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Psalm 4:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 You sons of men how long shall my honor be turned into humiliation?
How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is false? Selah
You sons of men. Turning from God to men, from Him in whom he hoped for protection to those who were engaged in persecuting him. We are not, of course, to suppose that they were present with him, but this is an earnest, poetic remonstrance as if they were with him. The reference is doubtless to Absalom and his followers, and he calls them “sons of men,” as having human feelings, passions, and purposes, in strong distinction from that righteous God to whom he had just made his solemn appeal. God was holy, true, and just, and he might appeal to Him; they were ambitious and wicked, and from them, he had nothing to hope. He looked upon God as righteous altogether; he looked upon them as altogether depraved and wicked. God, he regarded as his just Protector; them he regarded as seeking only to wrong and crush him.
How long. The phrase here used might refer either to time or to extent. How long in regard to time,—or to what degree or extent will you thus persecute me? The former, however, seems to be the true signification.
Shall my honor be turned into humiliation. My honor, or what becomes my rank and station. If this refers to the rebellion in the time of Absalom, the allusion is to the fact that his enemies were endeavoring to rob him of his scepter and his crown, and to reduce him to the lowest condition of beggary and want; and he asks with earnestness how long they intended to do him so great injustice and wrong.
How long will you love what is worthless. Comp. Notes on Ps. 2:1. That is, how long will you act as if you were in love with a vain and impracticable thing, a thing which must be hopeless in the end. The idea is that God had chosen him, and anointed him, and had determined that he should be king (Psalm 4:3), and therefore that their efforts must be ultimately unsuccessful. The object at which they were aiming could not be accomplished, and he asks how long they would thus engage in what must, from the nature of the case, be fruitless.
And search for what is false. The idea here is that they were pursuing a course that would yet prove to be a delusion—the hope of overturning his throne. The same question, in other respects, may be asked now. Men are seeking that which cannot be accomplished and are acting under the influence of a lie. What else are the promises of permanent happiness in the pursuits of pleasure and ambition? What else are their attempts to overthrow religion and virtue in the world?
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews