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The Biblical Illustrator Psalm 4

The Biblical Illustrator Psalm 4

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Published by glennpease
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Commentary by many authors

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 10, 2011
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THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR PSALM 4PSALM IV.Vem. 1-8. Hear me when I call, God of my righteousness. — A gentle remon-ttranee : — This Psalm is mainly a gentle, earnest remonstrance with antagonists,seeking to win them to a better mind. The cry for an answer by deed is based onthe name and on the past acts of God. The pronoun "my" is best attached to"righteousness," as the consideration that God is righteous is less relevant thanthat He is the source of the Psalmist's righteousness. Since He is so. He may beexpected to vindicate it by answering prayer with deliverance. He who feels thatall good in himself comes from God may be quite sure that, sooner or later, and bysome means or other, God will witness to His own work. The strophe divisionkeeps together the prayer and the beginning of the remonstrance to opponents, anddoes so in order to emphasise the eloquent, sharp juxtaposition of God and the"sons of men." Ver. 6 may be the continuance of the address to the enemies,carrying on the exhortation to trust. Vers. 7 and 8 are separated from ver. 6 bytheir purely personal reference. The Psalmist returns to the tone of his prayer inver. 1 ; only, that petition has given place, as it should do, to possession and confi-dent thankfulness. The Psalmist here touches the bottom, the foundation fact onwhich every life that is not vanity must be based, and which verifies itself in everylife that is so based. The glad heart possessing Jehovah can lay itself down andsleep, though foes stand round. The last words of the Psalm flow restfully like alullaby, (a. Maclaren, D.D.) The great trials of life: — I. Peaying. 1. Arecognition of God's righteousness. He might have thought upon God now as the" author " of his righteousness, and felt that all that was righteous in his own heartand life came from God ; or as the vindicator of his righteousness who alone wasableto defend his righteous cause ; or as the administrator of righteousness, conductingHis government upon righteous principles and bringing even upon him only thesuffer-ings he justly deserved. There is something deep in the soul of man which leads himto appeal to the righteous God when he feels himself to be the victim of fraud orviolence. Even Christ Himself did so. 2. A remembrance of God's goodness. "Thouhast enlarged me when I was in distress. " The reference is to some deliverancewhichhe had experienced. He remembered, perhaps, the goodness of God to him when, inthe field guarding his father's flocks, he was delivered out of the paw of the lionandout of the paw of the bear ; or His goodness to him in delivering him from thegiant of Philistia. The memory of God's past mercies to him gave courage to his
 
heart and an argument in his prayer now, Because God has helped us we expectHim to help us again, and thus we plead. ot so with man. The more our fellow-being has helped us the less reason we have to expect His aid. Man's capacity forhelp is limited. The capability of God is unbounded. 3- An invocation of God'sfavour. "... Have mercy upon me and hear my prayer." Mercy is what wewant. Mercy to forgive, to renovate, to strengthen the soul, to labour and to wait.II. Rebuking. David having addressed the righteous God in prayer, hurls hisrebuke at his enemies. His rebuke is marked — 1. By boldness. "... ye sonsof men" — ye great men of the land — ". . . how long will ye turn my glory intoshame, how long will ye love vanity and seek after leasing ? " In this appeal thespeaker's sense of honour, justice, truth seems to have run into a passion that firedand flooded his whole being. 2. By alarm. "... Know that the Lord hath setapart him that is godly for Himself : the Lord will hear when I call unto Him, "which means, ' ' Know this, the Lord will take care of me whom He has electedKing to serve Himself, and He will hear when I call upon Him." Your oppositionla futile. Beware, you are rebelling not merely against me, but against Omnipo-tence itself. It is a terrible thing to oppress or injure God's elected ones. 3. Byauthority. "... Stand in awe, and sin not, commune with your own heart oneO THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. [psalm IT.your bed, and be still. Selah." — Mind this. This command includes three things.(1) Cease from your rage. Let your insurrectionary passion be hushed. The soultinder wrong passions is like a rudderless bark driven by the tempest ; shipwreck isall but inevitable. (2) Retire to thoughtfulness. ' ' Commune with your own heartnpon your bed, and be still." It is in man's own soul that God meets with him,and commtines with him as He did of old before the mercy-seat. (3) Practisereligion. "... Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in theLord." What is righteous sacrifice ? The consecration of our energies, our self,our all, to the service of justice, truth, and God. "... The sacrifices of Godare a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart Thou wilt not despise."III. Teaching. "There be many that say, who wiU show us any good? Lordlift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us." 1. The universal craving of humanity. " . . . . There are many that say unto us," &c. Men are everywherecraving for happiness. From shops and sanctuaries, from the peasant's cot and theprince's castle, from the bush of savages and the bench of senators, from all landsand lips the cry is heard, "Who will show us any goodi" We are childrenwalking in the dark, who will show us the way ; we are dying with thirst, who willmoisten our fevered lips ; we are starving with hunger, who will give us any bread%
 
Man, the world over, feels that he has not what he wants. 2. The only satisfactionof humanity. What is it ? Fame, wealth, sensual pleasure, superstitious obser-vances ? o, these have been tried a thousand times, and failed. Here it is :" Lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance," which means the conscious presenceand favour of God. IV. Exulting. "... Thou hast put gladness in my heartmore than in the time that their com and their wine increased. " Some render thisfrom the time in which their corn aud wine increased, supposing David to refer tothe hour when abundant supplies began to come into him, an exile at Mahanaim(2 Sam. xvi. 1, xvii. 28). This may be the correct version. The language in,either version expresses the feelings of a soul happy in God. 1. God made himinwardly happy, even in his poverty. He had lost for a time his palace and hiskingdom, and was dependent upon the supplies of friends. Yet he was happy, andwho made him happy ? "... Thou hast put gladness in my heart." God alonecan make us happy anywhere and anywhen. "... Although the fig tree shallnot blossom," &c. (Hab. iii. 17). What does Paul say? "... I glory in tribu-lation." Martyrs have sung in dungeons, and triumphed in flames. 2. God madehim consciously secure. His enemies counted their millions. His death theydesired. Yet what does he say? — ". . . I will both lay me down in peace, andsleep." God was his refuge and strength, &c. " . . . If God be for us, who can beagainst us ? " Learn from this poem where happiness alone can be found. It is inGod. An ancient Italian author, in one of his romantic legends, tells us of a tree,many branched, and covered apparently with delectable bunches of fruit ; butwhososhook that tree in order to possess the fruit, found, too late, that not fruit, butstones of crushing weight came down upon his head. An emblem this of the tree of imholy pleasure. It is many-branched, it is attractive in aspect, its boughs bendwith rich clusters of what seems to be delicious fruit, the millions of the worldgather round it, and, with eager hands, shake it in order if possible to taste theluscious fruit. But what is the result of their efforts ? Stones come tumbling downthat paralyse the soul. "What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are nowashamed ; for the end of those things is death. " {Homilist. ) An appeal for mercyto the God of righteousness : — I. The Psalmist's appeal. This book is full of suchappeals. It is remarkable that there has come down to us a book full of the mostconfidingly, reverent, pleading utterances, addressed to the unseen and eternalGod.There are not many petitions in this Psalm. "Hear me when I call" — only"hear me," that is enough. Is there no heart to respond to us? Yes, He ishearing, that is enough. II. The grounds of the appeal. Two considerationson which the appeal is founded. 1. The character of God. ot simply "myrighteous God," but "God, the author of my righteousness, from Whom all that istrue and right in me has come." 2. And the goodness already experienced."Thou hast enlarged me." It was not untiied mercy. o one looks to history

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