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David prayeth, exhorteth, and declareth his joy in God.
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 Oye 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 up
on 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.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Of adding prayer and piety to our confidence in God.
On what occasion David wrote this fourth psalm is not known with certainty; but very probably it was during the time when he was cast out from Jerusalem, by the usurpation of Absalom his son. He calls on God in prayer, saying, "Hear me when I call.” We must ask if we would have. We must seek if we would find. We must knock in order for it to be opened unto us. See Matt. 7.7. "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousWe must regard God as Him that justifies us, if we would have his ears open to our prayers. "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;" David might refer to his many deliverances from the hand of Saul; we may think of God's calling us at the first out of the world into the Church, making us children of grace, translating us into the kingdom of his dear Son, keeping us out of many a temptation which might have been too strong for us, upholding us in many which would else have prevailed against us, when we have fallen lifting us up, and when we have been lifted up holding us upright; all these things we may make mention of, and say, therefore, O God, "have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer."
But he that prays must be ready in due season, and according to his station, age, and office, to exhort also. David appeals to those who were turning his glory into shame, exulting perhaps in his dethronement, and asks them, how long they would continue so to do, and to love vanity, to cleave to vain Absalom, and to seek after leasing or falsehood, a false allegiance to a traitor king. "O ye sons of men," says David. When we appeal unto each other, we may rather say, O ye who have been made children
of God. We may put each other in remembrance of our exceeding great privileges as Christians, and use these as a powerful argument against turning the glory of our Saviour into shame, and loving the vain pleasures of the present life, and deserting the truth of God for the falsehood of mammon. But know, we may add, "know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." It is one thing to be set apart as a Christian; it is another thing to be set apart by the Lord for Himself as a godly Christian. Privileges possessed are precious; but their value if not improved is of no avail to their possessor. His treasure is locked up; his talent is not improved; he has only so much the more to answer for: and when in the end he is inclined to call, Lord, Lord, what reply can he expect but such as this, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity?" Matt. 7. 23. It is well for us to call to mind not unfrequently these terrors of the Lord. There is a close connexion between "stand in awe" and "sin not." And when in solitude and darkness we realize the presence of the Lord, as we sometimes do far more effectually than in broad daylight and in company, when we feel Him to be actually present to our souls in all his divine majesty, we can scarcely conceive it possible, that at such a moment, and when under such impressions, we could venture to sin deliberately. But with fear we must ever combine truth; and we must offer the sacrifices of righteousness, as well as put our trust in the Lord. These two things also are most intimately connected, however vehemently men endeavour to dissever them. They who take most pains to serve God diligently, will be the most deeply convinced of the necessity of putting their trust in Christ; and they who most truly believe in Christ, will be most earnestly desirous to offer unto God, for his sake, themselves, their souls and bodies, which is their reasonable service.
In the troubles of David, many would have recommended him to despond. But he persisted in trusting and praying, and hence derived joy and peace. There are many who take the like desponding view of our spiritual difficulties, and who are apt to be often saying, "Who will shew us any good?" But thanks be to God for his grace, there is much more of real piety amongst us than the world is willing to believe. He has lifted up the light of his countenance on many of us. There are many who, whether rich or poor, enjoy a gladness far better than that which comes of this world's goods, and who both lay them down in peace and sleep, with a thankful conviction in their hearts that it is God who makes them dwell in safety. A happy proof of confidence in his protection, seeing how like our sleep is to our death! May we often call to mind, as we lie upon our beds, who it is that can make us die as well as live in safety; who it is that can enable us to sleep in Jesus, and to awake in the likeness of his resurrection!
David prayeth, and professeth faith in God's mercy.
