Psalms 1:1 through 4:8

Daybreak for Students

Psalms 1:1 through 4:8

Psalm 1
Psalm 2
Psalm 3
Psalm 4
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. — Psalm 4:8

Have you ever had a night when you tossed and turned in bed for what seemed like hours? Perhaps you found yourself glancing repeatedly at the clock, wondering why you could not seem to doze off. Countless factors can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from pressure at work and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges such as layoffs, relationship issues, or illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive. If we are troubled, anxious, or encumbered with cares, how can we truly rest?

Sleep plays an important role in our physical wellbeing. Studies have revealed that the human body typically needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If our bodies do not get enough rest, our metabolisms slow down and our appetites increase. Brain functions are also hindered: focus, physical energy, and mood all take a hit. Our days are much more difficult when our nights are restless! God made our bodies to require recharging, and that occurs during a night of good sleep. While proper nutrition, exercise, and other factors also influence the health of our bodies, nothing can take the place of proper rest.

In Psalm 4, David stated that he could lie down in peace and sleep because the Lord gave him security. When David wrote this song, he was experiencing trouble. Perhaps it was composed while he was suffering from the rebellion of his son Absalom, who was determined to destroy his own father and usurp David’s authority in the kingdom. Or it may have been written during a time of distress due to crop failures. Whatever the case, David proved that the godly can find peace in the Lord even when outward circumstances are perilous. The psalmist knew that he could trust God and this assurance allowed him to state, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

Although we might not be able to control all of the factors that could interfere with our rest, we can adopt one habit that is sure to encourage better sleep. Like David, we can rejoice in God’s care for us. We can purpose to release our problems to God and choose not to dwell upon the troubles and “what ifs” of life. The Psalms are full of assurances of God’s presence, and what a basis that provides for restful sleep! As we center our thoughts on Him, He can provide us with the security we need to sleep peacefully and well.


The Book of Psalms as originally written in Hebrew was divided into five subgroups, with Book I being comprised of Psalms 1-41. All of the psalms in Book I are attributed to David except Psalms 1, 10, and 33.

Psalm 1

Although Psalm 1 was not specifically written as an introduction to the whole collection of psalms, it sets the tone for them. It is a wisdom psalm, offering a sharp contrast between the righteous and the ungodly.

Verses 1-3 relate to the behavior of the righteous man, and emphasize that avoiding the influence of the ungodly will bring blessing. The meaning of the “law of the Lord” in verse 2 goes far beyond a set of rules or legal requirements. It indicates the whole manner of life taught by Moses and the prophets, and is synonymous with “the Word of the Lord.” In verses 4-6, the ungodly are contrasted with the righteous, and are compared to the worthless chaff scattered by the wind during harvest.

Psalm 2

Although Psalm 2 is untitled, Acts 4:25 attributes authorship to David. It is classified as a royal or Messianic psalm. While the psalms categorized in this manner may have been associated with coronation or other kingly ceremonies, in New Testament writings they are frequently linked to Jesus Christ, the King of kings. For example, the Hebrew meaning of the word translated “anointed” in verse 2 is “Messiah,” a clear reference to Jesus Christ. This meaning is supported by Acts 4:26.

The theme of Psalm 2 is man’s sinful rebellion against God. The “heathen” in verse 1 are the Gentile nations — non-Israelites who had assembled with the intent of insurrection against the true God. The psalmist’s reference to God’s laughter in verse 4 does not indicate humor, but rather, God’s derision at man’s willful rebellion against Him.

Verses 6-9 contain Messianic references to Jesus and His future Millennial Reign in Jerusalem, when He will rule supremely. In verses 10-11, the psalmist exhorted the rulers of the world to exercise wisdom by reverencing the Lord. In David’s time, a kiss indicated respect for one of superior rank, so verse 12 implies that honoring the Messiah’s supreme eminence will prevent His wrath from being poured out.

Psalm 3

Psalm 3 is classified as a song of lament, and is a morning prayer written by King David as he fled from his son Absalom’s treachery. It is divided into four stanzas, with all but the third stanza ending in the word Selah, which indicates a pause for contemplation.

Verses 1-2 provide David’s perspective regarding the dissension that surrounded him. Verses 3-4 mark a turning point in his song: David turned his eyes from his adversaries to the character of God, and affirmed his confidence that God had heard his prayer and would intervene. Verses 5-6 reveal the peace and sustenance the psalmist experienced during this difficult time. In verses 7-8, David reflected on previous victories, concluding that only God is able to provide deliverance. He also conveyed his belief that God would continue to bless His people even in times of rebellion.

Psalm 4

David addressed Psalm 4 “to the chief Musician on Neginoth.” This inscription gave direction for the musical accompaniment of the psalm, as “Neginoth” has been interpreted, “on stringed instruments.” It is an evening prayer, and is traditionally associated with Psalm 3, which was a morning prayer written during Absalom’s revolt. Like Psalm 3, Psalm 4 has four stanzas.

Verses 1-2 are a plea for God to hear David’s prayer and grant mercy, while acknowledging God’s provision in previous times of distress. The Hebrew phrase “ye sons of men” in verse 2 denoted men of prominent status; David questioned how long they would disgrace the kingdom with their treachery and falsehoods. Verses 3-6 express the psalmist’s confidence that God would respond to his prayers. He urged the reputable men to refrain from letting their emotions lead to sin, but rather to meditate on their deeds when pillowing their head at night, to obediently offer sacrifices, and to trust in the Lord. In verses 7-8, David stated that the gladness God had planted in his heart was greater than the joy of a bountiful harvest, and his sleep would be peaceful knowing that God would take care of him.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.     Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II.    Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III.   Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV.   Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V.    Book V (107:1 — 150:6)


  1. According to Psalm 3:4, what did David do when he was in trouble?

  2. In Psalm 4:4 David said to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Why do you think he recommended being still?

  3. What might be some beneficial topics to meditate on as we lay down to sleep?


To enjoy the blessings and benefits of quality sleep, we need to be sure that we have handed over our cares to God and are resting securely in Him.