 4 frames bedtime as the possibility of a moment of trust.

 

Major Asterisk:     If you struggle with insomnia, I’m not saying you’re not a faithful, trusting person. In fact, I know you are. As the psalm loads up this image of bedtime, I invite you to go with it.

 

When you were a kid, did you do bedtime prayers? Maybe someone was with you, maybe you were alone. Maybe someone taught you to pray here. For me it was almost always a relaxing time. 

 

Whatever your experience, at its best, a bedtime prayer is about closing the day with trust.

 

At this moment, the day bends into night and we give up the idea that there’s any more work or play to be done. It’s time to sleep.

 

We surrender what we wanted to happen but didn’t. We come clean about our mistakes. We celebrate what we enjoyed. And as we drift off, we notice our hope for what might happen tomorrow when we wake up and open our eyes.

Follow Psalm 4 in Hebrew

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