Verse 4. We have now come to the second head of the Psalm. In this verse the contrast of the ill estate of the wicked is employed to heighten the colouring of that fair and pleasant picture which precedes it. The more forcible translation of the Vulgate and of the Septuagint version is --
Not so the ungodly, not so. And we are hereby to understand that whatever good thing is said of the righteous is not true in the case of the ungodly. Oh! how terrible is it to have a double negative put upon the promises! and yet this is just the condition of the ungodly. Mark the use of the term ungodly, for, as we have seen in the opening of the Psalm, these are the beginners in evil, and are the least offensive of sinners. Oh! if such is the sad state of those who quietly continue in their morality, and neglect their God, what must be the condition of open sinners and shameless infidels? The first sentence is a negative description of the ungodly, and the second is the positive picture. Here is their character
--they are like chaff, intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away. Here, also, mark their doom,
-- the wind driveth away; death shall hurry them with its terrible blast into the fire in which they shall be utterly consumed.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Chaff. Here, by the way, we may let the wicked know they have a thanks to give they little think of; that they may thank the godly for all the good days they live upon the earth, seeing it is for their sakes and not for their own that they enjoy them. For as the chaff while it is united and keeps close to the wheat, enjoys some privileges for the wheat's sake, and is laid up carefully in the barn; but as soon as it is divided, and parted from the wheat, it is cast out and scattered by the wind; so the wicked, whilst the godly are in company and live amongst them, partake for their sake of some blessedness promised to the godly; but if the godly forsake them or be taken from them, then either a deluge of water comes suddenly upon them, as it did upon the old world when Noah left it; or a deluge of fire, as it did upon Sodom, when Lot left it, and went out of the city. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 4. Driveth away, or tosses away; the Chaldee translates for "wind," "whirlwind." Henry Ainsworth, 1639.
This shows the vehement tempest of death, which sweeps away the soul of the ungodly.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3-4. See No. 280 of "Spurgeon's Sermons." "The Chaff Driven Away."
Sin puts a negative on every blessing.