4. Jehovah is in the palace of his holiness:Jehovah has his throne in heaven; his eyes behold,1 and his eyelids consider the children of men. 5. Jehovah approves the righteous man; but his soul hateth the ungodly, and him who loveth iniquity.
4. Jehovah is in the palace of his holiness. In what follows, the Psalmist glories in the assurance of the favor of God, of which I have spoken. Being destitute of human aid, he betakes himself to the providence of God. It is a signal proof of faith, as I have observed elsewhere, to take and to borrow, so to speak,2 light from heaven to guide us to the hope of salvation, when we are surrounded in this world with darkness on every side. All men acknowledge that the world is governed by the providence of God; but when there comes some sad confusion of things, which disturbs their ease, and involves them in difficulty, there are few who retain in their minds the firm persuasion of this truth. But from the example of David, we ought to make such account of the providence of God as to hope for a remedy from his judgment, even when matters are in the most desperate condition. There is in the words an implied contrast between heaven and earth; for if David's attention had been fixed on the state of things in this world, as they appeared to the eye of sense and reason, he would have seen no prospect of deliverance from his present perilous circumstances. But this was not David's exercise; on the contrary, when in the world all justice lies trodden under foot, and faithfulness has perished, he reflects that God sits in heaven perfect and unchanged, from whom it became him to look for the restoration of order from this state of miserable confusion. He does not simply say that God dwells in heaven; but that he reigns there, as it were, in a royal palace, and has his throne of judgment there. Nor do we indeed render to him the honor which is his due, unless we are fully persuaded that his judgment-seat is a sacred sanctuary for all who are in affliction and unrighteously oppressed. When, therefore, deceit, craft, treachery, cruelty, violence, and extortion, reign in the world; in short, when all things are thrown into disorder and darkness by injustice and wickedness, let faith serve as a lamp to enable us to behold God's heavenly throne, and let that sight suffice to make us wait in patience for the restoration of things to a better state. The temple of his holiness, or his holy temple, which is commonly taken for Sion, doubtless here signifies heaven; and that it does so is clearly shown by the repetition in the next clause, Jehovah has his throne in Heaven; for it is certain David expresses the same thing twice.
His eyes behold. Here he infers, from the preceding sentence, that nothing is hidden from God, and that, therefore, men will be obliged to render up to him an account of all that they have done. If God reigns in heaven, and if his throne is erected there, it follows that he must necessarily attend to the affairs of men, in order one day to sit in judgment upon them. Epicurus, and such like him as would persuade themselves that God is idle, and indulges in repose in heaven, may be said rather to spread for him a couch on which to sleep than to erect for him a throne of judgment. But it is the glory of our faith that God, the Creator of the world, does not disregard or abandon the order which he himself at first established. And when he suspends his judgments for a time, it becomes us to lean upon this one truth that he beholds from heaven; just as we now see David contenting himself with this consolatory consideration alone, that God rules over mankind, and observes whatever is transacted in the world, although his knowledge, and the exercise of his jurisdiction, are not at first sight apparent. This truth is still more clearly explained in what is immediately added in the fifth verse, that God distinguishes between the righteous and the unrighteous, and in such a way as shows that he is not an idle spectator; for he is said to approve the righteous, and to hate the wicked. The Hebrew word Nxb, bachan, which we have rendered to approve, often signifies to examine or try. But in this passage I explain it as simply meaning, that God so inquires into the cause of every man as to distinguish the righteous from the wicked. It is farther declared, that God hates those who are set upon the infliction of injuries, and upon doing mischief. As he has ordained mutual intercourse between men, so he would have us to maintain it inviolable. In order, therefore, to preserve this his own sacred and appointed order, he must be the enemy of the wicked, who wrong and are troublesome to others. There is also here contrasted God's hatred of the wicked, and wicked men's love of iniquity, to teach us that those who please and flatter themselves in their mischievous practices gain nothing by such flatteries, and only deceive themselves.