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Psalm 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
Answer me when I call. When I pray. The word hear in such cases is always used in the sense of “listen to,” “hear favorably,” or “attend to;” hence in the literal sense, it is always true that God hears all that is said. The meaning is, “hear and answer me,” or grant me what I ask.
O God of my righteousness. That is, O my righteous God. This is a common mode of expression in Hebrew. Thus, in Ps. 2:6, “hill of my holiness,” meaning “my holy hill;” Ps. 3:4, “his hill of holiness,” meaning “his holy hill.” The psalmist here appeals to God as his God—the God in whom he trusted; and as a righteous God—a God who would do that which was right, and on whom, therefore, he might rely as one who would protect his own people. The appeal to God as a righteous God implies a conviction in the psalmist’s mind of the justice of his cause, and he asks God merely to do right in the case. It is not on the ground of his own claim as a righteous man, but it is that, in this particular case, he was wrongfully persecuted; and he asks God to interpose and to cause justice to be done. This is always a proper ground for appealing to God. A man may be sensible that in a particular case he has justice on his side, though he has a general conviction that he himself is a sinner. He may pray to God to cause his enemies to do right, or to lead those whose office it is to decide the case, to do what ought to be done to vindicate his name, or to save him from wrong.
You have given me relief when I was in distress. That is, on some former occasion. When he was pressed or confined and knew not how to escape, God had interposed and had given him room so that he felt free. He now implores the same mercy again. He feels that the God who had done it in former troubles could do it again, and he asks him to repeat his mercy. The prayer indicates confidence in the power and the unchangeableness of God and proves that it is right in our prayers to recall the former instances of the Divine interposition as an argument or as a ground of hope that God would again interpose.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. In my present troubles. That is, Pity me, and have compassion on me, as thou hast done in former times. Who that has felt the assurance that God has heard his prayer in former times, and has delivered him from trouble, will not go to him with the more confident assurance that he will hear him again?
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews
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