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Psalm IV

The title of this and the following two Psalms are strikingly illustrative of their contents. This Psalm describes a state of repentance, in which the necessity of a power beyond our own, to elevate us from our distress, is, happily, both seen and felt. The suggestions, formerly listened to with delight, are now perceived to spring from a state of opposition to the Divine Will, and that they turn the "glory" of the Lord " into shame." As the temptations, to which we are exposed in the course of our repentance, have their seat in the natural mind, therefore it is said, "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still ;" for a bed signifies the natural man or mind. The suggestions to evil, which tend to make us lose our confidence in God, are signified by " the many which say, who will show us any good?" and the reformation of the natural man, by the light of that truth which reveals the love and mercy of the Lord, is signified by " Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us."

This Psalm being, in its spiritual sense, descriptive of man's repentance and the reformation of his life, or of the beginning of that interior change which is called his regeneration, or spiritual birth, therefore it is said in the title to have been played upon "Neginoth," which, from its derivation, appears to have been a stringed instrument, and stringed instruments, when played on, represent the delight which man experiences from repentance and from the reformation of his life.

Verse 2. " O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn My glory into shame ?" "Glory" is here predicated of the spiritual man, and its opposite, "shame," of the natural; and it is said that the glory is turned into shame by " the sons of men," that is, spiritually, by the falsehood of evil, or all those formsnot of words only, which is the literal meaning of falsehood, but also of thoughts and of actionsthat exhibit or bring the lurking evil forth to view. Shame is produced when spiritually the sons of men separate the Divine Truth from the Divine Goodness in themselves, for by so doing they rob the Divine Glory of its life, and turn it into the darkness of spiritual death. There is but one way of effectually guarding against such an assault, and that is to approach the Lord with faith and love, that under His guidance we may search out narrowly, so as to perceive clearly, whatever in ourselves stands in opposition to His Divine Will, and then from our hearts utterly to reject it. When we do this, the Lord is said "to lift up the light of His countenance upon us," and the light of His countenance is the revelation of His Infinite Love and Mercy, which, before our affections and thoughts are raised, signified by the lifting up of the Lord's countenance, could neither be .seen nor acknowledged. This it is which enables us to repel the false suggestions of the natural mind, signified by the " many who say, who will show us any good?" suggestions that incline us first to doubt, and then to deny the Providence and power of the Most High. But when the Lord's countenance is lifted up upon us, we can then interiorly rejoice, and feel a greater delight under the Divine Protection, than we did during the time that "their corn and their wine increased," or when, spiritually speaking, evil affections prevailed, and the thoughts by which they were strengthened and confirmed. When this is perceived and felt, then follows the reformation of the natural man, " I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep : for Thou, O Lord, only makest me dwell in safety;" words that spiritually mark the external tranquillity and security which reign in the natural mind, in consequence of the Divine state of peace within, when lusts and falsities are removed. For when the will assents to the truths which are presented to the intellect, and loves them, which is meant by the conjunction of the will and understanding, or the heavenly marriage, and when both unite in bringing them into practice, the anxiety and uneasiness about worldly concerns, that torment the natural man, and are the fruit as well as proof of his opposition to the order and the life of heaven, subside. He no longer places any reliance upon himself and his own powers, for the Lord's presence is his haven of rest. He looks up to heaven, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches no longer distract or embarrass him. He is besides continually thinking of the Lord, and that not in the ordinary, but in the true, the spiritual sense of the word ; for he is ever intent upon his duty, and delighting to make others happy by the faithful performance of it. It is this, the heavenly thought of him, which spiritually brings down our loving Parent to His children, that He may dwell in the midst of them, the willing recipients of His Divine instruction.

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