And Yet Do Not Sin
The apostle Paul here in verse twenty-six of Ephesians chapter four, partially quotes Psalm 4:4, as it is translated in the Septuagint. The NAS translation of the Hebrew in Psalm 4:4 reads, “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.” Though the Septuagint and Hebrew differ in translation, this does not necessarily mean there is a disparity in conveying the meaning between the two translations. As always, context surrounding a verse helps us to see the intended meaning. Both translations, when viewed in concert with the surrounding context, communicate a consistent message that the Holy Spirit inspired both David and the apostle Paul to record.
· Old Testament principle
Psalm 4 is built upon the circumstances mentioned in the heading and content of Psalm 3, David’s fleeing in the midst of rebellion against his rule led by his son Absalom.
In verse one, David looks to the righteous God with confidence that He will vindicate him because of his righteous cause.
In verse two David asks how long will these “sons of men” assault his honor, as bestowed by the LORD, thinking they can somehow usurp him who the LORD has anointed as King.
In verse three He reminds them “that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself”; David being the one who had been anointed and set apart by the prophet Samuel because he was a man after God’s own heart. David had demonstrated his willingness to submit himself to God’s plan by not doing what Absalom and his conspirators were involved in, the overthrow of the LORD’s anointed. David had several opportunities to take out Saul but waited on the LORD to deal with him and his unrighteousness rather than seek to make that judgment himself. David had considered the gravity of making such a move and its consequences. Consider 1 Sam 26:9-11a:
But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?” David also said, “As the LORD lives, surely the LORD will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed”
It was upon such personal experiences that David through the Spirit could then utter his admonition to the wayward, “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.” David was simply stating the obvious. Think about what you’re doing and considerate it rightly with some honest soul searching in the still time of lying on your bed. Don’t let your anger, whether real or perceived, cause you to sin against the LORD. David then encourages them to trust in the LORD, which means they needed to repent (i. e. change their minds) of their aim at deception, turn back to the will of the Lord and offer the sacrifices of righteousness (Psalm 4:5).
· New Testament application
Now, let’s consider the context that precedes verse 26 in Ephesians four. In verses 17-19 Paul admonishes the Ephesians (and us) how they had once walked. Futility of the mind, a darkened understanding, hardness of the heart, callous, sensual, practicing every kind of impurity with greediness. Sounds like a people who would willingly seek to usurp the authority of the Lord’s anointed, the True King of Kings, to get their own way, doesn’t it?
Paul then exhorts the brethren to lay aside the old self which was corrupted by the lusts of deceit, be renewed in the spirit of the mind, and put on the new self created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:22-24)
Now what are all these there for? Paul said we lay aside falsehood, speak truth to our neighbor, “Be angry, and do not sin” so as not to give the devil an opportunity because, brethren, we are members of one another. Remember, chapter four is about unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13) among the Lord’s anointed, His church. Isn’t the devil’s goal to take us out? Get us biting and devouring one another? (Gal. 5:15) Kind of like Absalom and his lot did to David? If a brother or sister has angered us, imagined or real, what should we do before we give the Devil an opportunity in unleashing our wrath? “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still” Shouldn’t our attitude be, ‘LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand (or tongue, as Eph. 4:31 notes) against the Lord’s anointed!’ ? The Lord’s answer is be kind, tenderhearted and forgive. Just like David, a type of Christ, did for Saul. Amen?