Psalm 4:7


I. THE QUESTION OF QUESTIONS. The feeling indicated is common. Amid disappointments and cares, evermore the cry is heard, "Who will show us any good?"

II. THE PRAYER OF PRAYERS. Somewhere there must be help. Gain, pleasure, worldly honours, and such-like, give no satisfaction. But when we turn to God we find all we need. He is gracious and merciful. Light and joy and peace beam from his countenance. Here we have the gospel preached beforehand.

III. THE JOY OF JOYS. The "joy of harvest" is proverbial. Here we have more, infinitely more. Not only rest from fear, and recompense for labour, and provision for the future; but this in the highest sense, spiritually and eternally - the Giver as well as the gift. - W.F.









Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
1. The joy in harvest is based on the successful result of labour. Labour is God's law, and obedience to it secures a result corresponding to the means used, and that result is a real blessing in the ratio in which God is recognised and honoured, by obeying Him in the law which He has enjoined. Spiritual blessings are only attained through spiritual means. How few men recognise, in God's ministration of natural plenty, a silent sermon on the passage, "He giveth all things richly to enjoy." A Christian looks upon a plentiful harvest, not simply as a pledge of cheaper bread, but as a mark of God's approval of the industry which wrought for this end. All industrious nations are thriving, though all are not God-fearing nations.

2. Joy in harvest commemorates the termination of solicitude, in reference to a favourable season for ripening and gathering in the crops. Scripture alludes to many of the trials and disappointments of the husbandman. There is a proverbial impatience and murmuring among tillers of the soil. A like impatience is not rare among some Christians. The harvest, as an annual ripening and realising of profit, should suggest annual inquiry into our own scale of personal maturity in the things of God. Has the past year yielded a good spiritual return for mental toil, and thought, and prayer, and the means of grace?

3. The joy of harvest reasonably includes the prospect of an adequate supply for our own and others' necessities. There is danger, as well as misery, m a public deficiency of the necessaries of life. The law and the loaf flourish best together.

4. The joy of an abundant harvest should stimulate us to renewed and enhanced confidence in God. If He thus blesses the labour of the field, doubt not He will bless every believer in his personal calling.

(Joseph B. Owen, M. A.)

Christianity is a religion of gladness. You cannot have one Divine idea in you without being glad. You cannot have any Divine ideas so long as you are unpardoned. It is the distinction of the gospel to proclaim possible forgiveness, and when forgiveness has taken effect then joy begins; on every bough of every tree there is a singing bird. But until we are pardoned, and pardoned at the Cross, we cannot admit God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost into our hearts to abide with us and sup with us and manifest themselves to us, and therefore we cannot have this simple, pure, celestial, inexhaustible joy. Christianity gives joy unspeakable, joy unutterable. Joy has no words; joy takes up all our little words, and uses them, and then says, I want more, more, another language, and because it has no more articulation it bursts forth into songs without words, it mingles with the melody of the spheres. To that high festival we are called! But is not the religion of Christ a religion of melancholy? No. It has in it the deepest melancholy ever known, but one thing is so often forgotten by Christian evangelists: Christ died only once. They will not think of that — only once. He did die — died as never man died; He was despised and rejected of men, He gave His back to the smiters and His cheeks to them that pluck off the hair; but He died only once. He lives for evermore. Why do we not at our Eastertides remember this? — the death for a moment, the life forever! So we come up out of darkness to sing of light; we leave the desert, one little mile long, and enter upon the boundless paradise of God. Do not condemn yourselves because you have not a continual consciousness of this joy. Much of that want of consciousness may be due to physical infirmity; we are fearfully and wonderfully made; the body may be having the upper hand for a time. Then some men's self lies such a long way within themselves they have to shed off coat after coat, to slough off bad skin after bad skin a thousand in number, before they get at their real Ego, their real I, their real and divinest self. Some of us have a hard fight. Some of you think you are going to lose. Hear me: you are not. "Gad, a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last." For the moment he is down, but God is in him, and he will spring from the dust, and at the last even the poor tribe called Gad shall sing of victory, sit down with conquerors!

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

There are wants of the soul which no earthly good can satisfy. The happiness to meet these wants consists in a calm, cheerful, submissive, contented frame of mind.

