Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
To the Chief Musician on Neginoth—A Psalm of David
1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness:
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;
Have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?
How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself:
The LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not:
Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And put your trust in the LORD.
6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good?
LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart,
More than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
For thou, LORD, only
Makest me dwell in safety.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
TITLE AND DIVISION.—This Psalm, assigned to the chief musician (vid. Introduct.), was not to be accompanied with wind instruments, or instruments of alarm, but only with string instruments [Neginoth vid. Introduct.]. This agrees with the character of the Psalm as an evening Psalm (Psalm 4:8), and with the soothing rhythm especially of the last strophe. This last strophe, which brings the Psalm as well as the Psalmist to repose, is of three members, as the first strophe, which contains a cry to God for help; whilst the three intermediate strophes are of lour members. Of these, moreover, the first two are divided by Selah into a warning and an exhortation; the third, which contrasts the courageous faith and joy in God of the pious Psalmist, with discouraged and earthly-minded men, has not the musical interlude. Whilst Seb. Schmidt, Claus, De Wette, Hupf., et al., deny the marks of David, and regard the individual features at once as general, Olshausen at least has recognized their individual character, and Ewald has beautifully explained the Davidic features of the Psalm. With the most of the interpreters he puts this Psalm side by side with the previous one in the dangerous times of the rebellion of Absalom. Even Hitzig recognizes the connection between these two Psalms, but he assigns it as previously Venema, to the situation of David, according to 1 Sam. 30. Lightfoot and J. H. Michaelis suppose it refers to the rebellion of Sheba, 2 Sam. 20. [Delitzsch: “A Davidic evening Psalm follows a Davidic morning Psalm. The connection is clear from the mutual reference of 4:6 to 3:2, and 3:5 to 4:8. These two are the only Psalms in which the language of others is cited with ‘many that say.’ The one is explained historically from the title of the other. It follows from 4:2, ‘how long,’ and the words of the fainthearted, 4:6, that Ps. 4 is the later one.” Perowne: “The thoughts and turns of expression in the one are not unlike those in the other. As in the former he heard many saying to his soul, ‘There is no help for him in God’ (Psalm 4:2), so in this he hears many saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ (Psalm 4:6). As in that he knew that though at a distance from the Tabernacle, he was not at a distance from God, but would receive an answer to his prayer from the ‘holy mountain’ (Psalm 4:4), so in this, though the priests have returned with the Ark to Jerusalem, he can look for the ‘light of Jehovah’s countenance,’ which is better than the Urim and Thummim of the priestly ephod.”—C. A. B.]
Str. I. Psalm 4:1. My God of righteousness [O God of my righteousness—A. V.].—This translation embraces very well the various references of the Hebrew expression. “Jehovah is the possessor of righteousness, the author of righteousness, the Judge of righteousness, and He justifies righteousness when it is misunderstood and persecuted” (Delitzsch). The following translations are likewise grammatically indisputable: God of my right (De Wette), comp. Ps. 17:1; God of my righteousness (Hupfeld [Wordsworth, Perowne]); my righteous God (Hengst. [Barnes]).
The following perfect is limited by Hitzig to the deliverance from the calamity which he has just experienced and lamented in Ps. 3. Hengst., Delitzsch, et al., on the other hand, refer it to a series of previous experiences, and therefore translate it as present. [Delitzsch: “Many times he had been in straits, and God made room for him. The idea is of the expansion of the breathing and of space. It means—space for the anxious heart, Ps. 25:17; Is. 60:5; space for the straitened situation, Ps. 18:19; 118:5.”—C. A. B.] Ewald and Hupf. regard it as a relative clause, on account of its position between two imperatives. [Perowne: “Thou (that) in straitness hast made room for me.” This seems to be the best rendering. It makes the strophe more harmonious. It then refers to the deliverance from that critical situation in which he was placed before he received intelligence from Jerusalem, and crossed the Jordan into a wider and safer region. Here he could breathe more freely and make preparations to meet his foes.—C. A. B.] De Wette, in spite of the failure of the vav consec., views it as imperative, and supports this view by citing parallel passages, which he falsely explains.
Str. II. Psalm 4:2. Sons of men.—According to Hitzig, denotes men in contrast to women, and refers to those which accompany David. According to Hupfeld, it refers to the human weakness and carnal mind of the many (Psalm 4:6), who might be addressed emphatically as: ye children of men. [Barnes: “As having human feelings, passions, and purposes, in strong distinction from that righteous God to whom he had just made his solemn appeal.”—C. A. B.] According to most interpreters, the reference is to the prominent men among the crowd, among whom, then, here, the few unsatisfied and perplexed companions of David, the heroes (Tholuck), beloved men (Luther), or since Kimchi, the aristocracy, whose instrument Absalom was, the “great fellows” in Luther’s margin, who dishonored the royal dignity at the same time that they violated David’s personal honor. [It does not seem necessary to give to ’ish an emphatic signification. There is no contrast here with ’adam. The contrast is with God, as Hupfeld and Barnes show. Yet the reference is not so much to human weakness and a carnal mind, as to the fact that whilst men dishonor him, God has honored him, and will honor him again by hearing his prayer. And then when man is contrasted with God, even though a vir or an ’ish there is necessarily implied in this contrast human weakness and littleness.—C. A. B.]
Vanity.—This hardly means: worldly vanity (De Wette), but either the vanity of their designs (Kimchi), or, still better, the vanity of their reasons, to which they appeal in their rebellion, which conceal from themselves and others its true character. It is not necessary, therefore, to regard the rebellion itself as marked with the name Lie [Leasing—A. V. Old English word for lying and falsehood.—C. A. B.] (Calv.). Lying and deceit have been the means of their demands. Comp. 2 Sam. 15:7 sq. (Hengst.). The Septuagint follows a different reading: ὑιοὶ ἁνθρὡπων ἕως πότε βαρυκάρδιοι; so also the Vulgate, many ancient Fathers, and Augustine. The graves corde are then supposed by the interpreters to be: people either of idle and cowardly or of hard, obstinate and unfeeling hearts.
Psalm 4:3. Wonderfully selected [set apart—A. V.].—The verb contains the idea of discrimination (Ex. 8:18), more closely, the meaning of extraordinary distinction in the Divine government (Ex. 33:16; Ps. 139:14). The comparison of Ps. 31:21 with Ps. 17:7 only shows that there is no essential difference between הפלה and הפלא (as 37 Codd. Kennic, and 28 De Rossi read here הפליא, Deut. 28:59; Is. 28:29). It cannot be decided from the word itself, whether we are to suppose here Divine distinction = wonderful guidance in general (Luther and most interp., Sept., ἐθαυμάστωσε, Vulg., mirificavit, for which, in many Psalters. admirabilem fecit or magnificavit, which already inclines to the other explanation), or whether there is meant here special selection = elevation to the royal dignity. With this last interpretation Calvin, partially following the example of the Syriac with Rabb. Isaki and Kimchi, unites directly to the verb the לוֹ which follows somewhat later in the passage; whilst Hengstenberg unites it closely with the noun which immediately precedes it, as those do also who advocate the first mentioned explanation. These, then, translate, mostly, “his holy one” (the plural of the Vulg. is against the text), and take it in the ethical sense = his pious one, following the Sept.: τὸν ὅσιον αὐτόυ. The grammatical connection is then usually more correctly explained after the analogy of Ps. 17:7 (Rosenm.), at the same time, with a different meaning of the word. Thus Ewald, Maurer, Olsh, De Wette translate: he that is faithful to him; Camphausen: he that is devoted to him; Hitzig: his friend; J. H. Michaelis: gratiosum sibi. Hupfeld endeavors to show that the parallel passage, Ps. 31:21, favors the connection of לוֹ with the verb, and that חָסִיד, a denominative of חֶסֶד, must derive its meaning from the specific idea and terminus of the grace and mercy of God, first of all towards Israel, then towards the individually pious; and that the passive form of the verb also, according to