Psalm 4—Talking To God And Men Part 2 of 4 (series: Lessons of Psalms)
by John Lowe
The wicked run after vanity. The lure of gold and the glitter of honor is, to the men of sin, a sweet morsel. The true Christian prefers to go outside the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. He prefers shame and spittle with Christ, to worldly honor and pomp. How often are the rich immeasurably poor; and the poor immeasurably rich!
And seek after leasing?
By “leasing,” is meant "a lie"; or that which deceives, as a lie does: and such were all consultations and schemes of the great men of Israel against David: and so the Jews may be said to seek after a lie, when they seek after another Messiah besides Jesus of Nazareth: for every one of them proves to be a false Messiah. And the same can be said of all who seek after and embrace false doctrines, errors, and heresies, and are wanting to believe them. Now the psalmist suggests that these great men were obstinate, and continued in these sinful practices; and that in the final analysis, all their efforts would prove to be vain and fruitless.
The wicked will run after the lie of the devil, faster than they run after the truth of God. They will seek false gain, more than the lasting riches. They follow the lustings of the flesh, more than the leadings of the Spirit. I loved my father. But he was a terribly prejudiced man and I think he hated liars more than anything else. I heard him say more than once, “That man will lie even if the truth would serve him better.”
How great is the folly of the ungodly! Satan comes to them in the cunning of deceitfulness, with signs and lying wonders. The ungodly refuse the love of the truth, and therefore God sends upon them strong delusions that they may believe a lie.
Let us not go coveting after the things of this world, but seek the things which are freely given us of God.
On this word; see Psalm 3:2.
3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
But know that the LORD
In Hebrew, “the LORD” is represented by Jehovah, the Scripture name of the Supreme Being. This is a name peculiarly appropriate to the eternal Spirit, the unchangeable God, who describes himself thus, I am that I am.
Hath set apart him that is godly for himself
“Set apart” as it is used here means “chosen.” David could say, “You have set me apart, and wonderfully separated me, bypassing the royal family, and have called me by name, and chosen me out of all the tribes and families of Israel, and out of my father’s family, though I was the youngest of them, and thought by Samuel and by my father, I was the most unlikely to receive this honor.
David knew that he and other godly people were set apart for God. There are many reasons why we set things apart.
• We set things apart for our own enjoyment
• We set things apart for greater purity
• We set things apart for special service
For all these reasons and more, God sets us apart unto Himself.
“For himself” means “taken under His peculiar care and protection”; and “him that is godly” means “the man that truly fears, loves, and serves God. It is generally supposed that David spoke here primarily of himself, and of his own title to the throne; that he is the one meant by the godly man, whom God had set apart for himself, and who did not usurp or assume for himself a dignity that was not selected for him by God; and therefore the opposition they farmed against him and to his advancement was very criminal, inasmuch as they fought against God: therefore, in the end, all their efforts would prove vain and ineffective.
The greatest of all blessings is that of belonging to that special group of human beings whom God has set apart from all mankind as his very own people. God will nurture and encourage his children; he will hear them when they pray; he will forgive their sins and mistakes, provided only that they repent, acknowledge their lapses and seek the Father's loving forgiveness.
David was a godly man as well as God’s man, but his enemies maligned and denounced him, as if he were a deplorable hypocrite and impostor, who only pretended to be religious for his own ambitious ends. But David could say, “God has called me a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14); and I believe that both my own conscience and the general course of my life bear me witness that I am what He said of me.” David gives himself this testimony, not out vanity, but merely because he was forced to do it for his own vindication, because of the lies of his enemies.
The LORD will hear when I call unto him.
God has, in like manner, set apart the Lord Jesus for Himself, that merciful One, Him that is godly, and those that attempt to hinder His advancement will certainly be confounded, for the Father will hear him always. But, as has been intimated above, David certainly meant his words to be understood of every godly man. All the godly are God’s chosen, or elect people; His separate and sealed ones, whom He knows to be His, on whom He hath stamped His image, and who hear and obey His words. These belong to the Lord, who distinguishes them with uncommon favors. They have a special interest in heaven, are under God’s peculiar care; those that touch them touch the apple of His eye; and He will make their persecutors know it sooner or later; and they shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day when I make up my jewels. “Understand this,” says the psalmist, “let godly people know it, and let them never alienate themselves from Him who chose them and set them apart; let wicked people know it, and take heed how they hurt those whom God protects.
“The Lord will hear” when I call to Him: The ungodly have a disaster waiting for them, but the godly have a great reward waiting for them. This is why David knows the Lord will hear when he calls (prays) to Him. Each Christian should have the same assurance. They should be confident that God will hear their prayers. When prayer seems ineffective it is worth it to take a spiritual inventory to see if there is a reason for unanswered prayer. The Bible tells us there are many reasons why prayer may not be answered, such as:
• Not abiding in Jesus (John 15:7)
• Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21)
• Failure to Fast (Matthew 17:21)
• A Bad Marriage Relationship (1 Peter 3:7)
• Unconfessed Sin (James 5:16)
• Lying and Deceitfulness (Psalms 17:1)
• Lack of Bible Reading and Bible Teaching (Proverbs 28:9)
• Trusting in the Length or Form of Prayer (Matthew 6:7)
David’ message to his enemies is, “The Lord will hear when I call unto Him; therefore I am assured that God will hear my prayers, and save me out of your hands. But know this; that you fight not against me, but against the Lord.”
4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Stand in awe, and sin not:
Awe is defined as an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. But in this case, the emotion is anger; “Be angry, and do not sin.” With the ungodliness around him, David had reason to be angry but he had no reason to sin. He reminds himself to not sin in his anger, and to find consolation in meditation before the LORD; but he may also have said this to his own followers as a warning against excessive anger and its natural result, undue violence. Many think the apostle took Ephesians 4:26 from here—“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Compare this injunction by Paul with what David says next: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Anger cools if a little time is allowed to pass—if a night is used for reflection, and no action is taken until tomorrow, the controversy, whatever it may be, may be settled without resorting to violence, or saying or doing something that might be regretted later.
Commune with your own heart upon your bed,
“Commune (or meditate) with your own heart” is similar to those common sayings we use today—"Listen to your better judgment," or "Use your common (good) sense."
Meditate within your heart: David speaks of the Christian practice of meditation, not the eastern practice of meditation. In Christian meditation, we fill our heart and mind with God’s word. In eastern meditation the idea is to empty the heart and mind, leaving it open for deceiving spirits.
Communicate with your own heart; when you have no one to speak with, talk to yourself. Ask yourself, “Why was I made, what kind of life have I led, how much time have I wasted, whose love have I abused, and do I deserve God’s wrath?” Look back over your life and ask yourself, “How have I improved my talents, how true or false have I been to the Lord’s trust, what provisions have I made for the hour of my death, and what preparations have I made for the Great Day when I must appear before my Lord?”
“Upon your bed” implies secrecy, and it is the best time to make these inquiries of our self. The silent night is a good time to speak to yourself and to God. When we lie upon our bed is a good time to meditate on what has transpired during the day, since the dark prevents our eyes from being distracted, and the silence frees our ears from the noise that keeps us from concentrating. The most successful searches have been made in the night time, when the soul is completely shut up in the earthly house of the body, and there are no visits from strangers to interrupt our thoughts. Surely, then, the bed is not a bad place to examine and search into the state of the soul.