Prayer for an Angry Son (Psalm 4)


1 To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in [my] distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O you sons of men, [Will you turn] my glory to shame? [How long] will you love worthlessness [And] seek falsehood? Selah 3 But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him. 4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD. 6 [There are] many who say, “Who will show us [any] good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

PSALM 4:1-8


Three pastors were gathered together to share their perspectives on the best position for powerful prayer. There also happened to be a fellow from the phone company working in the background of the office where they were meeting. The first pastor said, “I think the best position for prayer is to have your hands pressed together pointing upwards.” Another pastor interjected, “That’s good and all, but I’ve found that I’m the most powerful prayers I’ve prayed are when I’m on my knees!” The third pastor said, “I used to pray on my knees, but I’ve had a lot of success lately in getting on my face and laying on the ground before God in prayer.” … finally the phone guy couldn’t stay quiet any longer, he said, “The most powerful prayer I ever made was when I was dangling upside down by my heals, from a power pole, suspended forty feet from the ground!”

David finds himself in a “dangling upside down from a power pole,” type situation as he pens this song and prayer. He is on the ropes from Absalom. He is in danger of losing the kingdom, his son is leading an incredible rebellion against him, and there is no really good outcome that can come from any of it. Where else could he go, but to the Lord.

The fourth verse really stands out as David reminds us that sometimes anger is legitimate but it does not make our sin acceptable. Anger is never an excuse for sin. David confesses that there are things that may have happened to provoke his son to anger, “be angry.” But that our flared tempers shouldn’t lead us to sin, they should lead us to contemplation and meditation upon the character of God who will one day right all wrongs. We should put our trust in the Lord to lift up our faces from anger. Who knows, but perhaps David remembers moments of his life where he was right to be angry and was about to sin, but a calmer voice prevailed (1 Samuel 25).


Father, there are many things in this world that make us angry. Sometimes we are angry because we we misunderstand a situation, but sometimes we have a legitimate right to be angry because injustice has been done. I pray that even in the midst of righteous anger that we would not take in our hands that which belongs in yours. Keep us from sin in our anger, give us wisdom and grace to go to you in the midst of our angered and anxious minds that we might fine peace to sleep by trusting in you to guide our paths. We seek your will in every area of our lives, even our emotions like anger and how it is expressed. In Jesus Christ, Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

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