Vol. 27 New Series February, 1966 No. 1
PSALM IV.

The fourth in the series of psalms (i.-viii.), under the heading, MAN and the SON of MAN. This is a psalm of confidence. It is the second of the SELAH psalms and, the preceding one having ended with this word, these two psalms are linked. In that Psalm iv. does not end with SELAH, Psalms iii. and iv. are set apart from those going before and those following.

The theme follows the subject of Psalm iii.; the experiences of king David, his reflections and prayers, as reports are brought to him from Jerusalem by Jonathan and Ahimaaz, the sons of Zadok and Abiathar, priest and high priest respectively. They received their information through their fathers from Hushai, David's friend who had returned to the court at Jerusalem with David's permission to spy on Ahitophel.

This IS the historical background to the psalm, but one must never lose sight, however, of the interpretation indicated in Acts 1:16, "The Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, spake before," and Luke 24:26, 27, 44, 45, when the Lord Jesus opened the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and to the eleven gathered later in Jerusalem.

The psalm, like the one before it, is divided into three parts by the word SELAH (vv. I and 2; 3 and 4; and 5-8), but at the same time, by the subject matter, into five parts (vv. I; 2; 3-5; 6; 7 and 8). It may be laid out thus for appraisement:

Again, as in Psalm iii., the superscription of Psalm v. should be the sub-scription of Psalm iv., and its meaning, as given by J. B. Rotherham is "relating to the inheritance." With this meaning in view, David, it is apparent, is looking on the spiritual aspect—his relationship to God, whereas the sons of men (or as J.B.R. has it, the sons of the great, Hebrew ISH, Greek ANER), who are evidently the false advisers of David's son Absalom, the leader of whom was Ahitophel, are considering only the material or ' the flesh.' These are all drawn away from God, "Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2. Timothy 3:5), "Who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18), turn God's glory into contempt and the practising of idolatry. In loving vanity they seek, by falsehood, to bolster up their nefarious schemes and economy. Their following would appear to be "the many (or multitudes)" of Psalm iii., 1,2 and Psalm iv., 6.

David expresses, as before these 'many,' his standing before God.

This is translated by J. B. Rotherham: "When I cry answer me O mine own righteous God," with a marginal note reverting to the A.V. "O God of my righteousness." David frequently spoke of his integrity, his righteousness, but he knew well enough what was expressed later by Isaiah "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). It would, therefore, appear that David also appreciated that any true righteousness or integrity was of God and not of himself. The Companion Bible, the text of which is the A.V. says) " My righteous God. Genitive of relation or object." Thus the c.B. supports J.B.R. J.B.R. translates it: Have mercy upon me seems to have in it an appeal to God's grace or favour, rather than asking on any covenant ground that his prayer may be heard and granted. It acknowledges that it is because when he, David, was in a tight corner God got him out of it, restoring him to his throne and City and to his People. David's heart goes out to his People. He sighs for their infidelity and going over to the usurper. He laments their emptiness their thoughtlessness and pursuit of falsehood. (Leasing is from an old Anglo-Saxon word LEASUNG). He has no thought of any vengeance rancour. They are forgiven, but he looks for a radical change of heart and their giving up those things that took them away from him into danger. "They were as sheep not having a shepherd" and he longed to lead them back to the fold.

SELAH—Look back again and think over what has just been said. Is there not ground enough for what is about to be told you.

It would seem that David felt the importance of his position as king of this people that had been so led astray and that he can bring them back, for that position gives him assurance that he will be heard of God in his prayer for them. But suddenly, in his meditation he is brought up sharply by the thought that $elf assurance is creeping in and that means sin. Sin of presumption must be avoided at all cost, self reliance is beginning to displace reliance upon God alone—Be silent before Him in awe.

SELAH—How near to the brink David had come, he knew only too well. That deserves thinking over again. And now to go on.

This is the only way in God's service. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, Thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:17). "Then thou wilt be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness" (verse 19). In between these two quotations David prays to God to act towards Jerusalem. He seems to have much in his mind that comes out later in Isaiah 30:15, "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength"; and also in Is. 32:17, " The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever (Heb. OLAM—with a view to the eon or age).

David seems to have reached a conclusion to take no action in retaliation against the usurper and his friends and advisers. He turns to God with the words, "Offer to God the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." This brings to mind the counsel of Proverbs 3:5, 6, " Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."

Psalm 145:12-15 indicates the prosperity of a "People, whose God is the Lord." But this is conditional on fearing and serving the Lord and not seeking after other Gods, but obeying His laws and keeping his commandments. Here were the People, the many, asking God to bless them without the conditions being fulfilled. They had departed from Him and banished their king, the man of God's own choice, to put in his place wicked and godless men. Now they were praying God to look upon them with favour. But David, who had considered punishing them, no longer contemplated doing so. That was a matter for God alone. David knew from Deut. 32:35 that vengeance belonged to the Lord and he was glad that it might so remain. As God had said to Samuel when the People rebelled against God in demanding a king of their choice, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them," stands good under these later circumstances. Who am I, therefore, to step in here and retaliate?

David has avoided the sin of self assurance, self reliance and presumption. He has drawn back in alarm in time; but not so the many. Whereas they will not realise their prayer, because they have not submitted themselves to the Lord, their presumption is vain and their expectation will not be fulfilled. With David, however, it is different;

The gladness in David's heart was a lasting joy in contrast to the happiness that had been the experience of the' many' at the time of the grain harvest and vintage, which were seasonal and of short duration. The joy was the outcome of an inward experience and close relationship with God. The happiness depended upon what happened outside. The one was full and satisfying; the other was unstable and transient. The latter was of works, but the former of faith. What a conclusion to the psalm! Again Isaiah must have echoed the thoughts of David: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye, in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (the rock of ages. marg.). Carrying the thought over into our own time, Phil. 4:5-7 sums up our counsel from the apostle Paul: "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (garrison) your hearts and minds through (EN=in, not DIA, through) Christ Jesus."

It has already, in this series, been asserted that one must not confine this, or any other psalm of David to David himself and the contemporary events, but one must look for its full interpretation in the Lord Jesus Christ. How clear is the story of the Lord's ministry in the light of this and the other psalms. How lucidly it explains His peace and quietness, confidence and courage in the face of His enemies. How complete was His communion with the Father and trust in His Father's will for Him.

The sub-script is, "To the chief musician upon Nehiloth." What can the reader make of this but to accept the opinion of so many, who know little more than they? Both the Companion Bible and J. B. Rotherham say that the meaning of NeHiloth or NeHaloth=concerning inheritances. The sentence, therefore, becomes, "To the overseer regarding inheritances." The C.B. goes on to say, 'Referring to Jehovah's favour as being the true inheritance of godly Israelites, as shown in verses 3, 6, 7, cp. Ps. 144:12-15, the other NeHaloth Psalm, already referred to above. (Extract from C.B. App. 65. xvi. The word. . . has been taken from HALAL, to bore; but even then, human imagination does not seem able to rise higher than the boring of holes to make a flute.

The LXX has "concerning her that inherits." Aquila in his revision (A.D. 160) has "Division of inheritances." Symmachus (A.D. 193-211) has "Allotments"; while the Latin versions have similar renderings. This shows that they must have had before them the consonants N, H, L, TH, with the vowel-points NeHaLoTH which gives the intelligible meaning, inheritances, or the great inheritance).

The great inheritance of the Son of God will be realised when "He hath put all enemies under His feet." "He hath been appointed heir of all things." "Israel is His inheritance." (Isaiah 19:25).

J.G.H.S. Last updated 25.5.2006