Psalm 4:3
But know that the LORD has set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call to him.
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(3) But know.—It is the privilege of true and heroic natures to rise to a consciousness of their strength and dignity in the hour of peril, and when the victims of unjust persecution. Besides his innate greatness, David has a grandeur and dignity, derived from his deep sense of the covenant between God and His anointed, and his own imperfect but sincere endeavour to act worthily the part of God’s vice-regent on earth. His selection by Jehovah is an unanswerable reply to his calumniators, and the surest proof of his own uprightness.

Hath set apart.—That is, has distinguished or honoured. So rightly the LXX. and Vulg. The Hebrew word occurs in Exodus 8:22; Exodus 9:4; Exodus 11:7, of severance between Israel and Egypt. (Comp. Psalm 17:7.)

Godly.—Heb. chasîd, properly, graced or gracious, according as it is used of Israel or of the God of Israel. The covenant relationship is more prominent in the word than a moral excellence, though this is presupposed. See Psalm 1:5, where the word appears to be defined. There is a difficulty in the construction: (to him) may go either with the verb or the object. By comparison with Psalm 17:7, we take it with the latter. LXX., “his holy one.”

Psalm 4:3. Know that the Lord — Hebrew, Jehovah, the supreme, the everlasting God, whose favour is an infinite blessing, and whose wrath is a boundless evil; hath set apart — Hath chosen; to himself — And taken under his peculiar care and protection; him that is godly — The man that truly fears, loves, and serves him. It is generally supposed that David spoke here primarily of himself, and of his own designation to the throne; that he is meant by the godly man, whom God had set apart for himself, or for the honour of the kingdom, and who did not usurp or assume to himself a dignity not appointed him of God; and that therefore the opposition they made to him and to his advancement, as it was very criminal, inasmuch as therein they fought against God, so it would prove vain in the end and ineffectual. God has, in like manner, set apart the Lord Jesus for himself, that merciful one, (as the word חסיד, chasid, here rendered, him that is godly, properly means,) and those that attempt to hinder his advancement will certainly be baffled, for the Father heareth him always. But, as has been intimated above, David certainly meant his words to be understood of every godly man. All the godly are God’s chosen, or elect people; his separate and sealed ones, whom he knows to be his, on whom he hath stamped his image, and who hear his superscription. Them the Lord distinguishes with uncommon favours. They have a special interest in heaven, are under God’s peculiar care; those that touch them touch the apple of his eye; and he will make their persecutors know it sooner or later; and they shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day when I make up my jewels. Know this, saith the psalmist. Let godly people know it, and let them never alienate themselves from him to whom they are thus appropriated; let wicked people know it, and take heed how they hurt those whom God protects.4:1-5 Hear me for thy mercy-sake, is our best plea. He who will not ask such blessings as pardon, and justifying righteousness, and eternal life, must perish for the want of them. Alas! that so many should make so fearful a choice. The psalmist warns against sin. Keep up holy reverence of the glory and majesty of God. You have a great deal to say to your hearts, they may be spoken with, let it not be unsaid. Examine them by serious self-reflection; let your thoughts fasten upon that which is good, and keep close to it. Consider your ways, and before you turn to sleep at night, examine your consciences with respect to what you have done in the day; particularly what you have done amiss, that you may repent of it. when you awake in the night, meditate upon God, and the things that belong to your peace. Upon a sick-bed, particularly, we should consider our ways. Be still. when you have asked conscience a question, be serious, be silent, wait for an answer. Open not the mouth to excuse sin. All confidence must be pan answer. Open not the mouth to excuse sin. All confidence only: therefore, after commanding the sacrifices of righteousness, the psalmist says, Put your trust in the Lord.But know - This is addressed to those whom, in the previous verse, he had called the "sons of men;" that is, his foes. This is designed to show them that their opposition to him must be vain, since God had determined to set him apart for his own service, and would, therefore, hear his prayer for relief and protection.

That the Lord hath set apart - That Yahweh had done this; that is, that he had designated him to accomplish a certain work, or that he regarded him as an instrument to perform it. He would, therefore, protect him whom he had thus appointed; and their efforts were really directed against Yahweh himself, and must be vain.

Him that is godly for himself - For his own purposes, or to accomplish his own designs. The reference is here undoubtedly to the psalmist himself; that is, to David. The word "godly," as applied to himself, is probably used in contrast with his enemies as being engaged in wicked designs, to wit, in rebellion, and in seeking to dispossess him of his lawful throne. The psalmist felt that his cause was a righteous cause, that he had done nothing to deserve this treatment at their hands; and that he had been originally exalted to the throne because God regarded him as a friend of himself and of his cause; and because he knew that he would promote the interests of that cause. The word here rendered "godly," חסיד châsı̂yd, is derived from חסד chesed, which means desire, ardor, zeal; and then kindness, benignity, love toward God or man. Here the word properly denotes one who has love to God, or one who is truly pious; and it is correctly rendered "godly." Compare Psalm 30:4-5; Psalm 31:23; Psalm 37:28. The idea is, that as God had appointed him for his own great purposes, the real aim of the rebels was to oppose Yahweh; and the purposes in which they were engaged could not, therefore, be successful.

The Lord will hear when I call unto him - As I am engaged in his service; as I am appointed to accomplish a certain purpose for him, I may confidently believe that he will hear me, and will deliver me out of their hands. Is not this always the true ground of encouragement to pray - that if God has a purpose to accomplish by us he will hear our prayer, and save us from danger, and deliver us out of the hand of our enemies? And should not this be the main design in our prayers - that God "would" thus spare us that we may accomplish the work which he has given us to do?

3. godly—an object as well as subject of divine favor (compare Ps 105:14, 15).3 But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.

"But know." Fools will not learn, and therefore they must again and again be told the same thing, especially when it is such a bitter truth which is to be taught them, viz: - the fact that the godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a doctrine which unrenewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, it is a glorious and well-attested truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer. Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. He who chose us for himself will surely hear our prayers. The Lord's elect shall not be condemned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord's people in the same manner; let us tell our enemies to their faces, that they fight against God and destiny; when they strive to overthrow our souls. O beloved, when you are on your knees, the fact of your being set apart as God's own peculiar treasure, should give you courage and inspire you with fervency and faith. "Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?" Since he chose to love us he cannot but chose to hear us.

But know that you fight not against me, but against the Lord.

Hath set apart; or, hath wonderfully separated me; hath rejected the other royal person and family, and hath called me by name, and chosen me out of all the tribes and families of Israel, and out of my father’s family, though I was the youngest of them, and thought by Samuel and by my father to be most remote from this honour.

Him that is godly, i.e. me, whom though you traduce and censure, as if I were an egregious hypocrite and impostor, who only pretended religion for my own ambitious ends, God hath pronounced to be a man after his own heart, 1 Samuel 13:14; and that I am such in some good measure both my own conscience and the general course of my life bear me witness: which testimony David gives to himself, not out of a vain-glorious humour, but merely because he was constrained to it by the calumnies of his enemies, for his own just and necessary vindication. Or, his favourite, as this word oft signifies; him, whom he hath been pleased to choose and advance, not for any worth or merit of mine, but out of his free grace and kindness to me; who therefore will maintain the work of his own hands and grace, although I cannot deny that I have been guilty of divers frailties and miscarriages, for which God might justly reject me, if he should deal with me according to the rigours of his justice.

For himself; either,

1. In his stead, or to be his vicegerent, as all kings are, and especially the kings of God’s own people. Or rather,

2. For his own service and glory, to fulfil all his will, as it is expressed, Acts 13:22; which may be spoken by way of opposition to Saul, who had no regard to God, nor to his will and glory, but minded only his own honour and advantage.

The Lord will hear when I call unto him; therefore I am assured that God will hear my prayers, and save me out of your hands. But know,.... Take notice of it, consider it, be assured of the truth, of it; it may be depended upon as fact,

that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: which may be understood of David himself, an holy good man; a man after God's own heart; whom the Lord chose, and in a marvellous manner separated from the rest of his brethren; took him from the sheepfold, and set him upon the throne of Israel, for the glory of his great name; and therefore the attempts of his enemies against him would be without success: and also of the Messiah, God's Holy One, whom he has chosen out from among the people to be their Saviour and Redeemer, to the glory of his grace; wherefore the work of the Lord has prospered in his hands: and likewise of all the saints, and of their election; which act is expressed by their being set apart, or separated from others, who are called the rest; and which is a marvellous act of grace: for the word may be rendered, "he hath wonderfully set apart" (n). It is an amazing instance of grace that God should make one to differ from another, and separate them from their mother's womb, and call them by his grace. The object of this act is "him that is godly", or "holy" (o): not that any are set apart or chosen by God for their godliness, or holiness; for they are chosen through sanctification of the Spirit, and not because they were or it was foreseen they would be holy. Holiness, faith, godliness, and good works, are the fruits of election, and not the causes of it: but the word rendered "godly", signifies "good" and "merciful" (p); and designs one, that God is good, and gracious, and merciful unto; who is an object of his free grace and favour; and therefore he chooses and sets him apart of his own grace and mercy, and according to his sovereign will and pleasure: and that "for himself"; for his own use and service, for his praise and honour, and to the glory of his grace; which is his grand end in predestination, election, and in all spiritual blessings. And now all attempts against such persons are in vain; all charges against them are of no avail; all methods, whether by open force of persecutors, or by the cunning of false teachers, that lie in wait to deceive, to prevail against them, prove failures: and God will avenge his elect, that cry unto him day and night; as follows;

