Psalm Saturday: Psalm 4

Psalm Saturday is here again! Today we compare Psalm 4, a “Confident Plea for Deliverance.” Interestingly, this psalm comes with instructions—this time David has written, “To the leader: with stringed instruments. A psalm of David.” In the RSV it says, “to the choirmaster.” I love seeing directions like this; sometimes I think we read the Psalms so much that we forget they’re music. This is just one way the Mass is so scriptural—we sing the Psalms. But enough of that. Onward to comparison!

Psalm 4: Confident Plea for Deliverance

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
Thou hast given me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
2 O men, how long shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, but sin not;
commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, O Lord!”
7 Thou hast put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety.
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
7 You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

The tables are a bit off today, and I’ve put the RSV in the left instead of the right. Again, we’re looking at “thee” and “thou” language as the major separation between the two translations. Honestly, I really used to have a soft spot for archaisms, but it’s just so much easier to read without them. Maybe all my school reading tired my brain…

Can I say I’m giggling over verse two in the NRSV? “You people” is hilarious. But it actually does work, since Israel is the “people” of God. I also like that the NRSV exchanges “godly” for faithful in verse three; this is a clearer word, I think. Verse four eliminates a bit more “biblish,” like “sin not” and “commune with your own hearts.” I like the use of “ponder” because it makes me think of interior thought, and the silence David calls for.

Generally, the psalm remains the same. But then, what can you expect in an RSV and NRSV comparison? I love this psalm because it makes me think about the interior life. Though the men around him are lying and gossiping, offering vain prayers to God, David knows God is with him and that the Lord’s presence is more important than any blessing he might get. I think the people around him want things, as if God were a genie—David just wants God.

courtesy of free images.com

courtesy of free images.com

This psalm also has something to say about guarding your speech. David writes, “Be angry but do not sin,” and I always think about the things I say when I’m angry or irritable. David only says, “Be silent.” I’m reminded of Matthew 15: 18-19: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” God made every person in His image, and we have no business defacing that image with unnecessary, hateful words. 

Just a few things to think about on this beautiful Saturday morning. I hope each of you have a blessed day. Don’t forget to pray your rosary!

In His Sacred Heart,

Erica

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4 thoughts on “Psalm Saturday: Psalm 4

  1. Erica Post author

    Jane, you should get a Catholic bible! The Deuteros are awesome! Maybe if you want an “official” Catholic bible you could try the NABRE? Oxford University Press makes the NABRE Catholic Study Bible and a Personal Study edition—it’s available on Amazon for a good price. If you’re up for a more traditional translation, Ignatius Press just released the Didache Bible; it’s really great and has commentaries from the Catechism! If you go to the Midwest Theological Forum website, they have a preview which will let you see the RSV translation. Ignatius has removed the “thee” and “thou” stuff. I have an Ignatius Bible and find it a pretty easy read. St. Benedict Press also publishes nice editions. Good luck in your search!

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  2. jane arney

    I like this idea of comparing the translations of the Psalms! Having attended evangelical churches for years I’ve grown accustomed to the NIV. I still use it for my personal Bible reading even though I’m back at Catholic Church, thanks to Pope Francis!

    For verse 1 the NIV says “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”
    And verse 4, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”
    I’m with you, I like the word ‘ponder’, though I also like ‘search your hearts’ since that suggests a sort of daily Examen or examination of conscience.

    I’ll be looking forward to next Sunday’s psalm comparison, thanks for your post!

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    1. Erica Post author

      🙂 “Search your hearts” is a great way of putting it! That’s exactly what I thought of—such a great way to explain the Daily Examen. I think one of the things to be careful with in the NIV is its very obvious Protestant bias (think of “deeds” vs. “works”), but like you I grew up in a Presbyterian church that used the NIV. I still have my copy I received at graduation, and I enjoy reading it. NIV bibles with the Deuterocanon… I’d love to see one of those! I’m assuming you have one, Jane? Where did you find yours?

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      1. jane arney

        The other thing to be careful of with the NIV Study Bible is its literalist interpretation, and its date/author attributions for all the books. I suppose I need to get a Catholic Bible of some sort now in order to have the Deuterocanonical texts as well.

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