Commentary on Psalm 4:2

2. O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?

The natural man “call[s] evil good and good evil,”1 exchanges the glory of the immortal God for shameful idols,2 and refuses to honor God as God.3 Consequently, what is truly honorable, primarily our Lord God and His Perfect Word, is counted as shameful by the lost, while what is vile is exalted by them. David’s cry is not to be taken literalistically, as if he were waiting for the wicked to specify how long they intended to go on in their rebellion against the Lord. Instead, David’s words emphasize how depraved man is in himself. Whereas David cries out to God on the basis of God’s grace alone, these men are bent on treating what alone is honorable as something that is intrinsically shameful. The wicked cannot stop treating what is honorable as if it is something shameful, for this is what the wicked do, as God’s own rhetorical question in Jeremiah 13:23 teaches us:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin

or the leopard his spots?

Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

2a. How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah

David specifies the precise manner in which the wicked turn his honor into shame: They love vain words and seek after lies. Their manner of rebellion only heightens the force of David’s first rhetorical question, as the sin that is mentioned is not external but of the mind, the heart, the spirit – i.e. It is the very being of the man who does not know God. Even as the blindness of the men of Sodom is shown to us in their continued pursuit of their lusts, in spite of having been stricken with physical blindness, the men David is addressing love vain words and seek after lies. They are not victims of vain words and lies; rather, they are actively given over to standing in opposition to the Word of God.

The word translated as love here is אָהַב(‘ahab), which according to Genesius’ lexicon means “to desire,” “to breathe after,” to greatly long after some object.4 The wicked are identified by Holy Spirit as those who long after, or breathe after, i.e. love, vanity/vain words with the same intensity of longing/love that Abraham had for Isaac,5 Isaac had for Rebekah,6 or Jacob had for Rachel.7 Likewise, regarding their seeking after we have the word בָּקַשׁ(baqash), which indicates that the wicked “strive after,” “try to get,” “require,” or “demand” that which is false.8 God is here indicting men on the basis of their hearts’ desire, their intellectual activities.

The depth of man’s sin is not first exhibited in his outward acts of rebellion, but in the very disposition of his soul, “for from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…” and “…deceit.”9 And it is not only the brazen atheist who exhibits this lust for falsity, but also the cultist, the moralistic pagan, and the heretic. For David does not differentiate here between those who consciously seek after lies for the sake of justifying their profligate lifestyles and those who do so unconsciously and are otherwise superficially righteous. Instead, he tells us plainly: The wicked have hearts that not only love and long for falsity, deception, and are seeking to do away with God’s Word, but they also actively give themselves over to seeking after the same. Their external deeds are not specified, but only the sins of their hearts, for “…man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”10

1Isa 5:20a

2cf. Rom 1:22-23

3cf. Rom 1:21

4 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for ‘ahab (Strong’s 157)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 17 Jul 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? strongs=H157&t=KJV&page=1 >

5cf. Gen 22:2

6cf. Gen 24:67

7cf. Gen 29:18

8 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for baqash (Strong’s 1245)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 17 Jul 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? Strongs=H1245&t=KJV >

9Mark 7:21-22

101 Sam 16:7b

 

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