The Great Trials of Life
Psalm 4:1-8
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you have enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.


1. A recognition of God's righteousness. He might have thought upon God now as the "author" of his righteousness, and felt that all that was righteous in his own heart and life came from God; or as the vindicator of his righteousness who alone was able to defend his righteous cause; or as the administrator of righteousness, conducting His government upon righteous principles and bringing even upon him only the sufferings he justly deserved. There is something deep in the soul of man which leads him to appeal to the righteous God when he feels himself to be the victim of fraud or violence. Even Christ Himself did so.

2. A remembrance of God's goodness. "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." The reference is to some deliverance which he had experienced. He remembered, perhaps, the goodness of God to him when, ill the field guarding his father's flocks, he was delivered out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear; or His goodness to him in delivering him from the giant of Philistia. The memory of God's past mercies to him gave courage to his heart and an argument in his prayer now. Because God has helped us we expect Him to help us again, and thus we plead. Not so with man. The more our fellow being has helped us the less reason we have to expect His aid. Man's capacity for help is limited. The capability of God is unbounded.

3. An invocation of God's favour. "...Have mercy upon me and hear my prayer." Mercy is what we want. Mercy to forgive, to renovate, to strengthen the soul, to labour and to wait.

II. REBUKING. David having addressed the righteous God in prayer, hurls his rebuke at his enemies. His rebuke is marked —

1. By boldness. "...O ye sons of men" — ye great men of the land — "...O how long will ye turn my glory into shame, how long will ye love vanity and seek after leasing. In this appeal the speaker's sense of honour, justice, truth seems to have run into a passion that fired and flooded his whole being.

2. By alarm. "...Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto Him," which means, "Know this, the Lord will take care of me whom He has elected King to serve Himself, and He will hear when I call upon Him." Your opposition is futile. Beware, you are rebelling not merely against me, but against Omnipotence itself. It is a terrible thing to oppress or injure God's elected ones.

3. By authority. "...Stand in awe, and sin not, commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah." — Mind this. This command includes three things.

(1) Cease from your rage. Let your insurrectionary passion be hushed. The soul under wrong passions is like a rudderless bark driven by the tempest; shipwreck is all but inevitable.

(2) Retire to thoughtfulness. "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." It is in man's own soul that God meets with him, and communes with him as He did of old before the mercy seat.

(3) Practise religion. "...Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." What is righteous sacrifice? The consecration of our energies, our self, our all, to the service of justice, truth, and God. "...The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart Thou wilt not despise."

III. TEACHING. "There be many that say, who will show us any good? Lord lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us."

1. The universal craving of humanity There are many that say unto us," etc. Men are everywhere craving for happiness. From shops and sanctuaries, from the peasant's cot and the prince's castle, from the bush of savages and the bench of senators, from all lands and lips. the cry is heard,. "Who will show us any good?" We are children walking m the dark, who will show us the way; we are dying with thirst, who will moisten our fevered lips; we are starving with hunger, who will give us any bread? Man, the world over, feels that he has not what he wants.

2. The only satisfaction of humanity. What is it? Fame, wealth, sensual pleasure, superstitious observances? No, these have been tried a thousand times, and failed. Here it is: "Lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance," which means the conscious presence and favour of God.

IV. EXULTING. "...Thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." Some render this from the time in which their corn and wine increased, supposing David to refer to the hour when abundant supplies began to come into him, an exile at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 17:28). This may be the correct version. The language in either version expresses the feelings of a soul happy in God.

1. God made him inwardly happy, even in his poverty. He had lost for a time his palace and his kingdom, and was dependent upon the supplies of friends. Yet he was happy, and who made him happy? "...Thou hast put gladness in my heart." God alone can make us happy anywhere and anywhen. "...Although the fig tree shall not blossom," etc. (Habakkuk 3:17). What does Paul say? "...I glory in tribulation." Martyrs have sung in dungeons, and triumphed in flames.

2. God made him consciously secure. His enemies counted their millions. His death they desired. Yet what does he say? — "...I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep." God was his refuge and strength, etc. "...If God be for us, who can be against us?" Learn from this poem where happiness alone can be found. It is in God. An ancient Italian author, in one of his romantic legends, tells us of a tree, many branched, and covered apparently with delectable bunches of fruit; but whoso shook that tree in order to possess the fruit, found, too late, that not fruit, but stones of crushing weight came down upon his head. An emblem this of the tree of unholy pleasure. It is many-branched, it is attractive in aspect, its boughs bend with rich clusters of what seems to be delicious fruit, the millions of the world gather round it, and, with eager hands, shake it in order if possible to taste the luscious fruit. But what is the result of their efforts? Stones come tumbling down that paralyse the soul. "What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed; for the end of those things is death."


Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David.} Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

WEB: Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness. Give me relief from my distress. Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

Spiritual Enlargement
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