Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 4

A VESPERS PSALM

The Psalmist who according to the title of the poem, is David, begs the Lord the continuance of His favors and mercies (Vs 2). He is of troubled mind because there are some who turn aside from God, and speak falsely . These he addresses as “the children of men” (Vs 3). He reminds them of the striking favors which he has received from God, and urges them to abandon the schemes they are plotting against him. He advises them to turn to God with a perfect sacrifice- the token of a perfect heart. Men complain of the failure and sadness of all things. “And yet, says the psalmist, “the blessed light of God’s face is on us who trust in Him, and fills us with a joy more deep than the gladness of a rich harvest or vintage.”

He that lives in the light of God’s face has no fear; and with perfect trust in the Lord’s protecting care, the psalmist lays him down to rest. The sleep that comes at once betokens the peace of his heart, and the fulness of his trust. The concluding prayer shows the psalm to be a vesper prayer.

Tradition assigns the psalm to David, and it also assigns the composition of the poem to the period after the defeat of Absalom. It is clear from the text itself that the poet is a person of importance. His enemies are of high rank (“the children of men”). The designation of the psalmist as sanctus (Hebrew Hasid) is regarded by any modern critics as an indication of a late (probably Maccabean) origin of the psalm. The contention, however, that hasid/sanctus is a sort of technical term confined to the Greek period, is, to say the least, not proven. (Taken from THE PSALMS: A STUDY OF THE VULGATE PSALTER IN THE LIGHT OF THE HEBREW TEXT by Father Patrick Boylan. The work is in the public domain)

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One Response to Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 4

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B | stjoeofoblog

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