Verse 4. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. Men to be good at all must be good at heart. Those who trust in the Lord are good; for faith is the root of righteousness, and the evidence of uprightness. Faith in God is a good and upright thing, and its influence makes the rest of the man good and upright. To such God will do good: the prayer of the text is but another form of promise, for that which the Lord prompts us to ask he virtually promises to give. Jehovah will take off evil from his people, and in the place thereof will enrich them with all manner of good. When the rod of the wicked is gone his own rod and staff shall comfort us. Meanwhile it is for us to pray that it may be well with all the upright who are now among men. God bless them, and do them good in every possible form. We wish well to those who do well. We are so plagued by the crooked that we would pour benedictions upon the upright.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good. The Midrash here calls to mind a Talmudic riddle: -- There came a good one (Moses Exodus 2:2 ) and received a good thing (the Thra, or Law, Proverbs 4:2 ) from the good One (God, Psalms 145:9 ) for the good ones (Israel, Ps 125:4). --Franz Delitzsch, 1871.
Verse 4. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good. A favourite thought with Nehemiah. See Nehemiah 2:8 Nehemiah 2:18 5:19 13:14,31: "Remember me, O my God, for good", the concluding words of his book. --Christopher Wordsworth, 1872.
Verse 4. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good. They consult their own good best, who do most good. I may say these three things of those who do good (and what is serving God but doing of good? or what is doing good but serving God?). First, they shall receive true good. Secondly, they shall for ever hold the best good, the chief good; they shall not only spend their days and years in good; but when their days and years are spent, they shall have good, and a greater good than any they had, in spending the days and years of this life. They shall have good in death, they shall come to a fuller enjoyment of God, the chief good, when they have left and let fall the possession of all earthly goods. Thirdly, they that do good shall find all things working together for their good; if they have a loss they shall receive good by it; if they bear a cross, that cross shall bear good to them. --Joseph Caryl, 1602-1673.
Verse 4. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, etc. Perhaps it may not prove unprofitable to enquire, with some minuteness, who are the persons for whom prayer is presented, and who have an interest in the Divine promises. They are brought before us under different denominations. In Psalms 125:1 , they are described as trusting in the Lord: in Psalms 125:2 , they are described as the Lord's people: in Psalms 125:3 , they are called the righteous: in Psalms 125:4 , they are called good and upright in heart: and in Psalms 125:5 , they are called Israel. Let us collect these terms together, and endeavour to ascertain from them, what is their true condition and character, for whose security the Divine perfections are pledged. And while a rapid sketch is thus drawn, let each breathe the silent prayer, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked Way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." --N. M'Michael, in "The Pilgrim Psalms", 1860.
Verse 4. Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good. Believers are described as "good". The name is explained by the Spirit as implying the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and of faith. It is proof that no guile is harboured in their hearts. Prayer is made that God would visit them with goodness. This prayer incited by the Spirit amounts to a heavenly promise that they shall receive such honour. --Henry Law, in "Family Devotion", 1878.
Verse 4. Them that be good. Oh, brethren, the good in us is God in us. The inwardness makes the outwardness, the godliness the beauty. It is indisputable that it is Christ in us that makes all our Christianity. Oh, Christians who have no Christ in them -- such Christians are poor, cheap imitations, and hollow shams -- and Christ will, with infinite impatience, even infinite love, fling them away. --Charles Stanord, in a Sermon preached before the Baptist Union, 1876.
Verse 4. Upright in their hearts. All true excellence has its seat here. It is not the good action which makes the good man: it is the good man who does the good action. The merit of an action depends entirely upon the motives which have prompted its performance; and, tried by this simple test, how many deeds, which have wrung from the world its admiration and its glory, might well be described in old words, as nothing better than splendid sins. When the heart is wrong, all is wrong. When the heart is right, all is right. -- N. M'Michael.
Verse 4. Upright. Literally, straight, straightforward, as opposed to all moral obliquity whatever. --Joseph Addison Alexander (1809- 1860), in "The Psalms Translated and Explained."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- What it is to be good.
- What it is for God to do us good.