I. This happiness is not only a privilege, it is A SACRED AND MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN DUTY.

1. By far the greater part of the unhappiness which people complain of, is of their own procuring, and is to be set down as resulting, not from any unavoidable necessity, either in nature or circumstances, but from a perverted free agency, from violating some of the laws of our being, from voluntary indiscretions, errors, and sins. Remove the sources of unhappiness, and little comparatively would remain to embitter the cup of life, or make us unhappy. If the unhappiness is caused by ourselves, then it is our "duty" to cease from so profitless, so bad a work.

2. It is our duty to be happy, because it is our duty to be right — right in our feelings, principles, habits, and aims; and just so far as we are so, we must, and we shall be happy. The happiness of which I speak is in the state of the mind, and independent, in great measure, of outward circumstances.

3. God wishes us to be happy. This cannot be doubted by any who believe that God is a Being of infinite wisdom and goodness. True, in our present state, there are many things within and without, which tend to perplex and try us, and, in point of fact, do often greatly interrupt and disturb our happiness. These, we have seen, are partly our own procuring. So far as they come in the course of Divine Providence, they are means designed of our Father in heaven to promote our present and future happiness. They are among the "all things that work together for good."

4. Look at the constitution of man as made in the image of God, and formed to share, in his measure, in the happiness of God. A law pervades your whole mental constitution, making it certain that the right normal exercise of your powers and affections can result only in making you happy.

5. From the abundant means God has provided to render you happy. He who made you, and made you to be happy, has provided means adapted to gratify all your desires and aspirations, so far as they are right and proper. The means God has provided for our happiness do not stop in the things of earth and time.

II. THE METHOD OR WAY TO BE HAPPY.

1. We must leave off making ourselves unhappy. Turn out all those consumers of happiness which are so apt to find a home in the bosom. Their name is legion, and by many they are indulged and nursed to the overthrow of all internal peace and comfort.

2. Cultivate kind and benevolent affections — love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness, truth. These virtues, in habitual exercise, as they are required to be, cannot fail to diffuse sunshine and pleasantness over the whole mind and life.

3. Note the Saviour's prescription for being happy, as contained in the opening of His Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are they, etc. What is the principle, the source, of the blessedness expressed in these different terms? Plainly it is internal; it springs from the affections.

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING HAPPY. It is not necessary to dwell on this. It is not, however, common for happiness to be inculcated as a duty. It is usually regarded as a matter which everyone must be left to dispose of as he chooses, without incurring any moral responsibility.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

Joy and pleasure are things so truly desired by all mankind, that religion suffers by being thought an enemy to them. Religion restrains us from nothing, but what our own reason and interest should restrain us from, In all harmless and innocent satisfactions, that neither entrench upon the honour of God, nor the rights of others, nor our own peace and quiet, we have leave to pick and choose.

I. THE NATURE OF THIS INWARD JOY AND PLEASURE. Not a natural gaiety and cheerfulness of humour, or a few light and transient fits of mirth, nor yet any strong and confident presumptions of God's love and favour, or any rapturous transports, and sensible ravishments of joy. That which I intend is, a solid and rational satisfaction of mind, in the goodness and soundness of a man's estate towards God, and flows usually from these two things — from a sincere and regular discharge of our duty, which brings its own comfort and tranquillity along With it. And from a cheerful reflection upon a man's innocency, and the integrity of his actions, when a man dares look back upon what he has done, and knows that he has the testimony and approbation of heaven on his side, bearing witness to the vote and suffrage of his own conscience.

II. WHAT INFLUENCE RELIGION HAS UPON THE JOY AND PLEASURE OF A MAN'S MIND.

1. Religion restores a man to the grace and favour of God, and assures him that his sins are pardoned, and his peace made with heaven.

2. A course of virtue and religion subdues our inordinate appetites and vicious inclinations, which are the great fountains of inquietude and trouble. Religion circulates through all our powers, disposes every faculty to act in its due place and order, and determines every affection to its peculiar object.

3. A pious and religious life secures to a man the peculiar care and protection of the Divine Providence, than which there cannot be a stronger support and comfort to the mind of a wise and good man.

