The Expository Files

Morning and Evening Prayers

Psalms 3 and 4

The Christian's monumental admonition concerning prayer was given by the apostle Paul as "pray without ceasing." Yet well over a thousand years before this, under the lesser light of revelation of the Old Testament, there was a man who lived the same teaching, King David. David was a living illustration of constant prayer. In this pair of psalms we have prayers for the morning and evening. First notice the confident prayer of the morning. This psalms begins with David's cries for help as he is surrounded by enemies who deride his trust in God.

3:1 O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul, "There is no deliverance for him in God." Selah.
3 But Thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
4 I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

The enemies may ridicule; but God is still the shield, glory and power of David. Would that we could have such confidence in facing the world. How marvelous the answer of God from on high to the call of our prayers when they are made with such faith.

5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For Thou hast smitten all my enemies on the cheek; Thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; Thy blessing be upon Thy people! Selah.

Because of this David could rest at night knowing that the Lord would sustain him and still be with him in the morning. The answering of prayers past gives David confidence in facing whatever comes later. Even if it be ten thousands against David, numbers do not determine the question of right, nor do they determine the question of success. And numbers certainly don't determine the question of happiness. For David was far more at ease in his conscience than his much more numerous enemies. This is because God has brought, is bringing, and will bring salvation. What a wonderful thought to begin the day with. Reading on, we learn that David's day not only began with calling on God, but ended that way also.

4:1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! Thou hast relieved me in
my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
2 O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you
love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah.

Verse 1 is a great mixture of two thoughts -- the request for God to answer prayers and acknowledgement that God has answered them. But men do not consider these things. They long for the vain things of this earth. They could have the blessings of and confidence in God, but they take the passing pleasures of sin, the vanity of physical possessions, and the fleeting fame in the approval of men. Oh that men would seek the spiritual as the they do the carnal.

3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him.
4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

The real progress that one makes is life is made in God. The righteous has built his house on the Lord and the Lord builds his house. Compare this to the activity of the world: the mocking of the mockers, the scoffing of the scoffers, the sinning of the sinners, etc. It all continues unabated around the clock. The roaring cacophony of worldly noise never ceases. But when David went to bed he was not troubled by any of their hubbub. He went to sleep in quietness of heart. In the previous psalm we might have wondered how David was able to start the day with such a refreshed mind in light of all the that surrounded Him. Here is the answer - he slept well the night before in the peace that only faith in God can bring.

5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.
6 Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?" Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O LORD!
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For Thou alone, O LORD, dost make me
to dwell in safety.Worship God. Trust God. See the goodness that He brings His people -- and peacefully and prayerfully go to sleep each night.

Be quieted in heart for God rules all. He is approachable in prayer. He has delivered us many times in the past. And the peace of God is upon His people. As Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (Jn. 14:27)

By Jay Horsley
From Expository Files 7.7; July 2000