Psalm 123:4

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 4. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease. Knowing no troubles of their own, the easy ones grow cruel and deride the people of the Lord. Having the godly already in secret contempt, they show it by openly scorning them. Note those who do this: they are not the poor, the humble, the troubled, but those who have a merry life of it, and are self content. They are in easy circumstances; they are easy in heart through a deadened conscience, and so they easily come to mock at holiness; they are easy from needing nothing, and from having no severe toil exacted from them; they are easy as to any anxiety to improve, for their conceit of themselves is boundless. Such men take things easily, and therefore they scorn the holy carefulness of those who watch the hand of the Lord. They say, Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice? and then they turn round with a contemptuous look and sneer at those who fear the Lord. Woe unto them that are at case in Zion; their contempt of the godly shall hasten and increase their misery. The injurious effect of freedom from affliction is singularly evident here. Place a man perfectly at case and he derides the suffering godly, and becomes himself proud in heart and conduct. "And with the contempt of the proud". The proud think so much of themselves that they must needs think all the less of those who are better than themselves. Pride is both contemptible and contemptuous. The contempt of the great ones of the earth is often peculiarly acrid: some of them, like a well known statesman, are "masters of gibes and flouts and sneers", and never do they seem so much at home in their acrimony as when a servant of the Lord is the victim of their venom. It is easy enough to write upon this subject, but to be selected as the target of contempt is quite another matter. Great hearts have been broken and brave spirits have been withered beneath the accursed power of falsehood, and the horrible blight of contempt. For our comfort we may remember that our divine Lord was despised and rejected of men, yet he ceased not from his perfect service till he was exalted to dwell in the heavens. Let us bear our share of this evil which still rages under the sun, and let us firmly believe that the contempt of the ungodly shall turn to our honour in the world to come: even now it serves as a certificate that we are not of the world, for if we were of the world the world would love us as its own.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 4. -- Exceedingly filled, or perhaps, "has long been filled." (Comp. Psalms 120:6 ). This expression, together with the earnestness of the repeated prayer, "Be gracious unto us", shows that the "scorn" and "contempt" have long pressed upon the people, and their faith has accordingly been exposed to a severe trial. The more remarkable is the entire absence of anything like impatience in the language of the psalm. --J.J. Stewart Perowne.

Verse 4. -- The scorning of those that are at ease. When men go on prosperously, they are apt wrongfully to trouble others, and then to shout at them in their misery, and to despise the person and cause of God's people. This is the sure effect of great arrogancy and pride. They think they may do what they please; they have no changes, therefore they fear not God, but put forth their hands against such as be at peace with them ( Psalms 4:19 Psalms 4:20 ); whilst they go on prosperously and undisturbed, they cannot abstain from violence and oppression. This is certainly pride, for it is a lifting up of the heart above God and against God and without God. And they do not consider his providence, which alternately lifts up and eases down, that adversity may not be without a cordial, nor prosperity without a curb and bridle. When men sit fast, and are well at ease, they are apt to be insolent and scornful. Riches and worldly greatness make men insolent and despisers of others, and not to care what burdens they impose upon them; they are entrenched within a mass of wealth and power and greatness, and so think none can call them to an account. -- Thomas Manton.

Verse 4. -- Those that are at ease. The word always means such as are recklessly at their ease, the careless ones, such as those whom Isaiah bids, "rise up, tremble, be troubled;" for "many days and years shall ye be troubled" ( Psalms 32:9-11 ). It is that luxury and ease which sensualise the soul, and make it dull, stupid, hard hearted. --Edward Bonyerie Pusey (1800--), in "The Minor Prophets".

Verse 4. -- Those that are at ease, who are regardless of the troubles of others. and expect none of their own. --James G. Murphy.

Verse 4. -- Those that are at ease, who are regardless of the troubles of others, and expect none of their own. --James G. Murphy.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 4. -- Those that are at ease.

  1. Explain their state: "at ease."
  2. Show their ordinary state of mind: "proud."
  3. Denounce their frequent sin: scorn of the godly.
  4. Exhibit their terrible danger.