Psalm 11:4
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Temple.—Here, plainly from the parallelism, not any earthly building, but the heavenly palace of the Divine King. One thought of God’s supreme righteousness, high above earth’s anarchy and sin, is enough to reassure the psalmist and make him strong. “God’s in His heaven; all’s right with the world.”—Browning, Pippa Passes.

Psalm 11:4. The Lord is in his holy temple — The psalmist, having, in the first verse, declared that his trust was in Jehovah, and having mentioned the advice of his friends, is supposed to be now proceeding to show the fitness and propriety of his trust, notwithstanding the seeming desperate situation of affairs. His words, considered as being spoken in reply to his friends, may be interpreted as follows: My answer to you is, that the world is not governed by chance, nor can men carry things just as they please; but the Lord, into whose holy palace no unjust counsels can possibly enter, who observes every thing from his temple in the heavens, and whose throne is infinitely above that of the greatest king on earth: He, I say, is the supreme and most righteous ruler of all affairs; and no mischief can be so secretly contrived, no wicked design so artfully dissembled, but it lies open before his eyes, and he sees through it. Nor need he take any pains to discover it, for at the first glance, as we speak, he perfectly discerns how all men are inclined, and looks to the very bottom of their hearts.11:1-7 David's struggle with, and triumph over a strong temptation to distrust God, and betake himself to indirect means for his own safety, in a time of danger. - Those that truly fear God and serve him, are welcome to put their trust in him. The psalmist, before he gives an account of his temptation to distrust God, records his resolution to trust in Him, as that by which he was resolved to live and die. The believer, though not terrified by his enemies, may be tempted, by the fears of his friends, to desert his post, or neglect his work. They perceive his danger, but not his security; they give him counsel that savours of worldly policy, rather than of heavenly wisdom. The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. We are concerned to hold these fast against all temptations to unbelief; for believers would be undone, if they had not God to go to, God to trust in, and future bliss to hope for. The prosperity of wicked people in their wicked, evil ways, and the straits and distresses which the best men are sometimes brought into, tried David's faith. We need not say, Who shall go up to heaven, to fetch us thence a God to trust in? The word is nigh us, and God in the word; his Spirit is in his saints, those living temples, and the Lord is that Spirit. This God governs the world. We may know what men seem to be, but God knows what they are, as the refiner knows the value of gold when he has tried it. God is said to try with his eyes, because he cannot err, or be imposed upon. If he afflicts good people, it is for their trial, therefore for their good. However persecutors and oppressors may prosper awhile, they will for ever perish. God is a holy God, and therefore hates them. He is a righteous Judge, and will therefore punish them. In what a horrible tempest are the wicked hurried away at death! Every man has the portion of his cup assigned him. Impenitent sinner, mark your doom! The last call to repentance is about to be addressed to you, judgement is at hand; through the gloomy shade of death you pass into the region of eternal wrath. Hasten then, O sinner, to the cross of Christ. How stands the case between God and our souls? Is Christ our hope, our consolation, our security? Then, not otherwise, will the soul be carried through all its difficulties and conflicts.The Lord is in his holy temple - Hebrew, "Jehovah is in the temple of his holiness." That is, he is in heaven, regarded as his temple or dwelling-place. This is the answer of the psalmist to the suggestions of his advisers that he should flee from danger. The answer is, in substance, that he had nothing to fear; that he had a protector in heaven; and that he might appeal to Him for defense. The idea is, that God, the protector of the righteous, is always in the heavens; that his throne is always accessible; and that to it the persecuted may come, and may always be safe.

The Lord's throne is in heaven - God is a king, ruling the universe. As such, the seat of his power or dominion is represented as in heaven, where he administers his government. That throne is fixed, and the affairs of his universe will be administered with justice. The righteous, therefore, may hope in his protection, and need not flee when the wicked assail them. The idea here is that of unwavering confidence in God as sitting upon the throne of the universe, and administering its affairs with justice and truth. Compare Isaiah 66:1, "heaven is my throne." See the notes on that verse.

His eyes behold - He sees everything in all parts of his vast empire, and therefore he knows all the purposes of the wicked, and all the wants of the righteous. The thought here, as one imparting a sense of safety, is, that God sees us. He is not ignorant of what our enemies are doing, and he is not ignorant of what we need. If he were, the case would be different. We might their despair of safety, and feel that our enemies could overcome and destroy us. It is much, in the trials of life, to have this assurance - this constant feeling - that God sees us. He knows our condition, our wants, our dangers; he knows all that our enemies are doing - all their machinations against us. Knowing all this, we may be assured that he will interpose when it is best that he should interpose, and that he will suffer nothing to come upon us which it is not best that he should permit. When evil befalls us, therefore, it does not come because God does not know it, or because he could not prevent it, but because, seeing it all, he judges that it is best that it should thus occur. Compare Genesis 16:13.

His eyelids try - That is, they prove, penetrate into, as if by seeing through them. The "eyelids" here are synonymous with the eyes. The form of the language is varied in accordance with a custom common in Hebrew, and there is attributed here to the eyelids what properly belongs to the eyes - the power of seeing.

The children of men - All men, good and bad. He knows them all - all their purposes, their designs, their wishes, their dangers. He knows, therefore, what our enemies are doing; he knows what are our perils; and we may safely leave our cause with him. We should not, therefore, listen to the counsel which advises us to flee Psalm 11:1, but should rather put our trust in him who dwells in the heavens.

4. temple … heaven—The connection seems to denote God's heavenly residence; the term used is taken from the place of His visible earthly abode (Ps 2:6; 3:4; 5:7). Thence He inspects men with close scrutiny.4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

5 The Lord trieth the righteous but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

7 For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

David here declares the great source of his unflinching courage. He borrows his light from heaven - from the great central orb of deity. The God of the believer is never far from him; he is not merely the God of the mountain fastnesses, but of the dangerous valleys and battle plains.

"Jehovah is in his holy temple." The heavens are above our heads in all regions of the earth, and so is the Lord ever near to us in every state and condition. This is a very strong reason why we should not adopt the vile suggestions of distrust. There is one who pleads his precious blood in our behalf in the temple above, and there is one upon the throne who is never deaf to the intercession of his Son. Why, then, should we fear? What plots can men devise which Jesus will not discover? Satan has doubtless desired to have us, that he may sift us as wheat, but Jesus is in the temple praying for us, and how can our faith fail? What attempts can the wicked make which Jehovah shall not behold? And since he is in his holy temple, delighting in the sacrifice of his Son, will he not defeat every device, and send us a sure deliverance?

"Jehovah's throne is in the heavens;" he reigns supreme. Nothing can be done in heaven, or earth, or hell, which he doth not ordain and over-rule. He is the world's great Emperor. Wherefore, then, should we flee? If we trust this King of kings, is not this enough? Cannot he deliver us without our cowardly retreat? Yes, blessed be the Lord our God, we can salute him as Jehovah-nissi; in his name we set up our banners, and, instead of flight, we once more raise the shout of war.

"His eyes behold." The eternal Watcher never slumbers; his eyes never know a sleep. "His eyelids try the children of men:" he narrowly inspects their actions, words and thoughts. As men, when intently and narrowly inspecting some very minute object, almost close their eyelids to exclude every other object, so will the Lord look all men through and through. God sees each man as much and as perfectly as if there were no other creature in the universe. He sees us always; he never removes his eye from us; he sees us entirely, reading the recesses of the soul as readily as the glancing of the eye. Is not this a sufficient ground of confidence, and an abundant answer to the solicitations of despondency? My danger is not hid from him; he knows my extremity, and I may rest assured that he will not suffer me to perish while I rely alone on him. Wherefore, then, should I take the wings of the timid bird, and flee from the dangers which beset me.

"The Lord trieth the righteous:" he doth not hate them, but only tries them. They are precious to him, and therefore he refines them with afflictions. None of the Lord's children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings.

"'Tis my happiness below

Not to live without the cross'

But the Saviour's power to know,

Sanctifying every loss.

Trials make the promise sweet;

continued...

The Lord, to whom I appeal from men’s unjust tribunals,

is in his holy temple; either,

1. In his tabernacle, which is sometimes called his temple, as 1 Samuel 1:9 3:3 Psalm 18:6 48:9 68:29, where he resides to hear the prayers and appeals of all his people. Or,

2. In heaven, as it is explained in the next clause; which is also called God’s temple, Micah 1:2 Revelation 7:15, and which seems to be most emphatical here; for God’s being in heaven is oft mentioned as an evidence of his glorious majesty, of his sovereign power and dominion over all men and things, and of his accurate inspection into all men and their actions here below, which from that high tower he can easily behold, as it here follows.

The Lord’s throne; where he sits to examine all causes, and to judge all men, and to give forth righteous sentences according to every man’s works; which is my great comfort and joy.

His eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of men, i.e. he doth exactly and thoroughly discern all men, and all that is in men, their most inward and secret actions, Psalm 7:9. And therefore he sees and will reward my innocency, notwithstanding all the reproaches and calumnies of mine enemies; and withal he sees all their secret, and subtle, and malicious designs against me through all their cunning pretences, and withal discover and defeat them. The Lord is in his holy temple,.... Not in the temple at Jerusalem, which as yet was not built; nor in the temple of Christ's human nature; but rather in the church, where he dwells, which is an holy temple to the Lord; and which is an argument for trust in him, and a reason against the fears of men in the worst of times; see Psalm 46:1. Though it may be best to understand it of heaven, the habitation of God's holiness, and which is the true sanctuary; and which the holy places made with hands were only a figure of; since it follows,

the Lord's throne is in heaven; yea, the heaven is his throne; here he sits on a throne of grace, and here he has prepared his throne for judgment; and both this and the preceding clause are expressive of his glory and majesty; and are said to command awe and reverence of the Divine Being, and to inject terror into the wicked; and to show that God is above the enemies of his people, and to encourage the saints' trust and confidence in him; and are mentioned as a reason why David put his trust in him; and are, with what follows in Psalm 11:5, opposed to the advice and reasonings of some of his friends in the preceding ones;

