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Augustine quotes this Psalm as of special value, and worthy to be sung aloud before the whole world for an expression of Christian courage, and a testimony of the peace God can give in outward and inward trouble ( Conf. IX. 4). 'I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety'.
James Melville quoted it, among others, when he was dying, 'This being done, he comforteth himself with sundrie speeches out of the Psalms, quhilk he rehearsit in Hebrew; as, namely, ane speech out of Psalms 4:0 th, "Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon me". Psalms 27:0 th, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, quhat can I fear?" Psalms 23:0 rd, "Albeit I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet will I fear none evil, because God is with me". The candell being behind back, he desired that it should be brought before him, that he might see to die. By occasioune thereof, he remembered that Scripture, Psalms 18:0 th, "The Lord will lighten my candell; He will enlighten my darkness".'
References. III. International Critical Commentary, vol. i. p. 24. IV. Ibid. pp. 24, 29. IV. 4. R. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. i. p. 17. IV. 6. Archdeacon Sinclair, Christ and Our Times, p. 1. R. Flint, Sermons and Addresses, p. 82.
Sun of My Soul, Thou Saviour Dear
I. To go to sleep is a thing of exceeding solemnity, because, when we close our eyes, we cannot be sure that our waking will be in this world. There is only a step between the present life, which in the daytime seems to be the only real life, and the life to come. II. It is the height of meanness as well as of folly to lie down without contemplating the goodness of Him who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth, and to Whom alone we are indebted for the safety of our persons and dwellings. In this age of ours, which makes an idol of Action, and which clamours for rapidly gained results, Meditation and especially that kind of meditation which passes into prayer has practically become a lost faculty.
III. I can suggest no more effectual remedy for this spiritual atrophy than the reading or singing of an evening hymn before we close our eyes in sleep. I prescribe an evening hymn because there is no season that lends itself like the night to holding converse with the things belonging to the spirit.
There are three great evening hymns in our language, and without awarding the palm to any one of them, it may be observed that 'Sun of my Soul,' Keble's greatest hymn, is the work of the most original and the most popular of English sacred poets, and, according to Julian, 'one of the foremost hymns in the English language'.
W. Taylor, Twelve Favourite Hymns, p. 115.
References. IV. 8. J. Keble, Sermons for Holy Week, p. 230. C. J. Vaughan, Voices of the Prophets, p. 75. S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 277. A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 246. J. Parker, The Ark of God, p. 125. I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 111. S. Cox, Expositor (2nd Series), vol. iii. p. 178. Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii. p. 356.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany