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Psalms 4:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Hear me when I call - No man has a right to expect God to hear him if he do not call. Indeed, how shall he be heard if he speak not? There are multitudes who expect the blessings of God as confidently as if they had prayed for them most fervently; and yet such people pray not at all!

God of my righteousness - Whatever pardon, peace, holiness, or truth I possess, has come entirely from thyself. Thou art the God of my salvation, as thou art the God of my life.

Thou hast enlarged me - I was in prison; and thou hast brought me forth abroad. Have mercy on me - continue to act in the same way. I shall always need thy help; I shall never deserve to have it; let me have it in the way of mere mercy, as thou hast hitherto done.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Hear 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 Psalm 2:6, “hill of my holiness,” meaning “my holy hill;” Psalm 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 mind of the psalmist 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 of appeal 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; and 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.

Thou hast enlarged me 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.

Have mercy upon me - 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?

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
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