The various versions split the translation with “be angry” (NKJV,
“Tremble then, and sin not:”
¨ Tremble: For fear of God’s judgment. 1599 GB
¨ Tremble therefore and be afraid, if not of me, yet at least of God, who hath engaged Himself in my cause or quarrel, and will be an adversary to my adversaries. MP
¨ […] repent ye, that is, be ye angry with yourselves for your past sins, and henceforth cease to sin. Augustine
¨ The address is continued: they are to repent and cleave to Jehovah instead of allowing themselves to be carried away by arrogance and discontent. The LXX. Rendered it correctly: if ye will be angry beware of sinning, viz. backbiting and rebellion. In connection with the rendering [“stand in awe”] we feel to miss any expression of that before which they are to tremble (viz. the sure punishment which God decrees). K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ That is, stand in awe of God, and His righteous, judgments; be afraid of Him, and tremble before Him; make Him your fear and your dread, and go on no longer and proceed no further in sinning against Him. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, render it, "be ye angry, and sin not": which are the words of the apostle, (Eph. ); referring to this place; and which doubtless is the reason of these versions. JG
¨ How many reverse this counsel and sin but tremble not.
It seems obvious, and quite unanimous, that rather than being a justification for anger, even righteous anger, the verse is really speaking about the enemies of God letting go of their blind rage and instructing them to stand before the Lord in awe, trembling, in order to motivate their wicked hearts to turn from the path they are on. This is designed to drive the lost to God, not a justification for the saints to be angry. Let us now take a quick look at Eph. 4:26.
¨ In my opinion, Paul merely alludes to the passage [Ps. 4:4] with the following view. There are three faults by which we offend God in being angry. The first is, when our anger arises from slight causes, and often from no cause whatsoever, or at least from private injuries or offenses. The second is, when we go beyond the proper bounds, and are hurried into intemperate excesses. The third is, when our anger, which ought to have been directed against ourselves or against sins, is turned against our brethren. Most appropriately, therefore, did Paul, when he wished to describe the proper limitation of anger, employ the well known passage, [Ps. 4:4]. We comply with this injunction, if the objects of our anger are sought, not in others, but in ourselves, - if we pour out our indignation against our own faults. With respect to others we ought to be angry, not at their persons, but at their faults; nor ought we to be excited to anger by private offenses, but by zeal for the glory of the Lord. Lastly, our anger, after a reasonable time, ought to be allowed to subside, without mixing itself with the violence of carnal passions. JC
¨ These words recall Ps. 4:4, which the apostle is here applying for his own use. The words should not be interpreted separately, as if the sense were, a. “Be sure to be angry once in a while”; and b. “do not sin.” Much less is it true that all anger is here forbidden. The sense is simply, “Let not your anger be mixed with sin.” Anger as such need not be sinful. It is even ascribed to God (1 Kgs 11:9; 2 Kgs. ; Ps. ; 79:5; 80:4, 5; Heb. ), and to Christ (Ps. ; Mark 3:5; Jn. -17). In fact, the age in which we are living could use a little more “righteous indignation” against sin of every type. Also, the more angry every believer is with his own sins, the better it will be. William Hendriksen
¨ There is such a thing as righteous anger, although the term is much abused. The apostle is saying that if you are angry, be sure it is the kind of anger that is not sinful… even a righteous wrath by overindulgence may pass too easily into sin. Wycliffe NT Bible Commentary
So we see in contrast where the verse Ps. 4:4 doesn’t mean what the verse in Ephesians does; but, that Ephesians does mean what Ps. 4:4 is often misinterpreted to mean. I suppose the link to the two would be more a result of our translation then that they are contextually linked or even referenced. They may be; or, it may be as Hendriksen says, “the apostle is here applying [this] for his own use.” That would seem to be the only logical conclusion to arrive at after studying the two passages.
“commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
¨ He afterwards admonishes them… to take account of themselves at leisure, and as it were, in some place of deep retirement; an exercise which is opposed to their indulgence of their unruly passions. In the end of the verse he enjoins them to be still. Now, it is to be observed, that the cause of this stillness is the agitation and the trembling, of which he before made mention. For if any have been hurried into sin by their infatuated recklessness, the first step of their return to a sound mind is to awaken themselves from their deep sleep to fearfulness and trembling. After this follows calm and deliberate reflection; then they consider and reconsider to what dangers they have been exposing themselves; and thus at length they, whose audacious spirits shrink at nothing, learn to be orderly and peaceable, or, at least, they restrain their frantic violence. JC
¨ He warns his adversaries against blind passion, and counsels them to quiet converse with their own hearts, and solitary meditation, in order that they may not imperil their own salvation. To commune with one’s own heart, without the addition of the object, is equivalent to… think alone by one’s self, and the bed or resting place, without requiring to be understood literally, points to a condition of mind that is favorable to quiet contemplation. […] come to your right mind by self-examination, cease your tumult – a warning coming with the semblance of command by reason of the consciousness of innocence on his part. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ When retired from men and business, and you are at leisure to think and meditate then reflect upon your actions, seriously consider them; ask your heart some proper and close questions; examine narrowly and thoroughly the principles on which, and the views with which, you act; cease from all your rage and fury against me, against the Lord, and against his people. JG
¨ O that men would take the advice of this verse and commune with their own hearts. Surely a want of thought must be one reason why men are so mad as to despite Christ and hate their own mercies. O that for once their passions would be quiet and let them be still, that so in solemn silence they might review the past, and meditate upon their inevitable doom. Surely a thinking man might have enough sense to discover the vanity of sin and the worthlessness of the world.
I write this study for me and my family and for Christians that will hopefully be blessed by my efforts here and, ultimately, all of that is worth nothing if my driving focus of God being glorified is not accomplished. As a result of that audience being in mind, I really don’t step outside of the norm to address the lost specifically. Perhaps when I am speaking to my children I will invoke such imagery as the chaff being burned as refuse when discussing Ps. 1 and how that correlates to the wicked burning in hell. But, in general, I do not address the lost. Here, I do not have a choice; the lost are being addressed and thus I must too.
Man of the world, you have pitted yourself against God and His children, you have focused your anger specifically at God and here, as in other places, He exhorts you to stop, to consider the holy God you have pitted yourself against and refrain from your wicked ways. Go back and re-read Charles Spurgeon’s words. They give you the heart of the Gospel in what is being pleaded for here. Within the depths of your soul you must know, you must see at least a small crack of light shining through in your blindness, that the path you are pursuing is in vain and will end in ruin. To paraphrase the great pastor Jonathan Edwards, you are dangling above the pit of hell suspended only by a string. The hand of God holds the string for in His longsuffering He does not desire that men should perish but that they should turn to Him and thus His mercies are plentiful. He keeps you from dropping into the lake of fire while the devils grasp for your ankles and the flames are licking at your feet, only for the time He will not let your soul be abandoned to hell. The foolish reality of the wicked isn’t that you don’t have a concept of your impending doom; the foolishness of the wicked is that you see your state and blissfully dangle where you are confident in the thread while missing the hand of God that holds it. Please! Repent of your sins, place your faith in Christ, pray to God to save your soul, doggedly pursue this salvation that is offered in the word of God until you are satisfied the Lord has numbered you with the elect and brought you into the mix. I have family members that are not saved and I write this to them as well as any, it grieves my heart that you are not saved. It grieves me that the world pits itself against God. And I would happily change the hearts of every man if I could that they may be spared and God would be glorified. But the reality is, that God is longsuffering, and He is merciful; but before you depend on those two attributes alone please don’t forget that He is also holy and just and that a God that is holy and just cannot ignore your sin against Him and your contempt for Him and His people forever. At some point the mercy will stop and the longsuffering will be replaced with immediate wrath and you will have to give an account. Stand and tremble oh man! Stand in awe! Contemplate what you are hearing and turn from your wicked ways! One day all of mankind will bow their knee and with their mouth confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Rom. , Php. ); oh the horror it will be if immediately thereafter you will be whisked away to hell! Do you not know that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved? (
People of God, may we never forget the terrible price Christ has paid for our sins, may we never forget the sad state of our souls before we were brought into the fold, may we never be ashamed or afraid to share the Gospel in a biblical manner to the world. We may not always do it well; in fact we may do it very poorly, but do it we must! For the Lord has blessed us with the opportunity to be used by Him to bring our future family into the home with those that are already here. We walk around justifiably angry at the sin we see around us in this world. But the greater exhortation we have seen today is to be angry with the sin we see in our own lives and because we have been saved by God, to exhort others to the same path, with the same anger of self, to the same blessed end of salvation.