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Psalms 4:3 . Him that is godly. חסיךְ chasik, merciful. The literal reading is by far the best, because it designates godliness by the fruits of piety.
Psalms 4:4 . Stand in awe. St. Paul here follows the LXX. Be ye angry, and sin not. Ephesians 4:9. The rabbins call this a psalm to the Messiah, whose enemies perished as the rebels against David.
This psalm is directed to the chief musician on Neginoth; and therefore is thought to have been sung at one time, and accompanied by music played with the hand, as the harp and the cymbals. It seems to have been composed for public worship, and after the painful affair of Absalom.
David here calls upon God; and having secured the help of omnipotence, he was not solicitous as to the issue of his contests with wicked men. They might love leasing, and distract their minds with a thousand plots; but he in simplicity would seek the help of God alone.
The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself. He is his son, his friend, his covenant servant. The Lord knows his voice when he cries; he has heard it before; and all heaven is interested for his welfare.
The good man, confident of divine protection, bids the wicked stand in awe, and sin not. He appeals to past judgments on the hardened and ungodly, as the sure pledges that all the impenitent shall feel the heavy hand of God’s afflicting power. And if it was awful for the wicked to plot and revolt against David, how awful must it be for the infidel world to revolt against the Lord of glory.
The way to obtain pardon is reformation and piety. Offer sacrifices of righteousness; a broken spirit, and a contrite heart, God will not despise.
The number of those who groan beneath the yoke of sin, and sigh for happiness, is considerable. Many there be that say, Who will show us any good? They are dissatisfied with the pleasures and enjoyments of life. They find insufficiency to be the character of all created good. They are troubled at the recollection of their sins, and discouraged by the consideration of their weakness in resisting temptation. Therefore they sigh for the chief good; yea, for a happiness in God, and independent of every creature.
We learn lastly, that good men have found that joy for which the wicked sigh. Thou hast put gladness into my heart more than in the time that their corn and wine encreased. Religion has a joy which is unspeakable; it has a love which passeth knowledge. The emanations of God sometimes stream down into the believing heart, and in a single moment turn all past sorrows into gladness and exultation in the Lord. It is
“ What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, The soul’s calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy.” POPE.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent