Bible Commentaries
Psalms 4

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-8


Confidence in the presence of enemies as the result of conscious integrity, and the experience of God's mercy.

Confidence in God, in the presence of enemies, flowing from the consciousness of integrity, and the experience of God's mercy in former troubles.

(v. 1) The psalm opens with a prayer that expresses the confidence of the soul in God. Conscious of a walk in separation from surrounding evil, the psalmist can appeal to God as One who knows the righteousness of his walk, and who is, at the same time, the source of his righteousness. Moreover his confidence in God flows from the knowledge of God's mercy proved in former trials. Experience had taught the psalmist that seasons of pressure had been occasions of soul-enlargement. Thus the soul is encouraged to look for God's mercy in present trials.

(vv. 2-5) Having stayed his soul in God, the psalmist turns, with appeals and warnings, to the ungodly. The expression “sons of men” indicates men of high degree, and alludes to the great ones of the earth who have rejected God's Anointed ( Psa_2:2 ). The King was Israel's distinctive glory. In rejecting the King, the sons of men had turned the glory of the godly remnant into shame. As a result the nation was given over to vanity and a lie. Their own counsels and ways would prove but empty deceptions. The rejection of God's Anointed leads to the strong delusion under the man of sin ( 2 Thess. 2 ).

Further they are warned that in opposing the godly, they are setting themselves against those whom the Lord has set apart for Himself, and whose prayer the Lord would hear.

Finally they are warned to “Tremble and sin not” (JND). Let them tremble before a righteous God and forsake their sins. Let the loneliness of the night watches be an occasion for self-judgment. And having repented of their evil let them offer sacrifices of righteousness, and put their trust in the Lord.

(vv. 6-8) The psalmist closes by unburdening his soul before the Lord. Looking at the prevailing evil and the apparent prosperity of the wicked, many would be tempted to say, “Who will shew us any good?” Faith, however, sees that the favour of God - the light of His countenance - enjoyed by a suffering remnant, is far better than the outward prosperity of the wicked. The favour of God brings gladness into the heart which far exceeds the enjoyment of temporal blessings. In the enjoyment of this favour the soul can lie down in peace and security, untroubled by over-anxiety as to the evil of the world. The enemy, as in the last psalm, may number ten thousands, but “Jehovah, alone” can make the godly dwell in safety (JND).

Prophetically the psalm looks on to the circumstances described in Psalm 2 - the future apostasy against God and Christ - and describes the experiences of the separate man of Psalm 1 (cp. Psa_1:1-2 with Psa_4:3-4 ). Practically the principles of the psalm hold good for the Christian in passing through a vain world where evil is in the ascendant in that which professes the Name of Christ on the earth. When “evil men and seducers...wax worse and worse,” unless confidence in God is sustained, the believer may be tempted to say, “Who will show us any good?” The way this confidence is preserved is very blessedly set forth in the psalm, so that the soul may learn, in the midst of failure on every hand, God has set apart the godly for Himself; He hears their cry; and He alone is able to sustain the soul.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 4". "Smith's Writings". 1832.