Verse 4. For there are no bands in their death. This is mentioned as the chief wonder, for we usually expect that in the solemn article of death, a difference will appear, and the wicked will become evidently in trouble. The notion is still prevalent that a quiet death means a happy hereafter. The psalmist had observed that the very reverse is true. Careless persons become case hardened, and continue presumptuously secure, even to the last. Some are startled at the approach of judgment, but many more have received a strong delusion to believe a lie. What with the surgeon's drugs and their own infidelity, or false peace, they glide into eternity without a struggle. We have seen godly men bound with doubts, and fettered with anxieties, which have arisen from their holy jealousy; but the godless know nothing of such bands: they care neither for God nor devil.
Their strength is firm. What care they for death? Frequently they are brazen and insolent, and can vent defiant blasphemies even on their last couch. This may occasion sorrow and surprise among saints, but certainly should not suggest envy, for, in this case, the most terrible inward conflict is infinitely to be preferred to the profoundest calm which insolent presumption can create. Let the righteous die as they may, let my last end be like theirs.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. There are no bands in their death, etc. That is, when they die, they die in their strength, they do not pine away with long and tedious sickness; they live in pleasure, and die with ease. They are not bound to their beds, and tied down with the cords of chronical, lingering diseases. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 4. There are no bands in their death, etc. It is not their lot to look upon frequent and bitter deaths, like the righteous, nor is there in their affliction any firmness or permanence. If at any time affliction falls upon them, they are speedily delivered from it. Moreover, whatever calamity happens to them, they have the strength and support of riches; and, elevated by their wealth, they appear to forget their troubles. Cornelius Jansenius. 1510-1576.
Verse 4. There are no bands in their death. The Hebrew word bcrx signifieth a band which is knotted or tied; and then the sense may be, they have not that which might bind them over unto a speedy and troublesome death; hence, Castelio writes, non sunt necessitates quae eos enesent, there are no necessities which threaten their death -- such as variety of distempers, sicknesses and diseases, those messengers of death. Aquila, therefore, renders the word ouk eisi duspaqeiai, there are no pangs or distempers; no sorrows or sicknesses, saith Ainsworth: they are not bound over to death or execution by the variety of diseases, or by the power of injury of others. The prophet, by telling us their strength is firm, expounds this phrase, and lets us know that these wicked men had lives spun of even threads, without danger of ravelling or breaking. They had lusty bodies, strong limbs, sound vitals, without agonies or ruptures; lived as those who had no cause to fear death; and when they expired, it was without much antecedent pain; they fell as ripe apples from the tree. Edward Parry.
Verse 4. By bands we may understand any heavy burdens, which are wont to be bound on them upon whom they are laid; and so, by way of analogy, any grievous pains or torturing diseases. Their strength is firm, continues vigorous till their death. Thomas Fenton.
Verse 4. In their death. It comes upon them in vigorous health, for they are strong and robust, and drag not out a sickly existence through continuous complaints. Some regard the bands of death as hindrances as if it were said -- They suddenly die, in a moment, nor are they racked with pains, as in Job 21:13 . It is considered the highest felicity for the profane, when they have enjoyed the pleasures and the pomp of life, to descend in an instant to the grave. Even Julius Caesar, on the day before he was slain, declared that it seemed to him to be a happy death to die suddenly and unexpectedly. Therefore, according to these interpreters, David complains that the ungodly, without the vexations of disease, pass on to death by a smooth and tranquil course; but there is more truth in the opinion of those who, reading both clauses of the verse together, their strength is firm, and there are no bands to death, think that they are not dragged to death like captives; for since diseases overcome our strength, they are so many messengers of death to admonish us of our frailty. They are not, therefore, in vain compared to chains with which God binds us to his yoke lest vigour and strength should incite us to be froward. But their strength is firm. Franciscus Vatablus.
Verse 4. Men may die like lambs and yet have their place for ever with the goats. Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. Quiet death; the cases of the godly and ungodly distinguished by the causes of the quiet, and the unreliability of mere feelings shown.