Psalms 16:4 MEANING

Psalm 16:4
(4) Their sorrows.--This verse offers also great variation in the ancient versions. The literal text runs Their sorrows [or, idols] (fem.) are multiplied (masc); another they hasten [or, change]. I will not pour out their libations from blood, and will not take their names upon my lips, which, with one or two slight changes in the punctuation, becomes--

"They shall multiply their sorrows

Who change to another god:

I will not pour out their bloody libations,

Nor take their names on my lips."

At the same time, from the evident allusion to the curse on Eve in Genesis 3:16, and the fact that the verb rendered "hasten" (comp. margin) means to buy a wife, it seems that the psalmist had the common prophetical figure for idolatry, viz., adultery, in his mind; but as he is not speaking of the Church as a whole, he does not work it out as the prophets do, by representing the idolaters as adulteresses.

The "libations of blood" seem to refer to the ghastly rites of Moloch and Chemosh. For the last clause comp. Exodus 23:13. To the Hebrews the very name of a god included a predication of his power. Hence the avoidance of even mentioning baal, but substituting bosheth, i.e., shameful thing, for it, even in proper names.

Verse 4. - Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god. This is the only note of sadness in the entire psalm, and it is inserted to add force by contrast to the joyous outburst in ver. 5. If men would not cleave to Jehovah, but would "hasten after" - or perhaps it should be translated "wed themselves to" - another god (see Exodus 2:16, the only other place where the word occurs), then they must not expect "prosperity," or joy of any kind. Their "sorrows will be multiplied;" distress and anguish will come upon them (Proverbs 1:27); they will have to pay dear for their apostasy. Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer. Drink offerings of actual blood are not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, and there is very little evidence of their having been offered by any of the heathen nations, though it is conjectured that they may have been employed in the worship of Moloch. It is therefore best to explain the expression, as here used, metaphorically, as drink offerings as hateful as if they had been of blood (comp. Isaiah 66:3). Nor take up their names into my lips. By "their names" we must understand the names which they used - those by which they called their gods. The Law forbade the mention of these names by Israelites (Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 12:3).

16:1-11 This psalm begins with expressions of devotion, which may be applied to Christ; but ends with such confidence of a resurrection, as must be applied to Christ, and to him only. - David flees to God's protection, with cheerful, believing confidence. Those who have avowed that the Lord is their Lord, should often put themselves in mind of what they have done, take the comfort of it, and live up to it. He devotes himself to the honour of God, in the service of the saints. Saints on earth we must be, or we shall never be saints in heaven. Those renewed by the grace of God, and devoted to the glory of God, are saints on earth. The saints in the earth are excellent ones, yet some of them so poor, that they needed to have David's goodness extended to them. David declares his resolution to have no fellowship with the works of darkness; he repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness, takes to himself the comfort of the choice, and gives God the glory of it. This is the language of a devout and pious soul. Most take the world for their chief good, and place their happiness in the enjoyments of it; but how poor soever my condition is in this world, let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him; let me have a title by promise to life and happiness in the future state; and I have enough. Heaven is an inheritance; we must take that for our home, our rest, our everlasting good, and look upon this world to be no more ours, than the country through which is our road to our Father's house. Those that have God for their portion, have a goodly heritage. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and look no further. Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, never covet more than God; but, being satisfied of his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy not any their carnal mirth and delights. But so ignorant and foolish are we, that if left to ourselves, we shall forsake our own mercies for lying vanities. God having given David counsel by his word and Spirit, his own thoughts taught him in the night season, and engaged him by faith to live to God. Verses 8-11, are quoted by St. Peter in his first sermon, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2:25-31; he declared that David in them speaks concerning Christ, and particularly of his resurrection. And Christ being the Head of the body, the church, these verses may be applied to all Christians, guided and animated by the Spirit of Christ; and we may hence learn, that it is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us. And if our eyes are ever toward God, our hearts and tongues may ever rejoice in him. Death destroys the hope of man, but not the hope of a real Christian. Christ's resurrection is an earnest of the believer's resurrection. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy, a fulness of joy; our pleasures here are for a moment, but those at God's right hand are pleasures for evermore. Through this thy beloved Son, and our dear Saviour, thou wilt show us, O Lord, the path of life; thou wilt justify our souls now, and raise our bodies by thy power at the last day; when earthly sorrow shall end in heavenly joy, pain in everlasting happiness.Their sorrows shall be multiplied,.... Not the sorrows of the saints and excellent ones, by seeing the idolatry of men, as Aben Ezra interprets it; but the sorrows of such

