There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:6-8 ESV)
David is writing this psalm in the midst of great distress. It doesn’t say specifically what is happening, but David did spend a great deal of his life running from people who wanted his head, being insulted, betrayed, depressed, and feeling distant from God. David is not one of the people you see with a plastic smile on his face saying “everything’s fine” when he’s in internal torment.
What David does show us in this psalm is that even in his most distressing times he had a secret supply of joy and peace. In v. 4, some mocker asks David what good he has in his life, seeing as he is in such distress. David’s answer is beautiful and simple. The presence of God puts more joy in his heart than when other people have millions of dollars in the bank, perfect health, and a supermodel wife. David will take a crust of bread in a cave over all that because of the goodness of beholding the face of God by faith.
David’s joy is accompanied by a peace that doesn’t make sense. If you’re on the run for your life, is “peace” one of the words that comes readily to your mind? It is for David. David doesn’t have to toss and turn on his bed, worrying about how he’s going to make it through tomorrow. No, instead, David applies his knowledge of the sovereignty of God to his bedtime ritual. He lies down in peace because he knows that God has every facet of his life under control. He does not have to solve his problem, because God has obligated himself to take care of his people. His cure for worry is not self delusion, but a functional confidence in God to take care of him.