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Mizmor 004 - Loyalty and Commitment

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) בְּקָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי אֱלֹקֵי צִדְקִי בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי חָנֵּנִי וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment, a mizmor by David. (2) When I call out, answer me, my G-d of benevolence. You relieved me in distress. Be kind to me and hear my tefillah.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 13]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 004 - Loyalty and Commitment
In this mizmor David declares his loyalty to Hashem and compares it with the betrayals and lies that emanate from his enemies. He rebukes them for their disrespect and for their lack of loyalty to him as their anointed king. He charges them with acting out of selfish interest, seeking to gain temporary advantage while disregarding the truth and the will of Hashem.
Exploring the Mizmor
David composed this mizmor while being hunted by Shaul Hamelech and his soldiers. Although David was anointed king in Shaul’s place he found it difficult to gain the loyalty of Shaul’s followers who were convinced that Shaul would remain in power.
The mizmor has three parts. First, David calls upon Hashem to hear his tefillah. He then turns to his adversaries and rebukes them for their disrespect to him. Finally, he turns to Hashem, declaring his loyalty and his bitachon in Hashem’s protection.
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARD. David cries out to Hashem asking for His sympathy in this time of distress.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) בְּקָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי אֱלֹקֵי צִדְקִי בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי חָנֵּנִי וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי:
(1) For the musician, with musical accompaniment, a mizmor by David. (2) When I call out, answer me, my G-d of benevolence. You relieved me in distress. Be kind to me and hear my tefillah.
PART 2. REBUKE FOR DISLOYALTY. David turns to his adversaries and charges them with disloyalty and lack of integrity. He reminds them that he has been chosen by G-d and deserves their respect.
(ג) בְּנֵי אִישׁ עַד מֶה כְבוֹדִי לִכְלִמָּה תֶּאֱהָבוּן רִיק תְּבַקְשׁוּ כָזָב סֶלָה: (ד) וּדְעוּ כִּי הִפְלָה ה' חָסִיד לוֹ ה' יִשְׁמַע בְּקָרְאִי אֵלָיו: (ה) רִגְזוּ וְאַל תֶּחֱטָאוּ אִמְרוּ בִלְבַבְכֶם עַל מִשְׁכַּבְכֶם וְדֹמּוּ סֶלָה: (ו) זִבְחוּ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק וּבִטְחוּ אֶל ה':
(3) Sons of man, how long will [you put] my honor to shame? [How long] will you love empty talk, seeking falsehood? (4) But know that Hashem has set apart a devout person to be His, Hashem will listen when I call upon Him. (5) Tremble and don’t sin; consider in your hearts, lying in bed, and be silent, Selah. (6) Offer sacrifices of righteousness and trust in Hashem.
PART 3. DECLARATION OF LOYALTY. David turns back to Hashem and declares his total commitment and trust in Him.
(ז) רַבִּים אֹמְרִים מִי יַרְאֵנוּ טוֹב נְסָה עָלֵינוּ אוֹר פָּנֶיךָ ה': (ח) נָתַתָּה שִׂמְחָה בְלִבִּי מֵעֵת דְּגָנָם וְתִירוֹשָׁם רָבּוּ: (ט) בְּשָׁלוֹם יַחְדָּו אֶשְׁכְּבָה וְאִישָׁן כִּי אַתָּה ה' לְבָדָד לָבֶטַח תּוֹשִׁיבֵנִי:
(7) Many say, ‘Who will show us the good? Cast upon us the light of Your face, O G-d.’ (8) You have put gladness in my heart from the time their grain and wine abound. (9) At peace, I will simultaneously lie down and fall asleep for I know that You alone are Hashem, to make me dwell secure.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARD.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ בִּנְגִינוֹת מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד:
This song has been prepared for the musician  לַמְנַצֵּחַ  who will perform it with musical accompaniment  בִּנְגִינוֹת . It is a mizmor composed by David — מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד .
(ב) בְּקָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי אֱלֹקֵי צִדְקִי, 
בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי, חָנֵּנִי וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי:
When I call out to You, answer me  בְּקָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי , my G-d of benevolence — אֱלֹקֵי צִדְקִי . You relieved me in my past distress  בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי . So now again be kind to me and hear my tefillah — חָנֵּנִי וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי .
PART 2. REBUKE FOR DISLOYALTY.
(ג) בְּנֵי אִישׁ עַד מֶה כְבוֹדִי לִכְלִמָּה
My fellow Jews, don’t evade your responsibility as sons of a noble man — בְּנֵי אִישׁ . You are a people built on the foundation set by Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. How long will you put my honor to shame — עַד מֶה כְבוֹדִי לִכְלִמָּה ? How long will you call me “Yishai’s son,” as though I have no admirable qualities of my own? Surely people of nobility like yourselves should treat others with respect if they deserve it.
תֶּאֱהָבוּן רִיק, תְּבַקְשׁוּ כָזָב סֶלָה:
How long will you love to waste your time with empty talk — תֶּאֱהָבוּן רִיק ? How long will you seek falsehood — תְּבַקְשׁוּ כָזָב  like the Ziphim (I Shmuel 23) who initially pledged allegiance to me but then revealed my hiding place to Shaul? Selah — סֶלָה .
(ד) וּדְעוּ כִּי הִפְלָה ה' חָסִיד לוֹ, 
ה' יִשְׁמַע בְּקָרְאִי אֵלָיו:
But think about this — וּדְעוּ : Just as Hashem has set apart — כִּי הִפְלָה ה' – every devout person to be His — חָסִיד לוֹ , so He has set me apart and Hashem will listen to me when I call upon Him  ה' יִשְׁמַע בְּקָרְאִי אֵלָיו . Therefore you will not be able to defeat me.
(ה) רִגְזוּ וְאַל תֶּחֱטָאוּ, 
אִמְרוּ בִלְבַבְכֶם עַל מִשְׁכַּבְכֶם, וְדֹמּוּ סֶלָה:
Tremble — -רִגְזוּ with fear before Hashem and don’t sin — וְאַל תֶּחֱטָאוּ  by speaking falsehoods against me. At night when you are at ease, lying in bed — עַל מִשְׁכַּבְכֶם , consider in your hearts — אִמְרוּ בִלְבַבְכֶם  that Hashem hates lies. Whenever you are tempted to utter a falsehood, you should resolve to be always silent  וְדֹמּוּ סֶלָה .
(ו) זִבְחוּ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק, 
וּבִטְחוּ אֶל ה':
Offer sacrifices of righteousness  זִבְחוּ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק  whereby you declare your sincerity and give up dishonesty. Why should you lie for Shaul, thinking to get a material reward? It is better to trust in Hashem — וּבִטְחוּ אֶל ה'  and be under His protection.
PART 3. DECLARATION OF LOYALTY.
(ז) רַבִּים אֹמְרִים מִי יַרְאֵנוּ טוֹב 
נְסָה עָלֵינוּ אוֹר פָּנֶיךָ ה':
Hashem, there are many Jews who say  רַבִּים אֹמְרִים , Who will show us the good  מִי יַרְאֵנוּ טוֹב  things of the world?” They see the other nations enjoying material comforts, and they ask how they can share in the wealth. They pray to You for their desires to be satisfied and ask “Cast upon us — נְסָה עָלֵינוּ  the light of Your face, O God  אוֹר פָּנֶיךָ ה' .”
(ח) נָתַתָּה שִׂמְחָה בְלִבִּי
מֵעֵת דְּגָנָם וְתִירוֹשָׁם רָבּוּ:
But I am not like that. I don’t envy the other nations because You have put gladness in my heart — נָתַתָּה שִׂמְחָה בְלִבִּי  to be happy with my portion in life. My joy is greater than that of the many who find happiness only from the time their grain and wine abound — מֵעֵת דְּגָנָם וְתִירוֹשָׁם רָבּוּ .
(ט) בְּשָׁלוֹם יַחְדָּו אֶשְׁכְּבָה וְאִישָׁן
כִּי אַתָּה ה' לְבָדָד לָבֶטַח תּוֹשִׁיבֵנִי:
I am at peace  בְּשָׁלוֹם  for I am happy with my lot. I know You are protecting me, and so I have no trouble sleeping at night. I am confident that I have nothing to fear. Thus, I will simultaneously lie down and fall asleep — יַחְדָּו אֶשְׁכְּבָה וְאִישָׁן  at once. I will be at peace for I know that You are Hashem — כִּי אַתָּה ה' — Who rules over all, and even when I am alone — לְבָדָד You have the power to make me dwell secure  לָבֶטַח תּוֹשִׁיבֵנִי .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah asking for your needs, or expressing your gratitude and devotion to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[4:2] MAKING A REQUEST. – בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי חָנֵּנִי – “You relieved me in distress. Be kind to me.” When you ask Hashem for something, first express your gratitude for His past kindnesses. Don’t frame your request as something you deserve or that He owes you. Rather ask Him to do it as an act of pure kindness and graciousness
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[4:2] ASKING A FAVOR. – קָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי אֱלֹקֵי צִדְקִי – “When I call out, answer me, my G-d of benevolence. You relieved me in distress. Be kind to me and hear my tefillah.” If you want to ask a favor from someone, don’t start right in with your request. First, address the person courteously and make sure he is ready to give you his attention. Let him know you will appreciate anything he will do for you. This is especially important when the individual is someone to whom you owe respect.
[4:3] ADMONISHING. – בְּנֵי אִישׁ – “Sons of man.” When admonishing or rebuking someone, speak to him with respect, indicating that what he is doing is unworthy of him.
[4:3] MAINTAINING SILENCE. – תֶּאֱהָבוּן רִיק תְּבַקְשׁוּ כָזָב – “[How long] will you love empty talk, seeking falsehood?” Avoid empty talk, treachery, and falsehood. Be silent when you are tempted to utter sinful talk.
[4:5] וְדֹמּוּ — “Be silent.
[4:5] INTROSPECTION. – אִמְרוּ בִלְבַבְכֶם עַל מִשְׁכַּבְכֶם – “Consider in your hearts, lying in bed.” Before falling asleep at night, make an effort to think through your actions of the day to see if you have behaved badly.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[4:4] CHASIDUS. – הִפְלָה ה' חָסִיד לוֹ – “Hashem has set apart a devout person to be His.” Develop an attitude of chasidus (being devout) , that is, going beyond what is strictly required. Only then can you expect Hashem to be forgiving in His attitude towards you.
[4:5] TREMBLING. – רִגְזוּ וְאַל תֶּחֱטָאוּ – “Tremble and don’t sin.” Develop an attitude in which you tremble in fear of behaving badly and angering Hashem.
[4:6] SINCERITY. – זִבְחוּ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק – “Offer sacrifices of righteousness.” When correcting your behavior, think of it as a sacrificial offering that you are making to Hashem. Be sincere about your devotion and your motives.
[4:7] ENVY. – רַבִּים אֹמְרִים מִי יַרְאֵנוּ טוֹב – “Many say, ‘Who will show us the good?” Don’t be envious of the good fortune of others. Hashem gives you what is appropriate for you and that may be different from the person you are envying.
[4:8] GOOD WILL. – נָתַתָּה שִׂמְחָה בְלִבִּי מֵעֵת דְּגָנָם וְתִירוֹשָׁם רָבּוּ – “You have put gladness in my heart from the time their grain and wine abound.” Be happy for the good fortune of another. Your positive attitude is an expression of your love for the other person.
[4:9] RESENTMENT. – בְּשָׁלוֹם יַחְדָּו אֶשְׁכְּבָה וְאִישָׁן – “At peace, I will simultaneously lie down and fall asleep.” Don’t harbor resentment towards someone who has harmed you. Look to his doing teshuvah and being forgiven. Your goal should be a unity in peace.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are Rashi and Metzudos.