From The Book of Common Prayer's introduction to the Psalms:
"The Psalter is a body of liturgical poetry. It is designed for vocal, congregational use, whether by singing or reading" (page 582).
"An asterisk divides each verse into two parts for reading or chanting. In reading, a distinct pause should be made at the asterisk" (page 583).
"The version of the Psalms which follows is set out in lines of poetry. The lines correspond to Hebrew versification, which is not based on meter or rhyme, but on parallelism of clauses, a symmetry of form and sense."
In Psalm 4:1, you can see the parallelism of clauses marked out by the asterisk.
Before the asterisk, the key clause is "Answer me when I call"; and the parallel clause after the asterisk is "hear my prayer."
"The most common verse is a couplet, but triplets are very frequent, and quatrains are not unknown; although quatrains are usually distributed over two verses" (page 583).
Psalm 4:1 is a triplet: "Answer me"/"you set me free"/"have mercy."
Psalm 4:3 is a couplet, divided by the asterisk.
Psalm 4 has an explanatory title: To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Keeping and Jettisoning
Psalm 4 Cum invocarem
1 Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; *
you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 "You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory; *
how long will you worship dumb idols and run after false gods?"
3 Know that the Lord does wonders for the faithful; *
when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.
4 Tremble, then, and do not sin; *
speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.
5 Offer the appointed sacrifices *
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 Many are saying, "Oh, that we might see better times!" *
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord.
7 You have put gladness in my heart, *
more than when grain and wine and oil increase.
8 I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; *
for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
I have jettisoned verse 2 because dishonor is something we humans may feel from time to time, depending on the fragility of our egos— those who feel the most dishonor are those with the most fragile of egos.
The God who is willing to suffer crucifixion and absorb human violence and then appear to his disciples with the words, "Peace be with you," is not a God who would experience dishonor as we do!
And although we do indeed worship dumb idols and run after false gods in a metaphorical sense, we don't in a literal sense as the Israelites did.
Originally, I was going to jettison verse 6 because, by all objective standards we were experiencing an extended period of national recovery when I began this sorting.
Today, whatever one's political affiliations may be, there is no denying that "many are saying, 'Oh, that we might see better times!'"
And because I am one of those "many," for now, I am keeping verse 6.
Next: what would you keep and what would you jettison?
Psalm 5 Verba mea auribus
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord; *
consider my meditation.
2 Hearken to my cry for help, my King and my God, *
for I make my prayer to you.
3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; *
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
4 For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, *
and evil cannot dwell with you.
5 Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; *
you hate all those who work wickedness.
6 You destroy those who speak lies; *
the bloodthirsty and deceitful, O Lord, you abhor.
7 But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house; *
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, because of those who lie in wait for me; *
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth; *
there is destruction in their heart;
10 Their throat is an open grave; *
they flatter with their tongue.
11 Declare them guilty, O God; *
let them fall, because of their schemes.
12 Because of their many transgressions cast them out, *
for they have rebelled against you.
13 But all who take refuge in you will be glad; *
they will sing out their joy for ever.
14 You will shelter them, *
so that those who love your Name may exult in you.
15 For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; *
you will defend them with your favor as with a shield.