that hasten after another god; a false god, an idol, to serve and worship it; for, generally speaking, idolaters are more forward, eager, and hasty to attend a false worship, than the worshippers of the true God are to attend his service: now their sorrows are many, even in their worship, by cutting their bodies with knives and lancets, as the worshippers of Baal did; and by sacrificing their own children, which, notwithstanding their rash and precipitate zeal, could not fail of giving them pain and uneasiness; and, besides temporal punishments inflicted on them for their idolatry by God, and stings of conscience, which must sometimes attend them, the wrath of God lies upon them, and they will have their portion in the lake of fire, and the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever. Some render the words, "their idols are multiplied"; and so the Chaldee paraphrase,

"they multiply their idols, and after that hasten to offer their sacrifices;''

when men leave the true God, they know not where to stop; the Heathens had not less than thirty thousand gods, and the Jews when they fell into idolatry ran in the same way, Jeremiah 2:28. The word "god" is not in the original text, though the supplement is countenanced by the Jewish writers (p), who interpret it in this way; but I rather think the text is to be understood not of Heathen idolaters, but of unbelieving Jews, who, rejecting the true Messiah, hasten after another Messiah, king, and saviour; when Jesus the true Messiah came they received him not; but when another came in his own name they were eager to embrace him, John 5:43; and to this day they are hastening after another; and in their daily prayers pray that the coming of the Messiah might be "in haste", in their days (q); and the sense of the passage is, that the sorrows of the Jews, rejecting the Messiah and hastening after another, would come thick and fast upon them, until wrath came upon them to the uttermost, Matthew 24:6, 1 Thessalonians 2:16; and it holds good of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, that hasten after another saviour; that say to the works of their hands, that they are their gods, or go about to establish a righteousness of their own, or seek for life and salvation by their own doings; these, sooner or later, will lie down in sorrow, Isaiah 50:11;

their drink offerings of blood will I not offer: meaning not the libations of the Gentiles, which were not wine, according to the law, Numbers 15:10; but blood, even sometimes human blood; but the sacrifices of the Jews, which were either got by blood, murders and robberies, and on that account were hateful to God, Isaiah 61:8; or rather the sacrifices of bloodthirsty persons, whose hands were full of blood, Isaiah 1:11; and such were the offerings of the priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, in Christ's time, who were the children of them that killed the prophets, and sought after the blood of Christ. Or it may be rendered, "I will not offer their drink offerings because of blood" (r); meaning his own blood shed for the remission of sins, which being obtained, there remains no more offering for sin; and so the words may express the abolition of all legal sacrifices, and the causing of them to cease through the blood and sacrifice of Christ. This shows the person speaking to be a priest, and therefore could not be David, but must be the Messiah, who is a priest after the order of Melchizedek; and who had a better sacrifice to other up than any of the offerings of the Jews, even his own self, by which he has put away sin for ever. He adds,

nor take up their names into my lips; not the names of idol deities, nor of their worshippers, but of the Jews that rejected him as the Messiah, for whom he would not pray, John 17:9; and so as he refused to offer their sacrifices, he would not perform the other part of his priestly office for them in intercession; though this may also have respect to the rejection of the Jewish nation as the people of God; writing a "Loammi", Hosea 1:9, upon them, declaring them to be no longer the children of the living God; leaving their names for a curse, a taunt, and a proverb in every place; expressing the utmost abhorrence of them, and showing the utmost indignation at them, as persons whose names were not worthy or fit to be mentioned, Ephesians 5:3.

(p) Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Ben Melech, & Abendana in loc. (q) Seder Tephillot, fol. 128. 2.((r) "propter sanguinem", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Courtesy of Open Bible