Vol. 27 New Series February, 1966 No. 1
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
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
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:
A.-I. David's plea and prayer to God.
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.
B.-2. Sons of men rebuked for idolatry, vanity and
A.-3, 4. David's assurance from own integrity. His
A.-5. David's sacrifice of righteousness. Faith in God
B.-6. Sons of men seeking, unsuccessfully, prosperity
A.-7, 8. David's experience of peace and security in God
David expresses, as before these 'many,' his standing before
"Hear me when I call, 0 God of my righteousness".
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.
"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;
J.B.R. translates it:
Have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer."
"In a strait place thou hast made room for me,
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.
Show me favour and hear my prayer."
"O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into
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.
How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?
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.
"But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly
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.
The Lord will hear when I call unto Him.
Stand in awe, and sin not:
Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be
SELAH—How near to the brink David had come, he knew only too well. That deserves thinking over again. And now to go on.
"Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
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).
And put your trust in the Lord."
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."
"There be many that say, who will shew us any good?
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?
Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us."
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;
"Thou has put gladness in my heart,
More than in the time that their corn
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.
and their wine
"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep.
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."
For Thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety."
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
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."
Last updated 25.5.2006