the passive meaning = favored, standing in a condition of grace, in a covenant of grace with Jehovah in the Old Covenant, is almost the only prevailing meaning; whilst the meaning accepted here by Calvin (benignum), and by him and Hengstenberg (one who has and exercises love), as the original and justifiable usage, seldom occurs (e. g., of God’s grace towards men, Ps. 145:17; Jer. 3:12; of the kindness of men towards one another, Ps. 12:1; 18:25; 43:1; Mich. 7:2; as a religious practice well pleasing to God, Hos. 6:6, according to its nature and derivation as חָסִיד of Elohim or Jehovah, 1 Sam. 10:14; 2 Sam. 9:13), and originated from transfer, which goes to the farthest extent, Jer. 2:2. Delitzsch hesitates respecting the derivation and meaning of this word upon which he erroneously lays the chief emphasis. But the emphasis, according to position and sense, belongs partly to the verb which, according to him, means not only mere selection, but wonderful selection, partly to the pronoun, whose position also at the end of the sentence, according to the grammatical connection which he approves, in any case attracts attention, and according to my view expresses this thought: that he who is distinguished by God is, in his position of grace and honor, not only of some importance for men, but also for God, and is designed, and stands ready for the Divine service and glory. This suits the situation better, and means more than if the Psalmist merely said that to which the grammatical separation of לוֹ from the verb would lead: he has not been brought into his high position by men but by God, or also he has already experienced previously many wondrous guidances. But the analogy of Scripture is against the view that he sought the reason of his election, elevation, and support, in his subjective piety, goodness, or any other moral excellence, or that he would base on these the assurance that his present prayer would be heard. But it is frequently to be seen in sacred history that Jehovah has selected from the crowd of those whom He has favored, some one for His special use, who also is conscious of this relation, and may appeal to it for comfort.
Str. II. Psalm 4:4. Tremble.—[“Stand in awe,” A. V.], viz.: before the wrath of God. The translation of the Septuagint ὀργίζεσθε, as Eph. 4:6 [Be ye angry and sin not] is grammatically possible, for the Hebrew verb denotes in general, to be shaken, to be unquiet; and indicates as well, trembling on account of wrath as of fear (Augustine, Luther, Hitzig). But in no case can the negative be drawn to the verb, (as Dathe, and even Hengstenberg). The context favors the view that here also, as in most cases, the trembling of the creature before the appearance of God (Hupf.) is used as the motive of warning. [Delitzsch: “He warns His adversaries of blind passion, and advises them to quiet meditation and solitary consideration that they may not ruin their own salvation.” Riehm: “You may continue to be angry (until by Divine help your anger is shown to be unreasonable), but at least do not sin by abusing the man who is favored by Jehovah, but instead of giving vent to your anger in abusive words, speak in your heart upon your bed, and be silent. This suits the context, and since ragaz can scarcely mean holy fear of God without מפּני this explanation is preferable.” Wordsworth supposes that “David now turns from his enemies to his friends, and checks their wrath. David may be supposed to be addressing such zealous partisans as Abishai his nephew, who, when David was flying from Absalom, was transported with indignation against his persecutors, and craved leave to take off the head of Shimei, who cursed David, and was restrained by him in the spirit of this Psalm. See also David’s merciful charge with regard to the life of Absalom himself, 2 Sam. 18:5.” The historical allusion of Wordsworth seems to be the most correct, the grammatical explanation of Riehm the most proper. It seems more harmonious with Wordsworth (vid. further below) to make the change from enemies to worldly-minded friends here, Psalm 4:4 instead of Psalm 4:6, as is generally done.—C. A. B.]