4. Religion refreshes the mind of a good man with a joyful assurance of the glory and blessedness of the Other world.

III. THE EXCELLENCY OF THE PLEASURES OF RELIGION, ABOVE ALL THE DELIGHTS AND PLEASURES OF THIS WORLD. "More than when the corn and the wine increases."

1. The delights of this world are gross and corporeal, and affect only the external senses, and are the pleasures of the brute, rather than of the man.

2. The pleasures of religion are more solid and satisfying than anything this world can afford. They fill our appetites, and fix our desires, and settle the soul upon the right basis and temper.

3. Religions pleasures are more large and comprehensive, they take in a vaster compass, the delights both of this and of the other world.

4. The pleasures of religion have infinitely the advantage of all others in point of duration and continuance. They abide with us when other comforts fly, or are rifled away from us The sum is this — "the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever."

(William Cave, D. D.)

The chief distinction between a child of God and a man of the world lies in the prevailing tendency of their desires.

1. The Psalmist's description of opposite characters. See the description of worldly men, in ver. 6: It is obvious —(1) That this question betrays a great degree of inward dissatisfaction and perplexity. They say "any good," anything to fill up the craving vacuity of our minds. At the time of the question they cannot find anything in their lot that deserves the name of good.(2) The only good they inquire for is some present sensible enjoyment, which may be pointed out to the eye of sense, They look not "at the things which are unseen and eternal."(3) They make no discrimination of the objects which they seek after.(4) They do not turn their thoughts at all to God. They seek counsel from others, but none from Him. Turn to consider the temper of a child of God. He too seeks "good"; but(i) It is not "any" good that will satisfy him. He cannot feed upon husks. He seeks the "chief good."(ii) He knows where that good is to be found. The favour of God, and the sense of His loving kindness, are the only sources of true happiness. The worldly mind is in a state of perpetual fluctuation.(iii) The child of God goes directly to God Himself, and begs the blessing from Him.(iv) The Psalmist, in the name of the godly, uses this prayer in direct opposition to the carnal language, of worldly. men. Intimating to us, that a child of God can relish no sweetness m any inferior good, till he be assured of the Divine favour.

2. The propositions which arise from this comparison.(1) Worldly men have little cause to rejoice in the temporal advantages which they possess. These outward things may consist with the present misery of the person who possesses them. Indeed, these things are frequently the means of making men miserable, and of fixing them in that deplorable state. These things may end in misery, and leave the owner in everlasting woe.(2) Consider those solid grounds of joy which belong to the people of God. He is possessed of the joy which results from comparing his present and happy condition with the misery in which he was once involved. Source of joy to a child of God, also consists in the actual honours and privileges conferred upon him. He is advanced to the dearest and most intimate relation to God, adopted into His family, and invested with all the rights of a son. The joy of a saint also proceeds from the contemplation of those future blessings which are yet only the objects of hope. These sources of joy are of such a nature as that no outward distress or calamity can take them away.Improvement of this subject.

1. Inquire which of the characters described by the Psalmist belongs to us.

2. I exhort those of you who are yet carnally minded, to think seriously of your condition.

3. Let those who have been taught to value the light of God's countenance above all things, learn to be humble and thankful.

(R. Walker.)

"Living in Rome, a famous antiquarian and artist (Winkelman) tells how he gave himself half an hour every day to meditate on his Italian happiness. Thousands have lived in Rome with the same pure sky smiling over them, and the same articulate antiquity on every side accosting them, and never been aware of their felicity." And is it not thus with the average Christian life? For the want of reflection and a calm survey of our standing and inheritance in Jesus Christ, our icy and gladness are intermittent instead of perennial and abiding.

(James Hamilton, D. D.)

Recovering from an illness, Mr. Wilberforce remarked, "I can scarcely understand why my life is spared so long, except it be to show them a man can be as happy without a fortune as with one."

Now, as they were going along and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father's sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favoured countenance, and as he sat by himself, he sang —

"He that is down needs fear no fall;

He that is low no pride;

He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

I am content with what I have,

Little be it or much;

And, Lord, contentment still I crave,

Because Thou savest such.

Fulness to such a burden is,

That go on pilgrimage:

Here little, and hereafter bliss,

Is best from age to age."Then said their guide, "Do you hear him?" "I will dare to say that this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of that herb called heart's ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet."

( John Bunyan.)

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