Verse 4. David here declares the great source of his unflinching courage. He borrows his light from heaven -- from the great central orb of deity. The God of the believer is never far from him; he is not merely the God of the mountain fastnesses, but of the dangerous valleys and battle plains.
Jehovah is in his holy temple. The heavens are above our heads in all regions of the earth, and so is the Lord ever near to us in every state and condition. This is a very strong reason why we should not adopt the vile suggestions of distrust. There is one who pleads his precious blood in our behalf in the temple above, and there is one upon the throne who is never deaf to the intercession of his Son. Why, then, should we fear? What plots can men devise which Jesus will not discover? Satan has doubtless desired to have us, that he may sift us as wheat, but Jesus is in the temple praying for us, and how can our faith fail? What attempts can the wicked make which Jehovah shall not behold? And since he is in his holy temple, delighting in the sacrifice of his Son, will he not defeat every device, and send us a sure deliverance?
Jehovah's throne is in the heavens; he reigns supreme. Nothing can be done in heaven, or earth, or hell, which he doth not ordain and overrule. He is the world's great Emperor. Wherefore, then, should we flee? If we trust this King of kings, is not this enough? Cannot he deliver us without our cowardly retreat? Yes, blessed be the Lord our God, we can salute him as Jehovahnissi; in his name we set up our banners, and instead of flight, we once more raise the shout of war.
His eyes behold. The eternal Watcher never slumbers; his eyes never know a sleep.
His eyelids try the children of men: he narrowly inspects their actions, words, and thoughts. As men, when intently and narrowly inspecting some very minute object, almost close their eyelids to exclude every other object, so will the Lord look all men through and through. God sees each man as much and as perfectly as if there were no other creature in the universe. He sees us always; he never removes his eye from us; he sees us entirely, reading the recesses of the soul as readily as the glancings of the eye. Is not this a sufficient ground of confidence, and an abundant answer to the solicitations of despondency? My danger is not hid from him; he knows my extremity, and I may rest assured that he will not suffer me to perish while I rely alone on him. Wherefore, then, should I take wings of a timid bird, and flee from the dangers which beset me?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. The infinite understanding of God doth exactly know the sins of men; he knows so as to consider. He doth not only know them, but intently behold them: His eyelids try the children of men, a metaphor taken from men, that contract the eyelids when they would wistly and accurately behold a thing: it is not a transient and careless look. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 4. His eyes behold, etc. God searcheth not as man searcheth, by enquiring into that which before was hid from him; his searching is no more but his beholding; he seeth the heart, he beholdeth the reins; God's very sight is searching. Hebrews 4:13 . "All things are naked, and opened unto his eyes," tetrachlidmena, dissected or anatomised. He hath at once as exact a view of the most hidden things, the very entrails of the soul, as if they had been with never so great curiosity anatomised before him. Richard Alleine, 1611-1681.
Verse 4. His eyes behold, etc. Consider that God not only sees into all you do, but he sees it to that very end that he may examine and search into it. He doth not only behold you with a common and indifferent look, but with a searching, watchful, and inquisitive eye: he pries into the reasons, the motives, the ends of all your actions. The Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. Revelation 1:14 , where Christ is described, it is said, his eyes are as a flame of fire: you know the property of fire is to search and make trial of those things which are exposed unto it, and to separate the dross from the pure metal: so, God's eye is like fire, to try and examine the actions of men: he knows and discerns how much your very purest duties have in them of mixture, and base ends of formality, hypocrisy, distractedness, and deadness: he sees through all your specious pretences, that which you cast as a mist before the eyes of men when yet thou art but a juggler in religion: all your tricks and sleights of outward profession, all those things that you use to cozen and delude men withal, cannot possibly impose upon him: he is a God that can look through all those fig leaves of outward profession, and discern the nakedness of your duties through them. Ezekiel Hopkins, D.D.
Verse 4. His eyes behold, etc. Take God into thy counsel. Heaven overlooks hell. God at any time can tell thee what plots are hatching there against thee. William Gurnall.
Verse 4. His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. When an offender, or one accused for any offence, is brought before a judge, and stands at the bar to be arraigned, the judge looks upon him, eyes him, sets his eye upon him, and he bids the offender look up in his face: "Look upon me," saith the judge, "and speak up:" guiltiness usually clouds the forehead and clothes the brow; the weight of guilt holds down the head! the evil doer hath an ill look, or dares not look up; how glad is he if the judge looks off him. We have such an expression here, speaking of the Lord, the great Judge of heaven and earth: "His eyelids try the children of men," as a judge tries a guilty person with his eye, and reads the characters of his wickedness printed in his face. Hence we have a common speech in our language, such a one looks suspiciously, or, he hath a guilty look. At that great gaol delivery described in Revelation 6:16 , All the prisoners cry out to be hid from the face of him that sat upon the throne. They could not look upon Christ, and they could not endure Christ should look upon them; the eyelids of Christ try the children of men... Wickedness cannot endure to be under the observation of any eye much less of the eye of justice. Hence the actors of it say, "Who seeth us?" It is very hard not to show the guilt of the heart in the face, and it is as hard to have it seen there. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. The elevation, mystery, supremacy, purity, everlastingness, invisibility, etc., of the throne of God.
Verse 4-5. In these verses mark the fact that the children of men, as well as the righteous, are tried; work out the contrast between the two trials in their designs and results, etc.