The addition of in your heart [“with your heart,” A. V.] indicates the speaking [“commune,” A. V.] as an internal one, which every one does within himself, and indeed as spiritual consideration and deliberation; for the heart, according to Hebrew ideas, is not so much the pathological seat of the feelings, as the sphere of ethical, rational consideration in order to form determinations of the will. The quiet of evening, and the silence of the night which works mightily upon the inner life of man, is especially suited to such consideration and reflection as involves moral resolutions. The couches are therefore to be regarded as beds (Aben Ezra) and not as divans in the assemblies (Mich. Or. Bibl. X. 126).
Be still, could mean the silence from calumniation (Aben Ezra, Ewald, Köster, Olsh.) or even the keeping quiet, as well in the sense of quiet submission to the Divine will in contrast to murmuring and contradicting, as in that of discontinuing his movements (Hupf.) It is not correct to suppose that it is the discontinuance of the raging of the rebels in consequence of reflection (Hengst., Delitzsch). The explanation of Hitzig: those who are excited to anger might occasionally be angry, but not lend any words to their ill-humor towards God lest they sin, leaves entirely out of consideration the fact that even the language of anger kept close in the heart is a sin, and that Jehovah is a discerner of the heart. [However they might quiet their anger by meditation in the still hours of the night. And if this is addressed to his own followers, Joab and Abishai, etc., they had reason for righteous indignation, to be angry in the sense of the Apostle, but not to sin. They were to restrain their wrath by meditation, and be still, lest it should burst forth beyond its just limits and become sin. Perowne: “Let the still hours of the night bring calmer and wiser thoughts with them.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 4:5. Offer sacrifices of righteousness.—The difficulty of finding the true connection vanishes with the consideration that already in the previous verse the rebels received a Summons in the form of a warning to act righteously, and indeed essentially with reference to religion, and that this demand already passed over into direct exhortation; furthermore, that the rebels who were in possession of Jerusalem performed the sacrifices, but lacked the proper disposition which was likewise demanded by the law; finally that there is expressed not so much a contrast to a mean and vain trust in their own prudence, power, and earthly possessions, (De Wette), which their opponents were, it is true, in possession of (Psalm 4:7b.), and still less an encouragement to his timid companions to trust in God, but rather the contrast between those who depend on Jehovah, and those who depend on the ceremonies and lip service which they practice; for the rebellion against the Anointed of Jehovah can be consistent only with the latter and not with the former.—Sacrifices of righteousness are not only those which are performed correctly according to the ritual; not only the sacrifices due on account of sins that have been committed, after the presentation of which they are to turn with hope to Jehovah (Ewald, Olshausen); so also not righteous works and moral actions in a symbolical sense (with which interpretation Hitzig regards as most correct, righteousness itself as the sacrifice which is to be brought, and indeed perhaps not righteousness towards the Psalmist, but proper behaviour towards Jehovah, whilst the glory due to Him is given, and the obligated trust is bestowed upon Him); but true sacrifices performed with a disposition in accordance with the will of God, and the meaning of the law.13
Str. IV. Psalm 4:6. Many.—These are no longer those previously addressed (the most interpreters, even Hitzig); but also not the people in general (Calv.); nor men of the world, who long after earthly blessings (Hupf. [Barnes]); nor companions in suffering in general, especially among the fellow-countrymen of the Psalmist (De Wette);14 nor unsatisfied complainers (Sachs); but those constantly increasing in number in David’s little band who were discouraged. The words are not an ordinary proverb of the carnal disposition of the multitude (Venema), nor a question of impatience or of reproach (Hupf.), but a doubting question of despondency in view of the future (Delitzsch). It is better to take it as a question than as an optative, (De Wette) although the latter is possible.
Lift upon us the light of thy countenance. These words are treated by Hupfeld and Camphausen as still the words of the many, but it is more suitable to ascribe them to the author, in whose intercession the two solemn expressions of priestly blessing, Num. 6:25, 26, “make shine,” “lift up” melt pregnantly together. It is doubtful whether there is not still a third reference entwined with the others by an allusion of the form נְסַה (for the pointing compare Sommer’s Bibl. Abhandl. I. 110) to נֵם = banner, standard (Sachs: let stream; Delitzsch, better: let wave). But since Delitzsch himself grants that the derivation (Isaki, Rosenm.) from נסם is not allowable, and the reference is only to be recognized by the eye, and not by the ear, it is advisable, with Aben Ezra, Luther, et al., to hold fast to this; that נְסָה is like נְשָׂא (which is indeed the reading of 1 Codd. Kenn.), especially as the last mentioned form of the imperative is used also in Ps. 10:12 instead of the usual form, שָׂא. E. von Ortenberg (Zur Textkritik der Psalmen, 1861, p. 2) wishes also to make the alteration even there. The Vulgate has signatum est, according to the Sept.: ἐσημειώθη = made known by a sign, which is explained by most interpreters: it beams so that it may be known. [Riehm: “instead of despairing, he believes; instead of complaining, he prays. He opposes his own prayer to the unbelieving question of the many.”—Upon us. Alexander: “indicates the expansive, comprehensive spirit of true piety, extends the prayer to his companions in misfortune.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 4:7. Greater than [More than—A. V.].—This sentence is very much contracted, and contains really three ellipses: (1) of an adjective, greater or better; (2) of the idea compared, joy; (3) of the relative either after time (Gesenius), or after new wine (J. H. Mich.), especially if we would translate according to the accents: than at the time of their corn and new wine, when they are abundant; and if we would not take the following רבּוּ as an independent clause: they are many. For the particulars comp. Hupfeld. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Flaminus, Sachs, avoid the ellipses with the exception of that of the relative by the translation: since that their corn, etc. This translation is, however, connected with historical explanations which are entirely untenable The translation of the Vulg. follows the reading of the Sept.: of the fruit of their corn and wine and oil they had abundance. But instead of a fructu, many ancient Psalteries read (vid. Schegg) a tempore, which leads to the reading ἀπὸ καιροῦ instead of ἀπὸ καρποῦ. Ewald, Olsh., Camph. explain the suffix as impersonal. Hupfeld refers it to the many (Psalm 4:6); most others, correctly, to the enemies of the poet, and indeed most properly thus: that the quiet joy of the royal Psalmist, who rejoices in God, whilst he is suffering want in a time when food can only occasionally be brought to him, owing to the hostility excited against him in almost the entire land (2 Sam. 16:1; 17:26 sq.), is set far above the loud raging of his enemies, who revel in the abundance of harvest; consequently the historical reference is maintained even here against the supposition that the poet merely uses a proverbial expression (Hupf., Hitzig, Camphausen, et al.) in order to put his religious joy higher than the highest worldly joy.
[Delitzsch: “David had come to Mahanaim, whilst the rebels were encamped in Gilead. The land round about him was hostile, so that he had received provisions as stolen for his support, 2 Sam. 17:26–29. Perhaps it was about the time of the feast of the Tabernacles. The harvest of grain and wine was past. A rich harvest of corn and new wine had been brought into the barns. Absalom’s collectors of revenue had a strong support in these rich provisions of which they had the disposal. David and his little band had the appearance of a band of beggars and freebooters. But the king, who has been brought from the sceptre to the beggar’s staff, is even more joyous than the rebels. What he has in his heart is a better treasure than they have in their barns and cellars.” Wordsworth: “Many among you (David is speaking to his followers, who accompanied him in his flight from Jerusalem over the Mount of Olives, and look wistfully and despondingly on the city from which they were driven), many among you are saying, Where is any hope left? Who will show us any good? And he turns from them and raises his eyes to God: ‘Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. ’We cannot now, it is true, offer the sacrifices of victims before the Ark at Jerusalem, but we may offer the sacrifices of the spirit. We have not access to the Urim and Thummim on the High Priest’s breast-plate in the sanctuary; but God will lift up the light of His countenance upon us. We cannot now receive the benediction of the Priests: ‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace’ (Num. 6:24–26); but the Lord Himself is ever present with us to bless us, and He lifts up the light of His countenance upon us. There is our true good. There is our genuine gladness,—a gladness of heart,—greater than any which our enemies can feel on account of the increase of their material blessings of corn and wine (Psalm 4:7).”—C. A. B.]
Str. V. Psalm 4:8. The rapid change of experience which is admitted to prevail is so inconceivable to some interpreters, that they do not even regard the assurance of the praying Psalmist that he has received joy from the Lord, as a principle derived from experience (with Hupfeld), to which the praying man can refer in joyful remembrance, with a glance towards the gracious light of the Divine countenance; still less, with Hengstenberg, do they allow without question that it is an expression of the comfort of faith received into the heart in consequence of the prayer just uttered, and of the assurance of faith in its being heard; so also they do not put a pause somewhere between Psalm 4:6 and 7 as indispensable, that the agitated breast of the poet may have time to breathe, in order that his feelings may become composed; but they suppose a longer space, and postulate for it a joyful heart, which then Hitzig has spun to the conjecture that Psalm 4:7 and 8 might have been subsequently added by the poet.
If a particular event is insisted on between Psalm 4:6 and 7, then it is easier, instead of conjecturing any unknown good fortune, to suppose the fact well known to all experienced believers, that in ardent prayers made in times of severe calamity, they receive a Divine promise of certainly being heard, and are transported with a bound from sickness to joy by the gracious countenance of God shining upon them personally in the most fearful night of calamity. But even this spiritual explanation is entirely unnecessary here, for the supposition of a change of sentiment is simply forced into the text. Already in Psalm 4:3 the Psalmist has expressed the confidence that his prayers would be heard, in the assurance of his peculiar relation to God, and from this position called upon his enemies to repent. From the same situation and confidence he continues to speak when he draws forth from their sighs and murmurs, the question circulating among his followers which had remained true to him, though discouraged. This question must be answered, and he answers it at once, but not theoretically or didactically, but practically, religiously and ethically, so that the hearers who are spiritually wretched may be drawn into his comforting exercise, viz., to prepare themselves a peaceful and quiet sleep in the midst of their enemies by invoking Divine grace, by thankful confession of blessings already experienced, and by resignation to the protection of the Almighty.
Directly will I lay me down and sleep.—The adverb, according to Hupfeld, is without emphasis and merely serves to unite two synonymous verbs. But it is this very coincidence of that which the two verbs thus combined express, that is here undeniably expressed by the adverb, Ps. 141:10; Jer. 42:14 (Ewald, Delitzsch, Camph., Hitzig), which, after Aben Ezra, is explained by some: at the same time with my enemies; by others: together with my enemies. [Perowne: At once will I lay me down and sleep—as soon as I lie down, I sleep, not harassed by disturbing and anxious thoughts.—C. A. B.]—Alone in safety.—It is doubtful whether the adverb is to be connected with Jehovah according to the authority of the Punctators, for which, among recent interpreters, Ewald, Olsh., Camph. decide, and Hupfeld also at least inclines to this, because the reference to Jehovah as the only ground of his safety corresponds with the previous contrast (Calvin: the alone sufficient One, who recompenses the whole world); or whether it belongs to the speaker in the signification “alone,” “separate,” with which the idea of safety and intimacy is
connected (especially clear in Jer. 49:31). I decide for this last interpretation, which is found in Sept., Vulg., and all ancient translations, and Sachs, De Wette, Von Lengerke, Delitz., Hitzig, among recent interpreters, because this not only gives a good sense, but because only Deut. 32:12 can be adduced in the language for the possibility of the first signification, whilst all other passages are in favor of the latter, especially Deut. 33:28 is analogous, and perhaps typical, just as for the last words of the Psalm, Lev. 25:18, 19. Hengstenberg, who makes this prominent, would unite both references and adduces as a real parallel, Deut. 33:12. [Riehm: “The thought that Jehovah is the only protection, is without motive in the context, as it is not said that he lacked other protection, nor of the many that they sought other protection anywhere else. The לבדד and לבטח are parallel, and express a common idea as the two verbs in the first member.” So Alexander: “Alone in safety thou wilt make me dwell.” These remarks of Riehm are convincing. Delitzsch: “The iambics with which the Psalm closes, are as the last sounds of a cradle song, which dies away softly, and as it were, falling to sleep itself. Dante is right; the sweetness of the music, and harmony of the Hebrew Psalter, has been lost in the Greek and Latin translations.”—C. A. B.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. He who knows the moral nature of God, stands in a gracious personal relation to Him, and experiences Divine assistance; has, even in severe times, joyfulness in prayer, courage for the struggle ordained for him, confidence in the help of God, and comfort with reference to the issue of his affliction.
2. Righteousness and Grace are not opposed to one another in God, but man must not forget that he must enter into positive and active relations with reference to both of these attributes of God, if he would obtain and retain righteousness, peace, and joy. “He who is perplexed with Divine government amidst the confusion in the world’s movements, and asks: where then is Providence? demands that he should be directed to the sun in clear noonday” (Chrysostom).
3. He who is assured of his election, and his favor with God, loses all fear of man. But he must value the position given him, and should not only defend himself therein against calumniation, and stand out against assaults, but should strengthen himself in it by submission to God, and remind others, even his adversaries, of their duty, and stimulate them by warning, admonition, and summons, to perform their obligations.
4. Where God causes His face to shine, there man is enabled to behold what he desires to see for his comfort and consolation in hours of gloom, which either he could not perceive in the hour of affliction, or could not profit by it, owing to the care, and fear, and unbelief, and doubt, which darkened his soul. The hope of faith is opposed to the doubt of unbelief, and the protection of God is better than many thousands of guards, and warlike companions.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
We do well, first of all, to speak with God, and then to transact business with our neighbors.—When the world is at enmity with us the friendship of God is: 1) The best consolation; 2) the surest help.—There is no night too dark to be illuminated when God shows us the light of His countenance—The best care for our welfare is: 1) The thankful acknowledgment of God’s mercy; 2) the consideration of God’s justice; 3) the fervent supplication for confirmation of God’s faithfulness and omnipotence.—All the ways of the pious begin and end with trust in the faithful God.—He who appeals to his state of grace must see to it: 1) That he makes his own calling and election sure; 2) that he helps others to be saved.—The pious have these constant gains: 1) Righteousness, from faith in the grace of God; 2) joy in God, raised above all anxiety and desire for the world; 3) the peace of God which passeth all understanding.—A pious man may be sorely afflicted in the world, yet he will never feel that he is forsaken by God.—The righteous have always joy and peace.—The worst darkness is that of the soul which believes it can see no future good.—He who lives in the favor of God, serves the Master by day, commits himself to God’s protection by night, and so has joy and peace.—Our happiness does not consist in eating and drinking, but in having a gracious God and a good conscience.
STARKE: Prayer is the comfort of a sorrowful heart; for we know that God hears our prayers.—When we pray to God we should, as it were, support the prayer with the previous mercies of God; for experience worketh hope, which maketh not ashamed, Rom. 5:14.—Whoever would be great with God must be unimportant in the eyes of the world.—All that worldlings esteem to be great is only vanity, nothingness, and perishable; when they regard it as in the highest degree necessary, yet it does not last, or stand the test.—God’s ways, in dealing with His own, are not crooked ways, which lead to hell with lies and deceit of a corrupt nature, but He leads them secretly, in holy truth and wisdom.—All disorderly affections are sinful; learn, Christian, to be still, and to judge with composure that which would move you to anger.—The sacred fire of indignation for the honor of God and against evil, must on no account be confounded with the strange fire of carnal anger.—He, who is honored with the favor of God, can easily overcome the contempt of the world.—That security which is to be condemned, comes from the flesh, but that which is blessed comes from faith, and produces true peace.—There is no true rest or safety to be found without communion with God; no hurtful disquiet or danger need be feared when under the gracious protection of the Master.—LUTHER: What can goodness have, which God has not?—BUGENHAGEN: No one can truly hope in God, and trust in Him alone, without offering to Him the sacrifices of righteousness.—OSIANDER: When we suffer similar need, we may yet be cheerful, if only we have a gracious God.—He who trusts in God is safe from all danger, or is sure, in the midst of danger, of having by His action a safe issue.—SELNEKKER: DO what is commanded thee,—do not mind the cunning and artfulness of others,—commit all that to the righteous God,—He will smooth all difficulties.—MOLLER: Many who seek rest, sin through impatience, because they do not console themselves with the mercy of God.—ARNDT: The joy of the believer should not come from the flesh, but from God alone.—BAKE: I have prayed, and pray still, and will pray all my life; I will die a suppliant.—FRISCH: The movements of the heart cannot be prevented so far as their first impulses are concerned; yet a believer may refrain from giving his approbation, and prevent an outbreak in gesture, word, or deed.—TAUBE: The blessed relation of a child of God to the world: 1) He is alone in the world, but depends entirely upon his God; 2) he testifies before the world of their evil life and ways, as well as of his God and his religious life, and both in the spirit of truth and love; (3) he rests in God, with a joy and peace, which the world does not possess or know.
[MATT. HENRY: Godly men are God’s separated, sealed ones; He knows them that are His, hath set His image and superscription upon them.—SPURGEON: Observe that David speaks first to God, and then to man. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men, if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.—Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. He who chose us for Himself, will surely hear our prayers. The Lord’s elect shall not be condemned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David was king by Divine decree, and we are the Lord’s people in the same manner; let us tell our enemies to their faces that they fight against God and destiny, when they strive to overthrow our souls.—Stay, rash sinner, stay, ere thou take the last leap. Go to thy bed and think upon thy ways. Ask counsel of thy pillow, and let the quietude of the night instruct thee! Throw not away thy soul for naught! Let reason speak ! Let the clamorous world be still awhile, and let thy poor soul plead with thee to bethink thyself before thou seal its fate and ruin it forever.—Corn and wine are but fruits of the world, but the light of God’s countenance is the ripe fruit of heaven. “Thou art with me,” is a far more blessed cry than “Harvest home.” Let my granary be empty, I am yet full of blessing, if Jesus Christ smiles upon me; but if I have all the world, I am poor without Him.—Sweet Evening Hymn! I shall not sit up to watch, through fear, but I will lie down; and then I will not lie awake, listening to every rustling sound, but I will lie down in peace, and sleep, for I have naught to fear. Better than bolts or bars is the protection of the Lord.—A quiet conscience is a good bed-fellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds. They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.—SPURGEON’S TREASURY OF DAVID.—THOMAS WATSON: We set apart things that are precious; the godly are set apart as God’s peculiar treasure (Psalm 135:4); as His garden of delight (Song Sol. 4:12); as His royal diadem, (Is. 43:3); the godly are the excellent of the earth, (Ps. 16:3); comparable to fine gold, (Lam. 4:2); double refined, (Zech. 13:9). They are the glory of creation, (Is. 46:13). ORIGEN compares the saints to sapphires and crystals; God calls them jewels (Mal. 3:17).—C. A. B.]
[Wordsworth, in accordance with this view, which seems to be more correct, speaking to his followers: “Ye are now excluded from the privilege of access to God’s altar on Mount Zion: but still you may offer sacrifices of righteousness, the sacrifice of the heart. Offer sacrifices of righteousness in mercy and meekness, not with hands stained with blood.”—C. A. B.]
[De Wette supposes that the Psalmist reflects upon the many who suffer with him, and includes them in his prayer. The prayer is the optative expressing the longings of their soul and his own. “O that we might see prosperity.”—C. A. B.]
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.