The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 4

Psa 4:1

Psa 4: The companion to Psa 3, re rebellion of Absalom.


ANSWER ME: Cp Psa 3:4. In Hebrew, this is the name Shimei!

O MY RIGHTEOUS GOD: "The God who will vindicate me" (Isa 54:17; Jer 23:6; 33:16).

GIVE ME RELIEF FROM MY DISTRESS: "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress" (AV). "Enlarged" is related to an inheritance (Exo 34:24; Deu 19:8; Isa 54:2). David is thankful that his kingdom has been preserved in the past, and now he prays that God will keep it secure yet again.

Psa 4:2

MEN: "Beni ish" = "sons of men". Proud, "important" men -- princes, like Absalom, or the sons of Zeruiah. Cp "men of high degree" (Psa 62:9).

WILL YOU TURN MY GLORY INTO SHAME?: The glory of David's selection as king led to the downfall of Saul and his house, for which David was unjustly blamed (2Sa 16:7,8). Also, in becoming king, David was put in the way of receiving closer scrutiny and thus greater chastisement for his own sins. His sins re Bathsheba and Uriah brought shame on him, and led directly to the revolt of Absalom. Israel is condemned for changing the "glory" of God into the shame of idolatry (Psa 106:20; Rom 1:23).

(NT) Christ's glory was turned to shame: (a) a procession of honor, in which Roman legionaries, Jewish priests, men and women, took a part, he himself bearing His cross; (b) derisive shouts were his only acclamations, and cruel taunts His only hymns of praise; (c) they presented him with the wine of honor -- the criminal's stupefying death-drink; (d) a guard of honor, who showed their esteem for him by gambling over His garments; (e) a "throne" of honor was provided for him upon the cross; and (f) the title of honor was nominally "King of the Jews," but this title was distinctly repudiated, and they really called him "King of thieves," by freeing Barabbas, and by placing Jesus in the place of highest shame between two thieves. His glory was thus in all things turned into shame by the sons of men, but such "shame" would yet be his true "glory"!

DELUSIONS: The empty vengeance desired by Abishai (2Sa 16:10; 19:22); the foolish pretensions of Absalom (2Sa 14:25,26). Cp the vain thoughts of Psa 2:1.

FALSE GODS: "Leasing" (AV), "lying" (NEB), "falsehood" (RV). See parallelism of Psa 5:6.

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 4:3

SET APART: Sw Exo 8:22; 9:4; 11:7 to describe Israel separated from Egyptians. Death in houses of Egyptians, but the Israelites lay down to sleep in peace (v 8 here)!

THE GODLY: "We shall never attain salvation without developing a godly mind. A godly mind does not come naturally. It comes only by great effort and dedication and desire. We could be 'in the Truth' one hundred years, and still not have a godly mind. A godly mind is full of God, all the time. And it is not just sentiment, though that is vitally important. It is godly knowledge, deep knowledge from His Word reverently studied and pondered, which is equally important. A godly mind lives in the atmosphere of God. It sees God everywhere. Every creature has its natural habitat -- the surroundings where it is comfortable, and healthy, and happy. The natural habitat of the godly mind is God Himself: here only it is at home and at peace" (GVG).

THE LORD WILL HEAR WHEN I CALL TO HIM: David's own response to his prayer of Psa 4:1.

Psa 4:4

IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN: "Stand in awe, and sin not" (AV). "Ragaz" sig to quiver, either in fear (Exo 15:14; Deu 2:25) or anger (Gen 45:24; 2Ki 19:27,28; Pro 29:9; Isa 28:21; Eze 16:43). Cited by Paul in Eph 4:26: "Be ye angry..." Shimei and his cursing of David? Cp 2Sa 16:9,10; cp 2Sa 19:22. (Also cp the request of the "sons of thunder" in Luk 9:54-56.)

WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR BEDS, SEARCH YOUR HEARTS: "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph 4:26). Eph 4:27 adds: "Do not give the devil a foothold"; no counterpart in Psa 4, but the historical context suggests: the "devil" Abishai encourages David to an act of vengeance, but is rebuked by David (2Sa 16:10; cp 2Sa 19:22: "satan"!).

BE SILENT: Submit to whatever trials God has put on you, for "the Lord is in his holy temple" (Hab 2:20). See Rom 8:28-39.

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 4:5

RIGHT SACRIFICES: "Sacrifices of righteousness", burnt offerings (Deu 33:19; Lev 1:1-17), voluntary offerings associated with righteousness rather than sin (Psa 50:14; 51:19).

Psa 4:6

As in Psa 3:2, chronic complainers and agitators, ready prey for Absalom's blandishments (2Sa 15:4).

WHO CAN SHOW US ANY GOOD?: There was now no priest with David (see 2Sa 15:32-37) to pronounce the blessing of Num 6:24-26 ("Let the light of your face shine upon us") -- so David must speak for himself.

FACE (of God): In Psalms, always ref God's presence in ark/tabernacle/temple: see VL, Psalms, God's face.

Psa 4:7

The assurance of God's protection brings greater joy to the righteous man than all manner of material bounty brings to the secular man! "It is better to feel God's favor one hour in our repenting souls, than to sit whole ages under the warmest sunshine than this world affords."

GRAIN AND NEW WINE: Prosperity (Deu 33:28; Isa 55:1).

Psa 4:8

Cp Psa 3:5.

FOR YOU ALONE, O LORD, MAKE ME DWELL IN SAFETY: "Unafraid" (NEB). "I need no one but You, Lord, to keep me safe." "Alone" here, a contrast with the "many" of v 6.

SUBSCRIPTION: "FOR THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC. FOR FLUTES": "Nehiloth": "Inheritance" (nahaloth: cp LXX and Thirtle), or "a wind instrument, or flute" (from "chalal", to drill through). The Lord is the true inheritance of the righteous (vv 3,6,7; cp Eph 1:18), and thus the One to whom all their music should be directed.

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