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Psalm 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 Be angry and do not sin;
commune in your own hearts upon your bed and keep silent. Selah
 That is, share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings
Be angry and do not sin [Stand in awe]. Still addressed to those who in ver. 2 are called “sons of men;” that is, to his enemies. This is rendered by Prof. Alexander, “Rage and sin not.” The Chaldee Paraphrase renders it, “Tremble before him, and sin not.” The Latin Vulgate, Irascimini—“be angry.” The LXX. ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε, “Be ye angry, and sin not”—a rendering which Paul seems to have had in his eye in Eph. 4:26, where the same language is found. It is not necessary, however, to suppose that, in this case, or by so quoting this language, Paul meant to give his sanction to the Septuagint translation of the passage. The truth doubtless is, that he found this language in that version, and that he quoted it, not as a correct translation, but as exactly expressing an idea which he wished to convey,—in the same way as he would have quoted an expression from a Greek classic. It was made to convey an inspired sentiment by his use of it; whether it was a fair translation of the original Hebrew was another question. For the meaning of the sentiment, see Notes on Eph. 4:26. The original word here—רָגַז, ragaz,—means to be moved, disturbed, disquieted, thrown into commotion; and as this may be by anger, fear, or grief, so the word comes to be used with reference to any one of these things.—Gesenius, Lex. The connection here would seem to require that it should be understood with reference to fear—since we cannot suppose that the writer would counsel them to be moved or agitated by wrath or anger, and since there was no ground for exhorting them to be moved by grief. The true idea is, doubtless, that which is conveyed in our translation—that they were to fear; to stand in awe; to reflect on the course which they were pursuing, and on the consequences of that course, and by so doing to cease from their plans, and to sin no further. God had determined to protect him whom they were engaged in persecuting, and, in prosecuting their plans, they must come into conflict with His power and be overcome. The counsel, therefore, is just such as may properly be given to all men who are engaged in executing plans of evil.
And do not sin. That is, by continuing to prosecute these plans. Your course is one of rebellion against Jehovah since he has determined to protect him whom you are endeavoring to drive from his throne. Any further prosecution of your schemes must be regarded as additional guilt. They had indeed sinned by what they had already done; they would only sin the more unless they abandoned their undertaking.
Commune in your own hearts. Heb., “Speak with your own heart;” that is, consult your own heart on the subject and be guided by the result of such a deliberation. The language is similar to what we often use when we say, “Consult your better judgment,” or “Consult your feelings,” or “Take counsel of your own good sense,” as if a man were divided against himself and his passions, his ambition, or his avarice, were contrary to his own better judgment. The word heart here is used in the sense in which we now use it as denoting the seat of the affections, and especially of right affections, and the meaning is, “Do not take counsel of, or be influenced by, your head, your will, your passions, your evil advisers and counselors; but consult your own better feelings, your generous emotions, your sense of right, and act accordingly.” Men would frequently be much more likely to do right if they would consult their hearts as to what should be done than they are in following the counsels which actually influence them. The secret, silent teachings of the heart—the heart when unbiased and uninfluenced by bad counselors—is often our best and safest guide.
Upon your bed. Admirable advice to those who are engaged in plans of wickedness. In the silence of night; in solitary musings on our bed; when withdrawn from the world, and from all the promptings of passion and ambition, and when, if at any time, we cannot but feel that the eye of God is upon us, the mind is most likely to be in a proper state to review its plans, and to inquire whether those plans can be expected to meet the Divine approbation.
And keep silent. When you are thus quiet, reflect on your doings. For a most beautiful description of the effect of night and silence in recalling wicked men from their schemes, see Job 33:14–17. Comp. Notes on that passage.
Selah. This, as explained in the Notes on Ps. 3:2, marks a musical pause. The pause here would well accord with the sense and would most happily occur after the allusion to the quiet communion on the bed and the exhortation to be still.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews
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