his eyes behold; all men, and all their actions; he sees what the wicked are doing in the dark, what preparations for mischief they are making, and beholds them when they shoot privily at the upright in heart; he can turn the arrow another way, and cause it to miss the mark: his eyes run to and fro throughout the earth, in favour of those whose hearts are perfect and sincere. God's omniscience, which is denied by wicked men, who are therefore hardened in sin, and promise themselves impunity, is used by the saints as an argument to encourage their faith and trust in God, with respect to their preservation and deliverance. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read, "his eyes look unto the poor"; but this is an addition to the text not suitable to the context;

his eyelids try the children of men; he tries their reins, he searches into their very hearts, and into the inmost recesses of them, and takes cognizance of their thoughts, intentions, and designs; and confounds and disappoints them, so that they cannot perform their enterprises.

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes {d} behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

(d) Though all things in earth are out of order, yet God will execute judgment from heaven.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. More exactly:

Jehovah in his holy temple, Jehovah, whose throne is in heaven,

His eyes behold &c.

The last clause is the predicate on which the emphasis falls. The temple is here heaven, as in Psalm 18:6; Psalm 29:9; Micah 1:2; Habakkuk 2:20. There Jehovah sits enthroned in Majesty as King and Judge (Psalm 9:4; Psalm 9:7), surveying the course of human affairs. Cp. Psalm 10:14; Psalm 14:2; Psalm 102:19 ff. The epithet ‘holy’ emphasises the contrast with earth. The confusions and mistakes and prejudices of earth cannot enter there.

behold] The Heb. word suggests the idea of a discerning, penetrating gaze. The P.B.V., His eyes consider the poor, is derived through the Vulg. from the LXX[8].

[8] ‘The consonants of the word for poor (עני) resemble those of the word for his eyes (עיניו), and this word appears to have been doubly read and translated by the LXX.

his eyelids try] The eyelids are contracted when we wish to examine an object closely. ‘Try’ is a metaphor from refining. He distinguishes at a glance between dross and gold. Cp. Psalm 7:9.

4–6. David’s answer, justifying his rejection of his friends’ advice. They look to earth alone; he looks up to heaven. They judge by the appearance of the moment; his faith beholds the righteous Governor of the world exercising His sovereignty. On earth justice may be suspended or subverted; but the Eternal Judge has not quitted His throne in heaven.Verse 4. - The Lord is in his holy temple. David's reply to his timid advisers is an expression of absolute faith and trust in God. Saul may reign upon earth; but Jehovah is in his holy temple (or rather, "palace," הֵיכַל) on high - his throne is in heaven, where he sits and reigns. What need, then, to fear an earthly king? Especially when God is not inattentive to human affairs, but his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men (comp. Psalm 7:9; Psalm 17:3; Psalm 139:1). His "eyelids" are said to try men, because, when we closely scrutinize a thing, we drop our eyelids and half close our eyes. The desire for Jahve's interposition now rises again with fresh earnestness. It is a mistake to regard דּרשׁ and מצא as correlative notions. In the phrase to seek and not find, when used of that which has totally disappeared, we never have דּרשׁ, but always בּקּשׁ, Psalm 37:36; Isaiah 41:12; Jeremiah 50:20, and frequently. The verb דּרשׁ signifies here exactly the same as in Psalm 10:4, Psalm 10:13, and Psalm 9:13 : "and the wicked (nom. absol. as in Psalm 10:4) - mayst Thou punish his wickedness, mayst Thou find nothing more of it." It is not without a meaning that, instead of the form of expression usual elsewhere (Psalm 37:36; Job 20:8), the address to Jahve is retained: that which is no longer visible to the eye of God, not merely of man, has absolutely vanished out of existence. This absolute conquest of evil is to be as surely looked for, as that Jahve's universal kingship, which has been an element of the creed of God's people ever since the call and redemption of Israel (Exodus 15:18), cannot remain without being perfectly and visibly realised. His absolute and eternal kingship must at length be realised, even in all the universality and endless duration foretold in Zechariah 14:9; Daniel 7:14, Revelation 11:15. Losing himself in the contemplation of this kingship, and beholding the kingdom of God, the kingdom of good, as realised, the psalmist's vision stretches beyond the foes of the church at home to its foes in general; and, inasmuch as the heathen in Israel and the heathen world outside of Israel are blended together into one to his mind, he comprehends them all in the collective name of גּוים, and sees the land of Jahve (Leviticus 25:23), the holy land, purified of all oppressors hostile to the church and its God. It is the same that is foretold by Isaiah (Isaiah 52:1), Nahum (Nahum 2:1), and in other passages, which, by the anticipation of faith, here stands before the mind of the suppliant as an accomplished fact - viz. the consummation of the judgment, which has been celebrated in the hymnic half (Psalm 9) of this double Psalm as a judgment already executed in part.
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