Psalm 4:2-3

2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye try to turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seeking after lying? Selah 3. But know that Jehovah hath chosen for himself one who is merciful:Jehovah will hear when I call upon him.


2. O ye sons of men. The happy result of the prayer of David was, that resuming courage, he was able not only to repel the fury of his enemies, but also to challenge them on his part, and fearlessly to despise all their machinations. That our confidence, therefore, may remain unshaken, we ought not, when assailed by the wicked, to enter into conflict without being furnished like David with the same armor. The sum is, that since God was determined to defend David by his own power, it was in vain for all the men in the world to endeavor to destroy him; however great the power which they otherwise might have of doing him injury. By calling those whom he addresses the sons, not of Adam, or of some common persons but of men, he seems by the way to reprove their pride.1 I do not agree with certain Jewish expositors who think that nobles or men of rank are meant. It is rather an ironical concession of what they claimed to themselves, by which he ridicules their presumption, in esteeming themselves to be noble and wise, whereas it was only blind rage which impelled them to wicked enterprises. In the words how long, he condemns their perverse obstinacy; for what he means, is not that they were stirred up against him merely by some sudden impulses, but that the stubborn purpose of injuring him was deeply fixed in their hearts. Had not their maliciousness deprived them of their understanding, the many instances in which God had proved himself to be David's defender would have compelled them to desist from their attempts against him. But as they were fully determined to disgrace him whom God had exalted to the royal throne he asks them, How long they will persevere in their endeavors to turn his glory into shame. And it is to be observed that although loaded with every kind of reproach, both among the high and the low he yet courageously keeps fast hold of the glory or the honor of royalty which God had graciously promised him, or had conferred upon him, and is fully persuaded that God will at length vindicate his right to it, however much his enemies might wickedly endeavor to blot and obscure it by treating his pretensions with derision and scorn.

How long will ye love vanity? In these words, he partly reproaches his enemies for the wicked and perverse passions with which he saw them to be impelled, although they falsely pretended to be actuated by a godly zeal; and he partly derides their folly in flattering themselves with the hope of success while fighting against God. And it is a most pointed rebuke. Even when the ungodly rush headlong into all manner of wickedness with the grossest2 malice, they soothe themselves with deceitful flatteries in order not to be disturbed with the feelings of remorse. David, therefore, cries out, that wilfully to shut their eyes and varnish their unrighteousness with deceitful colors, would avail them nothing. The ungodly may indeed flatter and delude themselves, but when they are brought in good earnest to the trial, it will be always manifest that the reason why they are deceived is, because from the beginning they were determined to deal deceitfully. Now, from this place, we ought to take a shield of invincible steadfastness as often as we see ourselves overmatched in prudence and subtlety by the wicked. For with whatever engines they assault us, yet if we have the testimony of a good conscience, God will remain on our side, and against him they shall not prevail. They may greatly excel in ingenuity, and possess much power of hurting us, and have their plans and subsidiary aid in the greatest readiness, and be very shrewd in discernment, yet whatever they may invent, it will be but lying and vanity.

3. Know that Jehovah hath set apart, etc. This is a confirmation of the preceding verse, for it shows that the cause of David's boldness consisted in this, that he depended upon God, the founder of his kingdom. And surely we may then safely triumph over our enemies when we are assured of having the call of God to the office which we hold, or the work in which we are engaged. Accordingly, David does not here boast of his own strength, or riches, or armies by which he obtained the kingdom. But as he was chosen by God, he intimates that the many attempts of his enemies against him would be without success, because they would find from experience, that God, whose power they could not successfully resist, was against them. In the first place, he says that he was set apart by God, by which he means that he was advanced to the throne, not by the will of man, or by his own ambition, but by the appointment of God. The Hebrew word hlp, Phalah, signifies to separate, and it here refers to separation to honor and dignity; as if he had said you admit no one as king but he who is chosen by your own suffrages, or who pleases you; but it is the peculiar prerogative of God to make choice of whom he will. By the word merciful or bountiful, he doubtless vindicates his right to be king, from the fact that this was a quality which belonged to himself; it is as if he had produced the mark or badge of his calling. For it was truly said in the old proverb, Mercy is the virtue most suitable for kings. Now, God usually furnishes those whom he reckons worthy of having this honor conferred upon them, with the endowments requisite for the exercise of their office, that they may not be as dead idols. Some understand the word dyox, chasid, in a passive sense, not as denoting a beneficent person, but one who is placed on the throne by the favor of God. As, however, I meet with no examples of this signification of the word in Scripture, I think it safer to follow the common interpretation, which is this:God has chosen a king, who answers to the character which should be possessed by all who are called to fill such an exalted station, in as much as he is merciful and beneficent. Hence, he infers that he would be heard by God as often as he called upon him; for God principally proves his faithfulness in this, that he does not forsake the work of his own hands, but continually defends those whom he has once received into his favor. Hence, we are taught fearlessly to proceed in our path; because whatever we may have undertaken according to his will, shall never be ineffectual. Let this truth then, obtain a fixed place in our minds, that God will never withhold his assistance from those who go on sincerely in their course. Without this comfort, the faithful must inevitably sink into despondency every moment.

1 "Le mot Hebrieu ne signifie pas simplement Homme, mais homme viril at robuste; en quoy il semble taxer, en passant, leur arrogance." -- Fr. The Hebrew word signifies not simply man, but a strong and robust man; and by this word he seems, in passing, to rebuke their arrogance.

2 "D'une malice si evidente qu'on la pourroit toucher au doigt." -- Fr. With a malice so evident that one could touch it with the finger.