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
4 For thou art not a God that
workers of iniquity.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy
righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
1 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice : let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
Of praying for the fulfilment of God's righteous judgment. If this psalm was written, as is most probable, whilst David was suffering by the rebellion of his son, we may interpret it as shewing us, in a striking manner, his abhorrence of the sin, which had brought upon him this painful visitation. First he approaches God as a humble suppliant, praying earnestly, and declaring that his voice should be heard in prayer early in the morning, as a proof of his earnestness and anxiety to be heard. "For thou art not a God," he adds, "that hath pleasure in wickedness neither shall evil dwell with thee." This implies that he knew he had been penitent, and believed that he had been forgiven. Else he would not have said, I will "direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." He would still have been overpowered with a sense of shame and confusion of face, in approaching the divine majesty, had he not trusted that God had blotted out his transgressions. But now he could draw nigh to God, foolish and wicked as he once had been, and yet say to Him, with entire acquiescence, "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity." And though his
lips had been once stained with falsehood, and his hands with blood, he could glorify the holiness of God, in his declared detestation of such practices, saying, "Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." Thus with his own lips did he justify that revealed will of God, against which he had been a grievous transgressor. Thus did he testify as against himself, that God's commandments, even those which he had most signally transgressed, were not grievous but good.
"But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." This had made all the difference with David, a sense of the multitude of God's mercy, united with a reverential fear. He still remembered his own sins; but he remembered them as instances in which God had been pleased to exercise his goodness in blotting them out from his book. Though God remembered them no longer, David so much the more frequently called them to mind, that the recollection might prove a salutary warning to himself, and a profitable occasion of giving glory to the Lord. But not so did his enemies regard them. It was their delight to cast them in his teeth. Even they, who as long as he had enjoyed prosperity, flattered him with their tongue, now proved by their malicious revilings, that there was no faithfulness in their mouth. And no doubt this was the burden of their reproaches, that he who had been so great a professor of godliness, had fallen into sins so gross; a favourite topic always with the wicked; an occasion which the ungodly gladly seize, to triumph, as they profanely think, over the cause of God and godliness, by dwelling on the lamentable fall of such as have avowed themselves servants of the Lord.
But let them not think to triumph long. Let them hear the words of the sentence which hangs over their heads, as expressed in the devout prayer of David: "Destroy thou them, Ó God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." Yes, we may call this a devout prayer, considering that David prayed for that which God had promised to do; for God had promised to bless the righteous, yea, and also to destroy the wicked. And accordingly our Lord teaches us to pray to God, "thy kingdom come;" though we know that the coming of that kingdom, for which He bids us pray, must be attended with the everlasting destruction of all those who shall be proved to be his enemies. Oh, let us then, as He teaches, at the same time pray, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matt. 6. 10. Let us pray that those who are now at enmity with God, may, before the day of judg ment, be reconciled unto Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
David prayeth for mercy, health, peace, and triumph.
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in
in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? 4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity: for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.
10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed
6 I am weary with my groan suddenly.
The fearful end which awaits the enemies of the Lord.
See here the depth of the believer's sorrows, when suffering under conviction of sin, and under the chastisements which God in his mercy inflicts upon sinners. Hear how earnestly David in these circumstances prayed, that God would not rebuke him in anger, nor chasten him in sore displeasure. Learn from him, thou sinner, that art suffering as he did, learn that it is allowed thee to plead with God thy weakness and thy pains, thy agonies of body or of soul. Richly as thou hast deserved the worst that God lays on thee, He will not be displeased at thy asking Him to shorten the time, and to spare thee the extremity of thy chastisement. He will not fail to hear thy prayer, if thou askest with faith, and in the name of Christ, saying, "Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake." Neither will it be presumptuous to plead, as an argument for the continuance of life, that in death, and in the grave, there is not the same opportunity, as here in this present world, for thankful celebration of God's goodness. So that unless He spares sinners for a time, they may never be able to give proof of their true repentance and amendment, by a life of thankfulness and praise.
But, alas, where can we find penitents who weep as David did ; whose couch is watered with their tears; whose eyes are consumed because of grief, and whose grief, as far as it is caused by their enemies, arises from the thought that they are enemies of God? Must we not here apply to our own times the words of St. Paul to the Philippians, all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." Phil. 2. 21. We cannot, as the apostle would have us,