the Lord will hear when I call unto him; and deliver out of the hands of enemies, and cut them off: wherefore it is a vain thing for men to set themselves against Christ and his people.

(n) So Ainsworth. "mirificavit", V. L. "mirabilem effecit", Gejerus (o) "sanctum", V. L. Muis, De Dieu. (p) "Eum quem benigne acceperit", Junius & Tremellius; "beneficiarium", Gejerus, Michaelis; "gratia vel favore a Deo affectum", Hammond.

But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is {f} godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.

(f) A king who walks in his vocation.

3. hath set apart] Hath distinguished. The verb combines the idea of marvellous dealing with that of choice and separation. Cp. Psalm 17:7; Psalm 139:14; Isaiah 29:14.

him that is godly] The word châsîd which is thus rendered is one of the characteristic words of the Psalter. It is derived from chesed, ‘mercy’ or ‘lovingkindness,’ and denotes either (1) one who is characterised by dutiful love to God and to his fellow men; the ‘godly,’ or ‘merciful’ man, Psalm 18:25; or (2) ‘one who is the object of Jehovah’s lovingkindness,’ as R.V. margin ‘one that He favoureth’: cp. A.V. marg., Psalm 86:2. See Appendix, Note I, for a further discussion of its meaning.

3, 4. The reason why the attempt is doomed to failure. Warning to reflect before it is too late.Verse 3. - But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself. The best order of the words would be, "Know that the Lord hath set apart for himself the man that is godly." The godly man is not contaminated by the evil doings of those who associate with him, and profess to act in his interest, if he neither authorizes nor condones their conduct. David had protested against Joab's proceedings on one occasion (2 Samuel 3:28), and never at any time pardoned them (1 Kings 2:5, 6). The Lord will hear when I call unto him Although I am disgraced (Ver. 2), resisted, in many ways brought to shame, by you, yet still I am God's servant, set apart to his service, and therefore 1 shall be heard by him. He will hearken to and grant my prayer. (Heb.: 3:6-7) That this God will protect him, His protection during the past night is now a pledge to him in the early morning. It is a violation of the rules of grammar to translate ואישׁנה: I shall go to sleep, or: I am going to sleep. The 1 pers. fut. consec. which is indicated by the ו, is fond of taking an ah of direction, which gives subjective intensity to the idea of sequence: "and thus I then fell asleep," cf. Psalm 7:5; Psalm 119:55, and frequently, Genesis 32:6, and more especially so in the later style, Ezra 9:3; Nehemiah 13:21, vid., Ges. 49, 2, Bttcher, Neue Aehrenlese, No. 412. It is a retrospective glance at the past night. Awaking in health and safety, he feels grateful to Him to whom he owes it: יהוה יסמכני. It is the result of the fact that Jahve supports him, and that God's hand is his pillow.

(Note: Referred to the other David, Psalm 3:6 has become an Easter-morning call, vid., Val. Herberger's Paradies-Blmlein aus dem Lustgarten der Psalmen (Neue Ausg. 1857) S. 25.)

Because this loving, almighty hand is beneath his head (Sol 2:6) he is inaccessible and therefore also devoid of fear. שׁית (שׁוּת) carries its object in itself: to take up one's position, as in Isaiah 22:7, synon. חנה Psalm 28:3 and שׂים 1 Kings 20:12, cf. ἐπιτιθέναι τινί. David does not put a merely possible case. All Israel, that is to say ten thousands, myriads, were gone over to Absolom. Here, at the close of the third strophe, סלה is wanting because the לא אירא (I will not fear) is not uttered in a tone of triumph, but is only a quiet, meek expression of believing confidence. If the instruments struck up boldly and suddenly here, then a cry for help, urged forth by the difficulties that still continually surrounded him, would not be able to follow.

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